The new money, which will create 3,500 new places on university and college courses, was announced by education minister Leif Pagrotsky following a deal between the government and its allies in the Green and Left parties.
The money will be distributed directly to universities, but Pagrotsky said that he expected it to be spent on courses to which many students have applied.
“This decision will lie with the individual colleges,” Pagrotsky told Swedish Radio, adding that “there will be more places on medicine courses, for example.”
The new money comes at a time when graduate unemployment is a recognised problem in Sweden. Some of the courses with the highest number of unemployed graduates, such as media studies, are also among the most popular courses in terms of applications.
This has caused some to question the government’s strategy.
“It’s stupid to spend more government money on areas in which unemployment is already high,” Anna Ekström, chairwoman of the Swedish Confederation of Professional Organisations (Saco), told The Local.
According to Saco, graduate unemployment in Sweden is at its highest level in modern times, yet courses with high unemployment rates among graduates are also among the most well provided for:
“There are media courses at practically every college in Sweden,” said Ekström.
She argues that the money should instead go towards research.
“If universities and colleges could spend more on research, it would increase the quality of the education they provide,” she said.
But Pagrotsky insists that putting more people through higher education helps to reduce unemployment.
“It’s still the case that the higher the level of education, the lower the unemployment figures,” he said.
Front Page Photo: The IT University in Kista. Source: imagebank.sweden.se