Colleges and universities in Sweden which toss applications in the bin without judging their merits are breaking the law, the National Agency for Higher Education claims.
“We view this matter very seriously and have reacted as quickly as we could,” said the National Agency’s lead attorney Eva Westberg to the Upsala Nya Tidning newspaper.
The Association of Swedish Higher Education recently recommended that institutions of higher learning reject applicants from outside the EU and EEA without review.
The EEA, or European Economic Area, includes all 27 EU member states, as well as Norway, Iceland, and Liechtenstein.
The association, which promotes cooperation among Swedish colleges and universities, made the recommendation to its 42 member institutions in response to concerns over building pressure on the university admissions system following a steep increase in the number of foreign applications.
The association, which has been roundly criticized by the Swedish association of student unions (Sveriges Förenade studentkårer) for its actions, believes that the entire admissions system may break down without the measure.
The National Agency for Higher Education has launched a supervisory commission and universities must immediately report which laws they are using to support their decision to reject foreign applicants before the autumn term.
The discrimination and justice ombudsmen have been informed of the situation because the National Agency for Higher Education believes the recommendation may violate Sweden’s laws protecting the equal treatment of students.
Tossing out applications without review may amount to committing professional misconduct, writes the newspaper.