• Sweden edition
 
Opinion
'Sweden needs more international students'
Swedish students attend a lecture. File photo: Axbom/Flickr

'Sweden needs more international students'

Published: 15 Jan 2014 13:04 GMT+01:00

Higher education is becoming all the more important as a competitive factor in today's globalized society. Many countries are investing in and expanding their education systems and there is a clear increase in the number of students getting ther education abroad. The total number of students studying abroad worldwide  is around three million. These people are an important part of resource for competency in the future.
 
An increase in internationalization demands understanding and respect for different cultures, and international students contribute to domestic students' knowledge. Swedish students gain cultural influences while at the same time international students are introduced to Swedish culture. This is significant for those who end up working in Swedish companies abroad.
 
These international students are important for Sweden. Swedish companies are largely international and need to attract new talent. International students who return home or move to another country are important ambassadors for Sweden and for Swedish companies operating in these countries. They are important for trade contacts in general, but even for Sweden's possibility of contributing to sustainable development in emerging regions.
 
Sweden has lost 80 percent of students from outside of the EU since the government introduced tuition fees, down from over 8,000 to 1,600. The proportion of students in Sweden from outside of Europe is less than two percent, far lower than the EU average of five percent. At the same time, the number of foreign students getting work permits in Sweden is decreasing. When asked, 85 percent of students said they would choose to stay in Sweden. In reality, 17 percent stay, and that number is dropping. 
 
A new report from Boston Consulting Group shows that students decide which country to study in based on rankings, access to exclusive programmes, and the cost of education. It also shows that, of the students who are offered a place in Sweden, only 20 percent accept if there is no scholarship. If there is a scholarship, 70 percent accept.
 
Meanwhile, students from outside of the EU choose to head to other countries where the costs are equally high or even higher than in Sweden. This is despite the fact that Sweden, according to an survey among alumni, can compete with high quality education, unique education, and high quality of life.
 
There are two reasons for this: These countries have well-formed tuition fee grants for paying students, an area in which Sweden's efforts are very modest. In many other countries, students are offered good possibilities of a job after graduation. In Germany and the Netherlands, for example, students are allowed residency for six to 12 months after they complete their degree. To be able to stay in Sweden, students must find a job before they graduate.
 
As representatives for trade and higher education, we believe that the decreasing number of non-European students gives the wrong picture of Sweden as an international player. We have to do something, now. The fact that the government has promised a further 100 million kronor ($15.5 million) for scholarships aimed at aid-recipient countries is of course positive. But Sweden also needs to be able to compete for students from other countries. For more of them to come, more scholarships are needed. To attract them and to keep them here, there needs to be reformed visa laws and a clear objective from both a university and industry level.
 
We're proposing a new scholarship model that is both socio-economically justified and cost-neutral for the state. The model is to be founded on three principles:
 
- The scholarships should be funded by income tax revenue from non-EU students who stay on in Sweden to work after graduation. To achieve cost neutrality, Sweden needs to offer 1,500 students scholarship, of whom 20 percent must stay on for at least five years. 
 
- The distribution of the scholarship funds needs to be decentralized. The state should allocate a certain scholarship sum to universities and university colleges, which then in turn allocate it to the prospective students.
 
- The funds should be allocated to universities based on an incentive model that is partly based on attractiveness (the number of students that pay the fees) and partly on the ability to foster the study-work transition (the number of students who get specialized work permits after their exams).
 
With an increase in scholarship funding and better opportunities for students to stay after their exams - but with revised rules for residency after the exams which gives the possibility of staying and seeking a job - Sweden's chances of being a competitive player in the global arena will increase too, both in education and industry. But to attract students from around the world it must be clear that Sweden is an attractive country in which to be educated.  That requires industry, academia, and the government to take a joint responsibility.
 
We are ready. Is the government?
 
