Visa surge for foreign students

Sweden is becoming an increasingly popular place for foreigners to study. With more universities offering classes in English, students from around the world have been knocking on the door of the Swedish Migration Board asking for temporary visas.

Since January this year, the number of non-European Union students has shot up, increasing by 32 percent compared to the same period last year.

The Board saw a spike in applications during the summer months with 5,253 requests coming in. Some 4,149 applications from students outside the EU were considered last year.

Elisabet Swartz, head of visa applications at the Migration Board told The Local that the surge of foreign applications is due in large part to more institutions of higher education offering more classes in English.

“We have had so many calls from students worried about getting their visas on time,” she said. “We had to call in extra staff just to be able to handle all of the extra applications that came in during the summer months.”

Swartz said she expects to see a similar rise next year.

She said most student applications arrive from Pakistan, China and Nigeria, adding that if a student has been accepted to a university and can prove he is able to support himself financially then he is likely to get approved.

“We give student visas to 70-80 percent of those who apply.”

Foreign students receive free schooling once in the country, but the idea of charging these students for the classes taken has recently surfaced.

The government investigator Erland Ringborg proposed a fee of about 80,000 per year on students coming from outside the EU.

David Samuelsson, head of planning at the education department said the idea is not new.

“We have not taken a position on the investigator’s suggestion,” Samuelsson said, according to Svenska Dagbladet.

“But we Social Democrats have already said we want to introduce such a fee. If we are going to increase the total number of foreign students, they should finance their own education; otherwise we risk them forcing away Swedish students.”