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'Foreign student places under threat': agency

Peter Vinthagen Simpson · 12 Mar 2010, 14:14

Published: 12 Mar 2010 14:14 GMT+01:00

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"There is a high probability that fewer places will be on offer to foreign students," Alexandra Sjöstrand, an investigator at the agency, told The Local on Friday.

In practice the changes mean that there will be four new sub-groups within the group of applicants admitted on their high-school grades: Swedish grades, Swedish grades supplemented with further study, foreign grades, and (Swedish) Folk High School grades.

Previously, all the various non-Swedish standard grade systems were translated into an equivalent Swedish grade for consideration. Students, both Swedish and non-Swedish, will still be able to apply through the Swedish Scholastic Aptitude Test (Högskoleprovet) or through the alternative application category, which has been increased to 30 percent of places under the new regulations.

Sjöstrand confirmed that the agency has told the government that the new regulations could be discriminatory against other EU citizens and thus in breach of EU law.

"We looked through the existing legislation and there could be a problem. But this is something that would have to be tried in court. We have made it perfectly clear that it should be looked at," she said.

The new rules come into force in the autumn as part of the government's aim to encourage Swedish high-school children to favour certain subjects. Maths and modern languages, for example, will now be awarded separate bonus points.

"It is possible that the government could argue to the EU that the bonus points lack a comparable system internationally. The bonus system is adapted to the Swedish system," Sjöstrand said.

According to Sjöstrand, the government has agreed to allow those holding Swedish (and Finno-Swedish) International/European Baccalaureate (IB/EB) grades to qualify through the Swedish grades category.

The agency said that those with IB/EB grades issued by other countries would qualify for consideration within the Swedish grade category.

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The changes therefore mean that anyone with high-school qualifications from an alternative grades system - such as the UK A-Level system and the US high school diploma or GED systems, will be limited to the foreign grades category.

"This does not necessarily mean fewer places, as they are allocated according to the number of qualified students applying, but in subjects less popular with foreign students there is a high probability that assigned places will decline," Alexandra Sjöstrand told The Local.

The Local has made attempts to contact the Minister for Higher Education and Research, Tobias Krantz, but was told that he was unavailable for comment.

Peter Vinthagen Simpson (news@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

17:26 March 12, 2010 by ChomskyReader
I put a post up about this on the discussion board about two ago. Most people replied in a jovial manner, something so serious cannot be ignored!

The way things were explained to me by a concerned student advisor at the Umeå university international office was thus:

When applying for a program, 60% of the places will go to those who meet the högskoleprovet grades, 40% of the places will go to those students that meet the grade coming straight out of gymnasiet schools, he then went on to say approx 1-2 places will be reserved for people coming out of the folkhögskolan then 1-2 places for those with foreign education, now these figures were his own interpretation he did worked out my grades and even though things look good for me, a natural swede can technically get into the program on lower grades than me because more places are allocated to them, which is very definitely discriminatory.
17:29 March 12, 2010 by jag2009
I agree with you ChomskyReader

I think it just show how stupid it can be in sweden.Like you could go there with a degree from Harvard or Oxford and still consider anything swedish better . its stupid.
17:35 March 12, 2010 by ChomskyReader
What is even more alarming to support your point jag2009. Swedish students often go to Denmark or Poland to study medicine, because it is hard to get into the universities in Sweden.

Then they return and end up working within the fields they studied in, however if a person from Poland came here with the same education even if they spoke Swedish it would be very difficult for them to find work in their profession, as their degrees are consider inferior, quite odd really!
17:54 March 12, 2010 by livinginsweden

This is sweden and if you dont like the swedish ... you know the way.... out

ha ha
18:07 March 12, 2010 by ChomskyReader

I never said anything about a dislike to Sweden nor the Swedish people.
18:23 March 12, 2010 by here for the summer
@chomsky this should make it easier for native swedes to get into these schools and not have to go to Denmark.. why is this bad ?

all countries should take care of their native born 1st
18:40 March 12, 2010 by ChomskyReader
@here for the summer, you are missing the point, an educated population is a productive one. I have not said that Swedes are not entitled to a place, nor have I said that they should be overlooked for the sake of immigrants.

However there are educated immigrants here that do want to get in and get on, instead of going back 15 years which is when this system was first introduced they (government) should be looking forward, figures suggest that Sweden's population will need an influx of immigrant workers in the coming 10 years, would it not be beneficial for the country if these immigrants had a fairer chance at a decent education? As they current do?
19:03 March 12, 2010 by kenny8076
@ here for the summer

because then the system will begin to dumb itself down. Picking ''natives'' instead of academically achieved does nothing for a country claiming to care so much about international students coming to Sweden. like someone said if i came here with a degree from a top notch university or ivy league school and wasn't chosen to attend because a less achieved ''native'' deserved it because they are well....... simply...... born here would set Sweden's standard at a medium range at best. Sweden needs cultural mixed students here, i have been here 3 months and can say they don't have much culture here, except what they bite off of America!

all honesty i dont think they have to worry about people being denied, because no one is going to pay 70-80,000SEK ($12,000USD) to attend a mediocre Swedish college where you wont even be able to find work while your studying for things you need. There starting to limit Sweden to Swedes and quite honestly, lol they can have it!
19:34 March 12, 2010 by here for the summer
@kenny respectfully I think you're wrong. Swedish culture for an American is almost like being home.

