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Sharp decline in university entrance test participants

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18:21 CEST+02:00
The Swedish Scholastic Aptitude Test (SweSAT, or högskoleprovet in Swedish) turns 30 this year. But those who sat the test on Saturday all around the country, in Swedish UN military bases and in Swedish schools abroad, represent a diminishing band.

Over a million people have sat the test, which was intended to be a gateway into higher education for those over the age of 25 when it was introduced in 1977. Indeed, many have taken it several times and since 1991 anybody has been able to use the results to help them get into college or university.

In its heyday in the 1990s around 100,000 people would sit each of the two annual tests, one held in the spring and one in the autumn.

But the hope of being selected for higher education on the basis of the SweSAT results only attracted 43,354 people this time around.

"But we know from experience that five to six percent won't turn up," said Margaretha Hallgren, coordinator at the Swedish National Agency for Higher Education , who invigilated a test at Östra Real in Stockholm.

The capital was one of 130 towns where participants spent four hours and ten minutes of their Saturday. Swedish barracks abroad in Afghanistan, Kosovo, Bosnia and Cyprus, as well as Swedish schools in many European cities, also held the test.

The number of people sitting the spring test was around 5.5 percent lower than last year. That is the fourth drop in a row.

"The test's significance is not going to lessen. But there are more education places now which means that many people can get in with their grades instead," said Hallgren.

"The interest could also have been influenced by all the talk about graduates finding it harder to get jobs," she added.

SweSAT tests the knowledge and abilities that are considered necessary skills for further studies. At least a third of applicants to college and university are assessed on the basis of their SweSAT results.

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