Swedish for Immigrants enrollment hits all time high

65,222 students attended Swedish for Immigrants (SFI) courses in 2007. The highest number ever and 24 percent up on 2006.

The number of beginners starting SFI courses in the 2006/07 academic year was the highest since 1993/94 when 35,500 signed up.

Over 130 language groups were represented in the 2006/07 academic year. Arabic was the most common mother tongue, with over 20 percent of students speaking Arabic as a first language. Many of the languages were spoken by only a handful of students.

62 percent of the beginners who started SFI courses in 2004/05 passed one of their courses and of those almost half gained top grades.

The level of prior education varies greatly among SFI students. The Swedish Board of Education (Skolverket) reported in a memorandum that there is a close correlation between the basic education of students and success in the SFI course.

Those with Polish as a mother tongue typically had the highest number of years of basic school education with over 90 percent having a minimum of 10 years school education before signing up for the course. Only 20 percent of those of Somali origin had more than 10 years school education.

The Board’s statistics also indicated that younger students proved more successful than older and that there were clear differences among different language groups depending on the similarity of their mother tongue to Swedish.

The average age of SFI students in 2006/07 was 32-years-old and 57 percent of the students were women.

SFI courses were offered in 251 of Sweden’s 290 local authorities in 2006/07.