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Government to boost foreign student scholarship funding

Government to boost foreign student scholarship funding

Published: 22 Sep 2011 09:28 GMT+02:00
Updated: 22 Sep 2011 09:28 GMT+02:00

"The quality of our university programmes increase when successful international students participate," education minister Jan Björklund said in a statement.

"Scholarships is a way to attract talented students."

Starting with the 2011-2012 academic year, students from outside of the European Union can no longer study for free at Swedish universities.

To help offset the costs for talented students as well as those from developing countries, the government also created scholarships totaling 90 million kronor.

Currently, two thirds of the funds originally set aside for scholarships are disbursed through individual universities.

The remaining 30 million kronor are managed by the Swedish Institute as part of a general scholarship fund for students from countries listed by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development as countries in need of foreign aid.

But according to the government's new spending proposal, the general scholarship fund for students from developing countries would rise to 50 million kronor starting autumn 2012, a funding increase of 60 percent.

This year, 697 applications reached the Swedish Institute, with Bangladesh, Ethiopia and Uganda representing 465 of them. Of the 105 granted applications, only 33 were from women, according to statistics from SI.

“Through more scholarships we contribute to the increase of the capacity to face economical, political and social challenges in these countries,” Minister for International Development Cooperation, Gunilla Carlsson said in a statement.

Joel Linde (news@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

10:12 September 22, 2011 by krow
"The quality of our university programmes increase when successful international students participate," education minister Jan Björklund said in a statement. So they know before bringing the idea of school fees to a place where it is difficult to get job. More mess is coming when people choose to go to India, China and Norway to study.
10:25 September 22, 2011 by sjuttiosjusköterskorpåsjukhuset
I don't recommend non-white students to travel to Sweden and study there, under any circumstances. Choose other truly multicultural nations like the UK, France, Canada, the USA, Brasil, etc. Even the regions of Germany that were formerly West Germany are far better places to study than Sweden.
10:49 September 22, 2011 by fedotovskiy
sjuttiosjusköterskorpåsjukhuset:

Yes, great suggestion! :)
11:41 September 22, 2011 by Abe L
Is it just me or is there a big lack of information explaining how more international students increases the quality of university programmes?

It also comes without explanation of how talented international students are meant to be kept in Sweden and work for Swedish companies rather then taking their degree home and apply their skills for foreign competition? I sincerely hope that these scholarships come with a certain obligation to work in Sweden and contribute to the Swedish economy for at least 5-10 years.
11:51 September 22, 2011 by Nilspet
@ Abe L

Universities will be just like Komvux without international students. I do not mean students from Nordic countries or EU but from other continents. Universities will get points for graduating non-national students as well because it shows how influential they are to the world. Imagine Harvard University with only American-born students...would you consider it a world-class university? That Harvard is highly ranked is largely due to the fact that it is a very desirable place to get educated. When talented students attend such the university its quality gets automatically improved. So it is a good idea that SE govt wants to attract talented students through scholarships but I have a feeling that really talented ones will not want to come here because they cannot build their future here. The Swedish immigration law discriminates international students to a great extent.
12:09 September 22, 2011 by Kemi
I hope they have good measures on selecting the truly "talented international students". I don't deny there are some really good international students, but I am tired of teaching master students who don't have sufficient knowledge, don't understand English well enough, or have never used a computer before.

And please, go to other countries, Sweden can surely survive without having to teach these students and pay for them.
17:03 September 22, 2011 by Nilspet
@Kemi

Sorry to hear that you have been experiencing non-talented students. In fact I doubt you really are a talented university lecturer because it does not sound professional the way you express yourself in the second paragraph. Your world view is unfortunately very limited despite your profession. Sweden "can" can a lot back from those students had we been smarter on how to exploit them after they complete their studies here.

Let's get to the real issue: the problem is that out of, say, a dozen Swedish universities only a few are truly desirable for talented international students. Let us be a bit more clear and honest: major universities like Uppsala, Lund, Stockholm, Chalmers, Linköping are definitely more desirable than Malmö, Mälardalen and Halmstad universities. I am not saying that those big universities are better in every category, but you can look up the rankings just to have a big picture.

You will have to admit that there is NO way truly talented international students will prefer Linköping University to Harvard University if they had enough money and grades to enter Harvard. Now the dilemma is Sweden wants to internationalize its higher education, the truth is that majority of its universties are not in Top 200 but the fees are higher than some of those in Top 100 universities in English-speaking/major countries. You can ask yourself which place would truly talented young minds prefer? We have to admit that we cannot attract them unless we offer better conditions, i.e. free or highly affordable tuition fees and better job opportunities after graduation.

