Migration Board could demand deposit from foreign students

Foreign students in Sweden will be seeing red while their overdrafts go into overtime if a new proposal from the Swedish Migration Board gets the nod.

According to the board, 27% of those who obtain a residence permit to study here don’t bother to register with a Swedish university or college. Last year, Migrationsverket checked up on 6,000 people who had been granted residency on studying grounds.

Migrationverket’s Kjell Ekfelt, who headed the investigation, says some of those who failed to register had legitimately taken up offers to study elsewhere. However, others had applied under false pretences to find their way into a Schengen country.

“There is a risk that they avoid immigration regulations and do something else in Sweden or in another EU country,” Ekfelt told Swedish Radio.

“They either work or find reasons to take up permanent residency.”

The findings have now been handed over to the government along with a pricey set of proposals to control student runaways.

Granting shorter-stay permits for would-be students until they are registered is one of the more common sense approaches on offer. But the proposal to slap a 63,000 kronor a year fee – to be deposited in a Swedish bank account – has sparked the most controversy.

The somewhat random figure would be applied to those coming from non-EU countries to prove they don’t need to lean on the Swedish state for financial support.

But far from preventing the exploitation of the Swedish education system, the proposal has angered both the Swedish National Union of Students and the National Agency of Higher Education

“It’s counter productive if we want to raise the number of foreign students in Sweden,” says Lennart Ståhle from the National Agency for Higher Education.

Today there are 20,000 foreign students in Sweden and non-EU citizens must already prove they have enough cash to live on.

However, Kjell Ekfelt at the Migration Board says there has been numerous instances of counterfeit statements and an obligation to deposit the money in a Swedish bank account would put paid to swindling students.