Carl Bennet, CEO of Carl Bennet AB Börje Ekholm, CEO of Investor
Leif Johansson, board member at Astra Zeneca and Ericsson
Martin Lundstedt, CEO of Scania Olof Persson, CEO of AB Volvo
Pam Fredman, chairwoman of Sveriges universitets- och högskoleförbund and head of Gothenburg University
Peter Gudmundson, head of Kungliga tekniska högskolan (KTH)
 
Originally published in Swedish in the Dagens Nyheter newspaper. Translation by The Local

The Local (news@thelocal.se)

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Cash for Swedes who saw dying Dad on TV
Svea Court of Appeal in Stockholm. Photo: Leif R Jansson/TT

Cash for Swedes who saw dying Dad on TV

Relatives of a man whose final moments appeared in a television programme about a hospital in Sweden have each been awarded 20,000 kronor ($2,700) in compensation, after a court ruled that his privacy had been breached. READ  

Sweden rallies behind women in Ukraine
Sweden's foreign minister Margot Wallström in Kiev. Photo: Gustav Sjöholm/TT

Sweden rallies behind women in Ukraine

Sweden's Foreign Minister Margot Wallström is making her first visit to Ukraine, where she has urged leaders to press on with efforts to support women and cut corruption as tensions continue in the east of the country. READ  

The Local's Countdown to Christmas
Five magical Swedish winter markets
Kalmar Castle, Småland is hosting a Christmas market. Photo: Flickr/Simon Green

Five magical Swedish winter markets

Stockholm and Gothenburg may be the main tourist draws when it comes to winter markets in Sweden, but away from the big cities, Swedes do their Christmas shopping in barns, castles and farm shops. Here are The Local's top tips for 2014. READ  

Immigrant graduate jobs on the rise in Sweden
More foreign-born graduates are finding work in Sweden. Photo: Shutterstock

Immigrant graduate jobs on the rise in Sweden

It is getting easier for foreign-born graduates to find a job in Sweden, according to the country's Employment Service, which says it has seen a jump in the percentage of immigrants scoring roles that require a university degree or college education. READ  

Hospital in 'fairyland' tax haven claims
A model of the new Karolinska hospital being constructed in Stockholm. Photo: Bertil Enevåg Ericson/TT

Hospital in 'fairyland' tax haven claims

An estimated 1.3 billion kronor of taxpayers money set aside to build Sweden's most advanced hospital is alleged to have been channelled to a tax haven in Luxembourg by the companies behind the project. READ  

Sweden's Spotify turns up volume as losses fall
Spotify was created in 2008 in Sweden. Photo: Erik Mårtensson/TT

Sweden's Spotify turns up volume as losses fall

The world's biggest music streaming service, Spotify, has announced that its revenue grew by 74 percent in 2013 while net losses shrank by one third, in a year of spectacular expansion. READ  

The Local's Countdown to Christmas
Top ten Swedish Christmas presents
Presents photo: Shutterstock

Top ten Swedish Christmas presents

Christmas shopping is a challenge every year. If you're looking for something particularly Swedish with a special touch, it can be even harder. Here is The Local's own guide to top Christmas gifts of the year. READ  

Video: Fashion versus Weather
How to stay stylish in Sweden in November
Student Antonia Erlandsson laughs off the wet weather under a wide-brimmed hat. Photo: The Local

How to stay stylish in Sweden in November

It's hard to flaunt your favourite fashions when the November skies are unrelentingly bleak even by Swedish standards. But fashion doesn't have to be a victim of Scandinavia's chilly weather, as The Local discovers on the streets of Stockholm. READ  

Christmas sun sought by record numbers
Many Swedes are opting for warmer climes during Christmas. File photo: puroticorico/Flickr

Christmas sun sought by record numbers

A record number of Swedes are leaving the country to go away on holiday for Christmas, with sunny destinations like the Canary Islands and old favourite Thailand proving most popular. READ  

Man shot dead in Stockholm 'execution'
Police examine the shattered window of the Audi car after a man was shot dead in Sollentuna on November 25th 2014. Photo: Jonas Ekströmer /TT