Last but not least, majority of us Swedes are not that good in English as we often portray ourselves to be. We speak English as a lingua franca like many others. To be honest I have met many South Asian students in Sweden that are far better in English than their professors. You cannot judge English proficiency purely based on accents/dialects. I do not believe that there is any master student here who never used a computer in his/her life. Are you really talking about master students or you meant asylum seekers in your class? Again, let me point out that IT proficiency of many South Asian students are far higher than their European counterparts.
17:36 September 22, 2011 by proteasome
Great to have a small amount of money for scholarships. It probably would be a good idea to have an entrance exam in the subject area? Sweden has been against standardized tests. However, the excellent foreign students that are really out there have been defamed by students whose grades do not properly reflect their abilities or experiences. Hopefully the money goes to the talented. I promise everyone who gets into Harvard had to take a standardized test before hand.
22:54 September 22, 2011 by fikatid
I totally agree with @Nilspet. I don't think that there's hardly any job opportunity in Sweden for foreign students, no matter how good they are. Unlike NYC, Silicon Valley, London and cities like that where talents are highly regarded, Sweden is actually quite a racist country.
23:35 September 22, 2011 by esvahnt
the foreing non white students should be informed before coming to sweden about the racism in here

so they better stay in a more friendly place like their own country

and they dont have to worry they can be flooded by swedish students in there
07:58 September 23, 2011 by The_Truthisbitter
Another "penny wise pound foolish decision". Why did the Government not experiment in pumping all that money into the universities according to their students quota? Instead they charge dubious fees, and when they wake up to discover the folly of their actions, they suddenly want to give scholarships to " very talented Students" . My wonder is : how are they gonna decide who is talented and who isnt?
10:23 September 23, 2011 by Nilspet
@The_Truthisbitter

You made a good point indeed. Since I was in the higher education business before so I can tell you that it is indeed difficult to judge students merely on their grades upon admission. There are many students with top grades who fade away after a while and those with poor grades at the beginning that get better and better with time and end up getting even a PhD.

All in all, I am not against charging non-EU students but the fees the concerned authorities set up are just too high. Simply put, too expensive for the product! Our products (i.e. Swedish university degrees) are not bad but when compared against those competitive countries we are still behind. My experience told me that many things in our higher education system are not internationalized yet we have the tuition fees so high as if we were better in offering international education. (English-speaking professors are not adequate. To provide international education many other things will have to be internationalized).

And I do not even want to mention how our immigration law discriminates non-EU students. To cut short, it is better to come to Sweden as an asylum seeker than to come here as a university student because you are not going to be treated as assets. I have seen enough missed opportunities for Sweden due to the weird immigration law.
12:58 September 23, 2011 by BBKING
The comments are much more readable material than the news piece. As a Master's student from Ethiopia, I have seen what the Swedish education lacks during the past one year. Although I find it interesting to study along side Swedish citizens, I believe that they lack a sense of inquisitiveness regarding other people's cultures and beliefs and they feel a sense of arrogance in being an elite society which I believe is a reflection the ideals held by the larger society itself.
19:57 September 23, 2011 by Descartes
"Talented students" can be judged by means of standardized test (like Gmat, GRE, SAT etc) scores, along with average GPA. I agree with the Swedish lecturer who underlined the international students' poor analytical abilities (I have met a lot), though I have to add one important issue> I was surprised (When I was an international student myself) to discover the utmost ignorance of Swedish teachers.

International talented students don't make the University prestigious, (they just choose already prestigious universities) but the universities make it prestigious for the talented students to graduate from them.

…. and what racism has to do with all this stuff????
23:45 September 23, 2011 by Nilspet
GMAT, GRE, SAT and GPA do tell about students's ability but not necessarily their true talents. I have myself worked with N. American and Chinese students who have got high scores from these tests but some of them are not truly talented. They just worked hard to pass these tests. On contrary Swedish, German and some other European students that have never done these test perform better in the course, projects and PhD programs.

I am not saying that these tests are bad but as you well know if you work hard enough you will pass the exam but it does not guarantee your talent. Einstein was pretty bad at schools but he excelled as a research student and hence became one of the world intelligent icons.

It is important to standardize and internationalize our education system before we charge international students high tuition fees. In my opinion the fee should not be more than 30 000 SEK per year for any master program. After all government subsidizes for EU and EEA students a great deal already. Why would e.g. a rich Indian student pay 400 000 SEK in tuition fee to get a master degree in architecture from e.g. KTH whereas it is cheaper (with more job opportunities and better immigration rules) in other places where master programs in architecture is perhaps better and more acceptable.
07:11 September 24, 2011 by Descartes
"Talented" doesn't necessarily mean "talented like Einstein" but rather"well suited for the program". On the other hand "well suited" or not can be defined by means of standardized tests like Gmat GRE SAT etc. E.g. correlation between GMAT scores and performance is up to 65%, which is considered high in our imperfect world.

When finance students can't tell the difference between standard deviation and cheeseburger that's bad. When finance teacher doesn't know the meaning of the term "selling short" or looks in the book to write "Gordon growth model formula" on the board, that's even worth.
10:29 September 24, 2011 by Nilspet
@Descartes

I agree with you of course that it is necessary to admit the right students to the program (especially master programs). But we should apply these to all students not only the non-EU students. I have a feeling, though, that this would be a disadvantage for local students because many non-EU students have very good analytical skills and many of them are better at English, too.
10:39 September 24, 2011 by Descartes
Sorry for spelling mistake, I meant worse not worth
14:05 September 24, 2011 by pacianphoto
I'm glad to see the Swedish Government increasing its funding for International students. It would appear the Swedish Government can act quickly when they recognize a mistake has been made. Charging non-EU students an application fee and charging tuition is a huge mistake.

