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Sweden mulls application fees for foreign students

TT/David Landes · 15 Sep 2009, 08:02

Published: 15 Sep 2009 08:02 GMT+02:00

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According to a proposal from the Swedish Agency for Higher Education Services (Verket för högskoleservice – VHS), the fee would be in place in time for students applying for admission for the 2011 academic year, reports the Dagens Nyheter (DN) newspaper.

In addition to applicants from within the EU, exchange students would also be exempt from any eventual fee.

The proposed fee comes following years of increasing numbers of applications from foreign students wishing to study in Sweden.

This autumn, Swedish universities received 114,900 applications from non-European students. Of the total, around 18,000 eligible students were offered admission.

The rising tide of applications has resulted in increased administrative costs for many universities and agencies, and VHS believes that introducing the application fee will lead to more serious and thoughtful applications and deter less motivated applicants.

VHS plans to hand over its proposal to the government on Monday for consideration.

In tasking the agency to explore the matter, the government had said it hoped to implement application fees in time for the 2010 academic year. But VHS said that trying to move so quickly would risk a total breakdown in the application system for both Swedish and foreign students.

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“That could result in chaos because a large number of the applications would have to be dealt with manually. But even if it starts in 2011, we need to know by October at the latest in order to get the application and payment systems in place,” VHS director Anita Johansson told DN.

TT/David Landes (news@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

09:51 September 15, 2009 by TheBlindGeek
I'm applying to study in Sweden for the spring semester. It looks like I did just in time. What about tuition; are going to charge non-EU citizens for that if this plans goes through?
10:10 September 15, 2009 by antoniolgj
That can be a good news. That could reduce the number of bogus students who come here only to apply for residency after study for a little while.

Let's wait and see...
10:15 September 15, 2009 by hpunlimited
Very good that they atleast are starting to take out some fee's. It is unrealistic to give out free higher education to foreigners that are not paying tax in this country and to people that are not intending to stay in the country after the studies are over. It is good that atleast some money comes back to the education system.
10:23 September 15, 2009 by benraph
Most other EU countries charge alot more to apply, plus you have to pay high fees for the University, so Swedens decision is very fair.
10:24 September 15, 2009 by celalo

I do not have a particular opinion about application fees but it is not true that higher education is free. I am spending up to 10000 SEK every months for this or that. Besides, quite much people are returning their countries although they would like to stay because the job market is not enough.
10:30 September 15, 2009 by Ian11
Its brilliant, more money in the coffers and further administrative savings can be had by automating some of the application processes.
11:15 September 15, 2009 by peropaco
Great initiative and I would dare add that after completion of their studies, they should let them work at least for one or two years in a public institution as a form of gratitude to Sweden.
11:39 September 15, 2009 by crofab
I'm quite against tuition fees, but I think application fees are a pretty good idea to thin out the less-serious applicants. 1000 kronor seems a little high to me, though. I think 500 kr would be more appropriate.
11:44 September 15, 2009 by petermoul
nice step.. very clever .. it will discourage people to get admission here only to move out to other European countries for illegal work.
11:49 September 15, 2009 by Eurostan
excellent idea. it is too late. they would have done that two years before. in recent years there is exponential increase of non european students.

application fee should be like 5000 sek instead of introducing fee for education. only serious students only apply for education. swedish universities will get almost 1 billion sek.

too laaaaaaaaaaaaaaaate .
13:52 September 15, 2009 by calebian22

"Tuition" is free. 10,000 SEK per month for this and that? Yes, that is called food, rent and incidentals. Welcome to reality. If this seems like a lot, you can always go to the US and pay 25,000 dollars tuition for a midlevel college per year and also shell out your 10, 000 SEK per month for this and that. Considering foreigners currently get the same benefits of school that Swedes do, who do pay taxes in this country, I would complain a little less and thank a little more. The gravy train seems to be ending.
15:55 September 15, 2009 by Finwes
@ peropaco

Very good idea. I would have loved to do that if I had the opportunity.


I dont know about others but I DID really had the intentions of giving back to the system from which I took my higher education.

Now I'm working in a neighboring country and still have my further educational process running in sweden. Hope I will in some way contribute to that country in future.
15:57 September 15, 2009 by face2face2talk
I think it depends on how you are looking at this issue. If you see from financial point of view, you are all right.The Swedish government is going to join the global chargeable education system like the others in the rest of the world!