Man shot dead in Stockholm 'execution'

A 32-year-old man has been shot dead in his car in Stockholm, with witnesses describing the attack as a brutal killing. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Sponsored Article
How to get your own office anywhere in the world
National
'I'm a Swedish 'expat' in my home country'
Imagebank Sweden
Society
Decorating your home for Swedish Christmas
Gallery
IN PICTURES: Sweden's 2015 Eurovision hopefuls
Gallery
Property of the week: Rosengården
Blog updates

26 November

Is Putin trying to buy up Europe’s nationalists? (Globally Local) »

" Photo: Alexey Druzhinin/AFP Political funding is a murky business at the best of times. If a party..." READ »

 

26 November

Not Pants (Blogweiser) »

" The woman who took the picture above was on her first visit to IKEA. She had just..." READ »

 
 
 
National
'Racist' Black Pete party scrapped in Sweden
Gallery
IN PICTURES: Sweden's Christmas gifts through the years
Sponsored Article
Introducing... Family life in Stockholm
Lifestyle
'I'm spreading Japan's 'cute' culture in Sweden'
National
Ebola: Sweden's leading expert speaks
National
Why this Swedish rabbi is facing death threats
National
Fears up to 300 Swedes fighting with Isis
Lifestyle
How to make Swedish mulled wine
Gallery
People-watching: November 22nd - 23rd
Society
What's on in Sweden: November 20th to 27th
National
How to boost your career in Skåne, Sweden's south
Lifestyle
How an Umeå museum is rewriting Swedish history
National
Timeline: Julian Assange sex allegations
Lifestyle
Five unique backpacker hostels in Stockholm
National
Bones show off Sweden's history
National
What new word are Swedes voting on?
National
Why African Swedes are angry about Santa's helper
National
Pine, tar, and tinder: flavours from the north
Gallery
Selfies, solidarity and Hillary Clinton: Stefan Löfven on tour
Gallery
People-watching: November 19th
Society
Why are international professionals leaving Sweden?
Business & Money
Meet the Swedes who made suits for The Hunger Games
Technology
'I'm among the first Swedes with a microchip'
National
What is Sweden doing about bird flu?
Gallery
Property of the week: Eriksberg
National
Vecka45: Sweden's most innovative week
Gallery
In Pictures: The clubs and loves of Sweden's Sven-Göran Eriksson
Society
What's On in Sweden: November 13th to 20th
Gallery
People-watching: November 16th
National
Driving (expats) home for Christmas?
Lifestyle
Make your own Swedish pea soup
Politics
"Totally unacceptable": Defence Minister on Stockholm submarine
Society
The A-Ö guide to making life in Sweden easier
National
How a Swedish party inspired a masterpiece
National
Seen the new Ace of Base yet?
National
Meet the Irish woman thundering into Swedish rock
Gallery
In Pictures: Ace of Base through the years
Society
Ten things you should never say to a Swede
Gallery
People-watching: November 12th
Business & Money
Get your own office in Gothenburg or Stockholm - free for a day
Sponsored Article
The best options for oversea transfers
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Germany

More news from Germany at thelocal.de

Latest news from The Local in Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in France

More news from France at thelocal.fr

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

784
jobs available
Swedish Down Town
Consulting & Productions

We are an innovative business company which provides valuable assistance with the Swedish authorities, Swedish language practice, and general communications.
Call 0731 004 781 or visit:
swedishdowntown.com
PSD Media
PSD Media is marketing company that offers innovative solutions for online retailers. We provide modern solutions that help increase traffic and raise conversion. Visit our site at:
psdmedia.se
If you want to drink, that’s your business. If you want to stop, we can help.
Learn more about English-language Alcoholics Anonymous in Sweden. No dues. No fees. Confidentiality assured.
aa-europe.org/sweden
The Local Spain is hiring!
The Local is seeking a new editor for our site in Spain to join our growing team of internationally-minded, driven, ambitious and clued-up journalists.
Details and how to apply