Foreign students’ complaints flood Swedish education agency

Foreign students' complaints flood Swedish education agency
Complaints from foreign students who’ve been rejected from Swedish universities have left the National Agency for Higher Education (Högskoleverket) struggling to keep up.

Last year, the Agency’s board of appeals received a total of 1,500 requests from students wishing to appeal admissions decisions made by Swedish universities, reports the Dagens Nyheter (DN) newspaper.

So far this year, around 3,300 students have filed reports, and two universities, Stockholm University and the Royal Institute of Technology (KTH), account for about 20 percent of the complaints.

Both schools receive a high number of applications from foreign students seeking entry to the schools’ various masters programmes, including computer science, engineering, and the natural sciences.

And many of those who don’t ultimately gain admission have taken to venting their frustrations to Högskolverket.

“The possibility to appeal is a fundamental right for the students. But the consequence has been that our lawyers have had to put aside their everyday tasks,” said Eva Westberg, head of Högskolverket’s legal department, to DN.

The head of Högskolverket’s board of appeals, Anders Mellstrand, is sympathetic to foreign students who are upset to learn they have not been admitted to the Swedish university of their choice.

“If you come from a different education system it can be hard to see how your own accomplishments will measure up. And to get a free education in Europe is desirable for students from other parts of the world,” he told the newspaper.

Mellstrand recently issued a memo to the heads of Sweden’s universities which explained that appeals from foreign students require the most effort because it’s hard to judge the merits and educational background to which applicants point in their complaints.

But Muhammad Atif Nisar, a native from Lahore, Pakistan now studying at KTH, doesn’t think it’s that hard to figure out what is needed to get accepted to a Swedish university.

“Everything you need to know you can find on the internet,” he told DN.