But if you look from another point of view that education is a natural right of human and everyone regardless of any financial view or social level should be allowed to have free right of education, it doesn't make sense anymore!

(Please consider that many prosperous students are often among the lowest social levels that are always face with financial problems in their career.)

In addition, we can't say that foreign students are not paying tax because they are paying tax during their living period in Sweden when they are going for shopping,traveling,renting,eating and so on. Also, they can be considered as long-term tourists who are spending money from their saving account and injecting money to the Swedish banks!

Nevertheless, VHS is not going to charge for application fees merely. They are going to charge also for tuition fees!. So, I think that after that, there is no inclination for non-European students to come Sweden and study while they have much better choices to choose!

Is it all the swedes wanted?!
16:52 September 15, 2009 by liveandletlive
I am a non-European studying in Sweden and am very grateful for this opportunity. I love living here and have spent considerable money to take intensive courses to become fluent in Swedish. I would love to work in Sweden and "pay back" if I could only get a job! I am a serious student and do contribute quite a bit of money to the local economy. I recognize that free tuition is very generous and would be happy to pay a $150 application fee. Certainly I wouldn't be so happy to pay a high yearly fee to study here. However, if necessary I would pay it because I want to continue my studies here.
16:55 September 15, 2009 by Atadhu
@ hpunlimited

I do agree some. Think otherway round. Foreigners those who are working in Sweden are paying TAXES and they would not get the same benifits as the Swedes get after their retirement. Where is the foreigners paid TAX money going? Everyone in Sweden is paying taxes in any way.It doesnt matter wheather he/she is a Europien/noneuropien, all are taxalbe and all are qualified for social benifits. Sweden is not inviting foreignes for free, its all for their country growth and it might be a mutual benifit for both.
17:30 September 15, 2009 by tigger007
one question!

will this effect only 3rd world countries. in the little very fine print at the bottom of the page. it will say all modern world states are not to pay this fee!
21:41 September 15, 2009 by sleeplesssweden
Why are you suckers and losers complaining about students going for the residence permits..if you were in thier shoes,would you do less?Or do you foolishly read all he books and foolishly go back like a fool to your country if the future looked bleak?

Its a wake up call...the survival of the fittest.Yes many do it and many more are still doing it but its for thier own good and anyone in thier shoes will do just the same

Keep it up swedish international---residence students!!!
22:39 September 15, 2009 by mariaa
swedish young people do not go to universities and they do not like to continue their education so instead of them the international students come and make the university like a university!!! i mean full of students..if the internationals do not come so swedish universities will be empty like their streets!!so dont complain about coming of internationals to your country,

Ofcourse i am agree about fees for application thats a good idea. but fees for universities will not work...no body will come to sweden and instead go to canada or australia witha good weather. when lots of internationals come so money come to sweden.....
22:53 September 15, 2009 by mobings
If just application fees then ok but any other initiative like yearly admission fees or so would just put many professors and staff working in admission administrative bodies like studera.nu on the unemployement list.
00:17 September 16, 2009 by ronyasif
1000 sek just for application fee.....mjke bra.it will suddenly reduce the number of applicants and motivated only serious students to apply swedish universities.But, think in other way, a meritorious student with having limited financial ability would dare to apply Sweden in future, caz of 1000 sek. Now he could easily apply to a university with scholarship scheme without paying any fees. This application fee would certainly reducethe number of these poor students also. And why the EU students would not pay any fee for that?What's the logic behind this?Aren't they economically capable?Why the will not pay any tution from 2011?Why Swedish people pay tax for those rich students?If a Swedish student want to study in other EU university, will he get free education from the?Will he get free education from UK,Netherlands, Belgium, Switzerland? If not, then why Sweds should offer free education to them? These EU citizens have the ability to pay tution and they are not paying.....and students coming from third world, who has limited financial ability, the would have to pay.....ridiculous!!!!

By the way, some of you posting that ''these international students don't want to stay in Sweden after completing their education, so they are not viable for Sweden''...have you carefully reviewd Swedish immigration policy and their job market? What is the future of Sweden for a foreign student? No future.....Will a foreign student be able to get a work permit after completing his degree? NO....Will he be able to get a good job here without knowing Swedish?..No....all good jobs are reserve for Swedes....foreigners can only do odd jobs....so, why should a student stay here, where everything is kept for Swedes...Why they would not try for America or Canada, which are the land of equal opportunities.....?????Any answer???

