Booze and drugs await foreign students in Sweden

The Volvo is unpacked and it's time for Mamma and Pappa to leave their Student, all grown up but unmistakably nervous, in the bosom of university for the first time. Fighting back the tears, Pappa presses a crisp 500 crown note into Student's hand, encouraging lavish spending on books and ink.

Suddenly, after twenty years, Student is alone and – if research at four of the country’s universities is anything to go by – eagerly joining the queue at the nearest Systembolaget.

Wednesday’s papers seemed shocked to discover the extent of consumption of intoxicating substances revealed by a study carried out by Action Against Drugs.

“Every third student drunk every other week,” announced Svenska Dagbladet. (The Local scoured the headline for the word ‘only’ but can assure readers it was nowhere to be found.)

Apparently “96 per cent of students have drunk alcohol in the last year” and a third of those have the equivalent of a bottle of wine or more in one sitting, at least twice a month. “The more intensive the student life, the more drinking goes on,” said the paper, and explained that consequently it’s the law, technology and economics students who are boozing the most.

More than a quarter of the 4,575 students questioned said that the demon drink had had a negative effect on their health in the last twelve months and alcohol came top of a list of university problems.

But Stockholm’s Metro picked up on another aspect of the story: “One in ten students uses drugs and one in four has tried them,” reported the paper, noting that cannabis is the most common substance, followed by amphetamines and ecstasy.

“This is an unbelievably worrying picture of the underside of university life,” said Maria Renström of Action Against Drugs. “In many ways, student life is a risky environment, just like the big city’s bar areas.”

Still, it doesn’t seem to be putting off foreign students, who are flocking to Sweden in greater numbers than ever before.

According to Tuesday’s Dagens Nyheter 4,700 students have been given residence permits for studying in Sweden this autumn, and the number of applications from non-EU countries has risen by 16%.

“We expected a reduction in the numbers of applications following the expansion of the EU,” said Marie Andersson at the migration board, Migrationsverket. “But precisely the opposite has happened.”

In fact, students from more than 100 countries applied to study in Sweden, with the most coming from China and India.

DN explained that in order to study in Sweden, students from outside the EU must have been offered a place on a full-time course and must show that they have financial support for the whole period. They must also convince the authorities that they plan to leave the country once their studies finish.

3,400 people have met the criteria so far this year and Marie Andersson told DN that the main reason for the increased numbers is the greater efforts being made by Swedish education institutions to attract students from abroad.

So nothing to do with the booze, then.

Sources: Dagens Nyheter, Svenska Dagbladet, Metro