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"Express degree" could see students' summers scrapped

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10:17 CET+01:00
The IT University at Kista. Photo: www.imagebank.sweden.se

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Term times at university could be extended and students may be given a chance to study over the summer period in order to complete their degree sooner.

A report from Sweden's National Agency for Higher Education will be reviewed by parliament this week, but both the National Union of Teachers and the National Students Union are against the proposals.

Currently each academic year is made up of 40 weeks, but under the new proposal each student would be able to decide whether he or she would like to study for 45 to 50 weeks per "year" instead, finishing a three year degree in two and a half years.

"There are no practical obstacles to an extended study year," said Per Gunnar Rosengren, the author of the report.

He told Dagens Nyheter that it would also be economically beneficial for society.

"Today higher education institutions are lacking a financial incentive to invest in such a change," he said.

Svenska Dagbladet pointed out that students would be able to "get out on the job market" sooner and said that facilities and equipment would be used more efficiently under such a scheme.

A survey indicates that up to 40% of students are willing to study during their "summer break". The advantage with this is that it gives them a chance to go job hunting and it would also entitle them to a student loan all year round.

However, the vice-chairman of the National Student's Union, Kristoffer Burstedt, said he believes the longer option could be "too stressful" for students.

"Students, just like everyone else, need holidays, but at the moment nobody is paid for them," he said.

"If the financial support were increased to the whole year, so that students could, for example, study for five weeks of the summer and get five weeks paid holiday, then the proposal would be good," he said.

University lecturers declared themselves opposed to the scheme - and not just because of the threat to their holiday period.

"In August there are many international scientific conferences and seminars," said Ann Fritzell of the Swedish Association of University Teachers.

"To schedule teaching in the summer disturbs the ingrained rhythm of the university world," she said.

Sources: Dagens Nyheter, Svenska Dagbladet, Högskoleverket

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