I think Swedes have to learn a lot of thinks from other countries like US, Canada, Australia, UK.....
02:22 September 16, 2009 by face2face2talk
@mariaa & @ronyasif : Completely agreed. Thanks.
03:00 September 16, 2009 by glamelixir
Finally!!! something that makes sense!

How ilogical is to pay for education to foreigners with our taxes?

I think it is an excellent inniciative.
03:21 September 16, 2009 by jag2009
I don't know if/how much it costs to study in Sweden, but from reading the previous comments i'm guessing its free for foreigners? I think its worth pointing out that universities are businness's. In other eu countries I know for a fact UK they earn three times more money out of a foreign student than a UK student. As previously mentioned... Sweden needs to learn from other countries such as UK, Germany and USA. I think your find this money to apply will be more of a tax then improving education.

I think a better proposal would be stop allowing prospective students doing crap degrees which the ecconomy don't need and adding more to the tax payers bill. I think its a real case that Sweden needs foreigners for there institutions and that includes the Karolinska Institute. Sweden has a superb education system but the university system and quality worries me. I think it shows a true prospective when you go... USA have Harvard, UK have Oxford, Germany have Technical University. And all these institutions have foreigners, don't have a ridiculous entry fee and are know world wide. If the foreingers had a choice of university they choose the swedish one as its cost effective, otherwise the other three mentioned outshine.
04:25 September 16, 2009 by Greg in Canada
This will sort out the "tire kickers" from the serious applicants. There are probably all kinds of foreign applicants that apply because its free but aren't really serious about studying in Sweden. This wastes time, effort and money for university administration. 1000 Kr isn't going to prevent any serious student from studying in Sweden.
08:33 September 16, 2009 by Akhtar Rasool
Hi everybody!Well I am not here to fight but to appeal to think before to decide something very serious. I would say how it would be if the education would be made available as free all over the world to increase the real competency level.

Also who does not know in the world that there are many privately owned bogus institutions are running in the uk just to get the foreign currency to feed to their economic system. All the time on media we can hear the news that now rules are going to be made strict and the other time we hear that the rules are going to be made easier for foreigners becasue the reality is, it depends on when they need more money. Not only this, to pretend to the world that how much competent, our institutions and we are.Ofcourse it is necessary to keep the system running on long run. Well this is right that they have gained true repute for some institutions but this is being used for wrong political means now. Its the same in US.

Anyway there is one more thought, perhaps the swedish government is under high stress from some externally more politically involved factors to stop free education as mainly the people from poor countries are getting benefits from this. How the difference between the poor and the rich can be secured if the swedish kind of systems will continue to exist. I am guessing it and perhaps I am 100% right in it. You will also think the same way if you ponder in the political structure in the world since after the US Afghan attack.

Please do think that our world is getting more risky day by day. We need to stand against who are using good things for wrong means rather to be victimed of some wrong politicians in the world.

I should say that this is the time that swedes should play some extraordianry role to stand against their government so that to save the friendly increasing interaction between the people of different parts of the world.

Please do understand what we going to increase in the world.

Integrity among people? or Differences among the people?