My suggestion, even with the scholarships, I'm still recommend to non-EU students, save your money, invest in the UK, USA, Australia or Canada. You simply will not get your money's worth here in Sweden. Not to mention, you MUST know the language to get a decent job, you can't stay to much longer after your students visa runs out.

Currently I am enrolled at one of Sweden's finest University ( I say this jokingly), Malmö University College. I'd have to say, the standards for the International Program is rather weak and pathetic. I have personally communicated to my friends NOT to enrolled in any University in Sweden unless you know Swedish.

I think the curriculum is much better on the "Swedish only spoken here" side of the house than the "English only spoken here."

I'm an African-American professional male living in Sweden. Since November 2006, I have called Sweden my home. I can tell you stories that would shock the hell out of you. At times, I feel as though I live in a third world country with robots who are unable to think for themselves.
15:32 September 24, 2011 by Descartes
I wouldn't call the education level in Sweden-pathetic, though as I noted earlier, one can be surprised by teachers' ignorance and students' poor skills.

The major problem in education system is rather deep. I don't see a problem in charging the fees but I do see the problems in charging "international students outside EU", impossibility of securing the funding from the banks, student selection criteria and level of education.

US top universities charge ALL STUDENTS outside, inside, nearby or neighboring - they charge all of them. All of the candidates have to pass the tests and the funds are secured by the banks. Education quality in US top 50 universities is superb due to the competition.

Competition should be fair, not like in Sweden "inside, outside EU", funding should be offered by the banks and education quality will be brought up automatically due to the competition.
14:28 September 25, 2011 by ccb
I agree with a lot that has been said and would add that I have had friends and colleagues who have been to Harvard, Oxford and the likes of such universities and I don't find them any more brilliant or talented than many people whom I have encountered in various courses or in the working environment. However, their university experiences seem to be quite similar in terms of having excellent professors and excellent support during their studies which ensured that if they worked well they were at the top of their game. The quality of the students does have an influence on the quality of the university but so does the quality of the professors. Sadly that is an issue that the Swedish officials would need to tackle also, if they want to pull their universities up in the ranks. Sadly, I have to say, that despite all the technology, available teaching tools and excellent infrastructure I was less than impressed by the overall quality of the education in my Master's programme at KTH. Many professors were less than competent, less than helpful, spoke and wrote English rather poorly or in a rather Swedish way ("How does it look like?" and "I am not here tomorrow." are not standard English, contrary to popular belief). As a native English speaker I can agree that though Swedes tend to have very good pronunciation in English, grammatically they are not superior to many others who may speak with more of an accent. Nonetheless, these are small things that may be overlooked if there wasn't such an air of superiority when addressing students. Many students, especially the American, Australian, Indian, Turkish and French expressed dismay at the quality level of the courses, with many remarking as to how it felt as if they were still at the undergraduate level of study. In spite of the this, many were placated by the fact that the studies were free and sought to get the most of (in most cases) their first real time away from their homelands. These things won't be so easy to 'let slide' if students are to pay the exorbitant fees.

@Kemi

Of course Sweden can survive without paying for such students. I am sure that Harvard, Cambridge & others are shelling out top dollars for the best international professors & students, which will continue to give them the advantage, cultural perspective and connections. Look at the names of their top professors and students & the names attached to the new patents & spin off companies in the technology field in the USA, the UK & even here in Sweden & you will see what I am talking about. Sweden doesn't live in a shell & doesn't produce everything on its shores & is actually quite reliant on international business & trade. Doing business & exchanging knowledge is in many cases a very cultural activity especially in countries like China, India, South Korea & Japan so if you believe having persons with first-hand knowledge and connections to these cultures is not a distinct advantage you should rethink your statement.
05:15 October 11, 2011 by Bolante007
why so much hate towards international students coming to Sweden? i am actually going to sweden to study next year for my masters! you know why? its $20,000 less than NY state university, $15,000 less than Boston College, sure top international students might, just might get a full ride to Harvard but what are the odds of that? and lets be realistic here, sure you have a degree from NYU, sure you have a degree from Cornell, but you can get the same education in the UK cheaper, in Japan, in South Korea the US is only because its universities has the names.. also you go to a country to study not to worry about racism..
04:27 October 14, 2011 by ccb
@Bolante007

Well even though Sweden is cheaper in terms of tuition fees I think you should also look at living expenses (which can rapidly more than make up for the difference) and overall quality of education. My main advice would be to try to connect with US students who have studied here over the years and see what they have to say about the quality.

I can only vouch for my experiences in my programme and related ones, to say the experience was underwhelming and not worth the tuition fees that are currently being requested. If I had to pay the fees they are seeking I would be even more pissed off than I am after spending $30 000+ in living expenses. I think you should try to find someone that is currently or has pursued the course of study which you hope to carry out and see what they think.
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