BTW I have completed my education from sweden and I'll remain thankful to sweden for this forever. I will like to do something for sweden if I may get chance in future.
12:27 September 16, 2009 by mobings
Just to share an idea with every one. What if Sweden gets full tution fees before any student starts classes, and whosoever complete the study within due time should be returned with the same money which he has paid. And those who failed to comply without any solid grounds should be black-listed at in nation-wide database with no money return. Rewards ( money back) and punishment( no money+black list) should be the criteria.
13:57 September 16, 2009 by felixina
Don't be so silly! Your universities will be empty! Look at MA classes, I have 2 people from EU and no Swedes at all! What will your professors and lectures do? Jobless PhDs that the future result for Sweden's decision, you take rather more give-me-money-for-doing-nothing asulyms that won't be so profitable for Sweden (they are hardly to learn Swedish, I am not going to say anything about their will to study, that's just next to impossible even to imagine) than 18000 students who can contribute something if you are open for their contribution.
14:14 September 16, 2009 by Aigbe73
The so-called international students , bulk of which are from developing countries, living below poverty line. The introduction of application fee of 1000kr will infact be an exploitation of the would be applicants. The system will be an organized scheme to swindle the applicants. The selection,process will no longer be transparent ,but strictly on greed economics, many will be turned down, the very momment their payments are confirmed; even those that finally make it, will fall to the next challenge possed by the immigrations board decision, that again involve non refundable fee which is another form of organised scheme or 419. In the end, most applicants will be successfully swindled and it will take sometime before the unsuspecting applicants will know that it is an organized scheme.
14:40 September 16, 2009 by liveandletlive
As a non-EU student studying in Sweden, I think the application fee is a great way to sort out the serious applicants from those who are just dabbling. Even 500 SEK would be enough to deter most dabblers and not prohibitive to most applicants. In order to be granted a residence permit, you have to prove that you have sufficient funds to support yourself for the entire period of study. So I don't know how impoverished students overcome this requirement. I had to provide proof that I have enough money to cover 7700 SEK per month for each year of my studies. And my actual expenses are more than this on a monthly basis.
15:32 September 16, 2009 by Taxlady
As someone who is employed in a large Swedish university, I think it is absolutely whacko that the present "free" education policy even exists. Universities here need more revenue here and people who do not live here should pay for the service. For years people who want an education in Canada and the US have had to pay something for it. It is a service paid for by residents and people who work and pay taxes. And it has been taken for granted for too long by free loaders. If prospective students do not have the money,get a job, take a loan.
18:22 September 16, 2009 by felixina
God, help me! Do you really think that 100 euro can stop me (a future illigal immigrant who will work illigally cleaning offices after your tax paid day) from taking a chance to receive a pesidence permit? That is just the first call that doors are closing. Just say that you are fed enough with immigrants and no use to pretend! Swedish parliament is working not on the right side, international students are not the matter! By the way, universities will just lose money, you will see that a few would choose Sweden to get a diploma, you are spitting into the well which you will drink from!
21:23 September 16, 2009 by Akhtar Rasool
I am fully agreed with mobings what he said above. I also had written something like this more elaborately which I am pasting now under:

I have one practically sound suggestion to separate the serious applicants (true seekers of knowledge) from the bogus applicants who use this as gateway to enter in the europe and then dont leave. Application fee can be placed between 500 to 2000 krones. Ofcourse this is also more for those who are from poor countries but anyway this atleast, swedes are obliged to have necessarily. How the system can work better, I will elaborate it with one example. Say one guy got admission in 1 year master programme. After admission, the whole fee (worth for one year) can be collected before the students enter sweden and then they should start studying.If the student is finished with one year study successfully, he should be returned his tutition fee. So the tution fee should work like a security for the students. If one really completes the education, he is rewarded his fee back in the end otherwise he should not only be sent back forcefully but his fee should also be transferred to the government account permanently. If the programme is two years, fee of one year should be collected and if the student completes one year successfully, he should not need to pay for second year and continue his studies. On the completion of two year study, it should work the same way as I said for one year's study above. This is what is really a true solution for the problems which the swedish government is facing due to bogus applicants. This system is easily manageable by the colleges and universitets authorities by themselves. Ofcourse the policy makers always have far better solutions then what I have suggested but if they are fair and the government is also fair to accept these. May God eliminate the ever increasing wrong people Himself from the world forever. Perhaps we can somehow replace the all existing wrong politicians of the world. How if we stop the use of cigrates to save revenue which only gives problem and we pay a lot for dangers only burning tobacco. Perhaps we can succeed to make this world better for ourselves and the next generations.
00:48 September 17, 2009 by Canada_Girl
University is free! That's amazing. My total degree plus some of cost of living amounts cost me about $50,000.00. for 5 years.

Swedes are lucky indeed.
04:28 September 17, 2009 by SwedeintheUK
This is Swedens way of helping the poor countries, it's a much more efficient way than sending money abroad to governments and agencies where you can't really be clear on where the money has been spent afterwards.

Educating the individual, in a democratic environment, is our contribution to a richer, freer and more democratic world.
07:56 September 17, 2009 by Rick Methven
"This autumn, Swedish universities received 114,900 applications from non-European students. Of the total, around 18,000 eligible students were offered admission"

So 85% of applicants from outside Europe did meet the minimum standard required to get a place in a Swedish university. The processing of these applications takes time and costs money. making would be students pay an application fee will reduce the number of bogus applicants and offset some of the costs. Maybe those who are offered a place could have the application fee repayed when they start their studies?
16:00 September 17, 2009 by Texrusso
Application FEE is the way to go. This will reduce the number of bogus applicants and also contributes to paying for administrative cost. However, 1000 kronor is way too much. Perhaps 100 to 500 kronor non refundable application fee would be just fair enough.
00:20 September 18, 2009 by ronyasif
If you really want 1000 sek application fee, so why don't you make it refundable to those candidates who couldn't manage their place in University?
05:14 September 18, 2009 by Greg in Canada
"University is free!"

Tuition is free. Cost of living and other associated costs aren't. Swedish students are still graduating with lots of student loan debt.
12:48 September 18, 2009 by montrealbonjour
Excellent idea by the Swedish government to finally institute a plan for tuition fees and application fees.


The fees being instituted at Swedish universities for foreign students are still MUCH cheaper than fees for foreign students who wish to study in, say, Quebec, Canada; as far as I know, it's the cheapest place to receive a high quality degree in North America. Tuition at McGill University or Universite de Montreal will run foreign students anywhere between $15,000-$25,000 a year, and they're two of the best universities in Canada.

Insituting application fees is a no-brainer. I know people who applied to four different Swedish universities as a back-up plan, with no SERIOUS intention of moving to Sweden; a just-in-case/would-be-so-awesome-to-get-free-a-education plan :P. I mean, people actually spend serious amounts of time looking through these applications and administering the entire process. Insituting application fees is a way to boost and improve the system, and hopefully deter those half-hearted applicants from applying.

It does suck for those who can't afford the $10,000/year and who were completely depending on Sweden or Scandinavia for their higher education. In reality, Sweden needs to compete and make money too; they can't take care of everyone.
18:24 September 18, 2009 by Moving2Lund
I love the fact that education is free in Sweden... it gives the policies so much respect! I would be really sad to see that change..

It is a wonderful statement to make that everyone has an equal right to education.. not just those who can afford it

It is also understandable that those who do not contribute to a system shouldn't benefit.. but maybe instead, they can set up more scholarships for international students.. that way, even those who can't afford it, can apply... this ensures that only serious students will be financed... and those who are not, will not take anything away from the economy.. but would have to pay a small fee

I just hope that the message of education for all won't disappear!
07:27 September 19, 2009 by Yaseer
I think this new system will disappoint a lot of deserving students too.I am a Pakistani,in my country there are not only very low number of universities but also there are a few universities which provide quality education.Some other are very costly.so a lot of poor & needy but intelligent & deserving students can not get admission in the university.Every year a lot of such students apply to Sweden for heigher education and got admission.Because Pakistan has only few universities so a lot of students could not got admission in university.I think Sweden government should consider on that not only pakistani,Indian,Bangali,Sirilankan but also all over the world deserving and intelligent students will disappoint by this decision.As government knows that if a student apply for admission and unfortunatily he/she could not got admission/ Visa as he/she will not dare to apply next time. so please please consider on my request. Yaseerahmad@hotmail.com
20:39 November 23, 2009 by Flaav33
I used to be non-EU before my country was accept in EU. This is how it is...if you come from another country to study here, it is often the case that these kind of students are not real students because they cannot finnish their degree here unless they have a Bachelor's already. Most students that are free-movers( not part of a programme) do it for the VISA. I did it too and I do not care. These fees are only gonna discriminate and segregate more the Swedish society.

I am still an honest tax payer , therefore people that think that only immigrants are doing tax fraude are the biggest retards on the planet. From my experience it is always a Swedish employer who does tax fraude. SWEDES please understand that an immigrant can't do tax fraude unless the Swedish employer decides so. Not all immigrants are garbage, stop with this racist mentality.
12:55 December 1, 2009 by mhsyed
I think its not a just decision. I am living and studying in Sweden more than 1 year and during this time I am spending all the money I brought with me, as you know there are no jobs here. Though I have tried my best to get any kind of job but in a vain. Free education is the only attraction in Sweden and implementing fees will restrain the foreigner students to study in Sweden.
09:32 December 6, 2009 by pinkheartsexy25
The government must stop bringing muslims here, it is unfair for us who are not muslims and they will ask us to pay. it is unfair.
22:50 December 27, 2009 by Hamad
From what I gather the situation has got worse since then, so essentially people are paying thousand Sek a year for access to a library and the odd interesting lecture if the academic isnt too busy researching.

Its all warehousing, those who want to learn can't due to the volume of numbers and those who want to coast do so.
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