Preschool in america costs 12k USD so Swedish undergradiuate University is cheap international standards. They still will have scholarships for the brightest students so the standards will go up.

As a part time Swedish resident and a supporter of US research I can say that at the Graduate level US and Sweden both have many talented international students and great programs. Swedish research is well known.
21:06 March 12, 2010 by O.S.
Its like this, first tuition fees will be introduced to universities limiting the number of foreign students and then limiting it even more with this.

I have been studying here for the last 6 month and still have at least a year and a half to go, and let me tell you this, its extremely difficult to me to get along in Sweden, for the following:

I am not allowed to have a Swedish ID which is the ONLY accepted ID in Sweden, so everyday I have to carry my passport around, risking the probability of losing it, and if you are Non-European you will know what I mean.

I am not allowed to have a Visa/Master card, allowing me to buy stuff online.

I am not allowed to have a European health card, restricting my health coverage to Sweden only.

Moreover, it would cost at least 1600 SEK for one level to join an accredited Swedish Language Course.

To be honest, I lived in Germany and France for quiet a while and I didn't face any of the problems I face in Sweden.
21:06 March 12, 2010 by mikmak
@kenny "been here 3 months and can say they don't have much culture here, except what they bite off of America! "

Umm, you think 3 months is enough to state that?
21:36 March 12, 2010 by engagebrain
21:06 March 12, 2010 by O.S.

To be honest, I lived in Germany and France for quiet a while and I didn't face any of the problems I face in Sweden.

so after a massive whinge you are still getting a free education in Sweden paid for by Sweden- a little gratitude might be in order.
22:15 March 12, 2010 by O.S.
@ engagebrain

I do pay for everything in Sweden except for the tuition fees, besides in Germany it costs 500 euros per semester and the living expenses are much cheaper than Sweden.

btw and its considered "free education" as well in Germany!

Get the equation !?!?
00:09 March 13, 2010 by Localer
enough already, stop complaining and be grateful ! and if you don't like it, you know the way out......i completely agreed that Sweden should take care of their native born 1st...
08:12 March 13, 2010 by Rick Methven
The education system of ANY country must be designed to meet the requirements of that country. The majority of students entering higher education will always come from the indigenous population, any surplus places may then be made available to foreign students. It is not reasonable or practical to have a 2 tier system of entry requirements just to cater for a minority.

Unless a Swedish University offers a course that is unavailable in a foreign students home country, or The Swedish University is rated the best in the world then foreign students would be better off undergoing their higher education in their own country in their own language.

Years ago many young people took a couple of years off between high school and university and went on trips to foreign countries. Today the trend is to combine travelling around with a continuation of education and Sweden has become a popular destination for education tourists because of a free education system. If there are places available, then they can be taken up by foreign students who meet the local entry requirements.

With regard to the complaints about lack of job opportunities either during the time spent studying or after graduation. 30 years or so ago, Sweden had overfull employment and so getting employment for foreigners was easier. Today that is not the situation and there are more Swedes looking for a job than foreigners. It is natural in any country that locals will receive priority in jobs ahead of any foreigner even if the foreigner has better qualifications. A Swedish company looking to recruit a new employee has to way up the balance between paper qualifications against the cost of training a foreigner who is more likely to leave than a Swede adding more cost to the employer in the future.

To all you wingers, Sweden or the world does not owe you a living. When you go to any country you must fit in to the local situation. If you go around wanting everything to change to fit the personal cosy way you would like things to be, then you are never going to be happy.
09:13 March 13, 2010 by Puffin
I have absolutely no idea why some of you are talking about Oxford and Harvard degrees!!

This reform has absolutely NOTHING to do with post graduate applications - the new system relates ONLY for applications for undergraduate bachelor degrees - 99% of which are taught entirely in Swedish.

Therefore applicants are going to have to be fluent in Swedish with a recognised Swedish exam to get in

As applicant have to be fluent is Swedish anyway to get in - many choose to take Sweden qualifications and apply in the Swedish groups as well

- they can take the SWESAT university entrance test and get into one of the Swedish applications groups.

- Or potential students can take a Swedish gymnasiet qualification - for free - at komvux - while they are learning Swedish - quite a few people do this anyway if they come from exam only secondary education systems where top grades are hard to achieve
12:55 March 13, 2010 by jag2009
totally respect peoples opinions, but the reason why people are talking about Oxford and ivy league colleges in USA is because of the difference between academic status, and a pure xenophobic education system.

If someone came to sweden, fluent in swedish and studied at Oxford yet was English, would they get the same respect and oppertunity as someone swedish? No!

What it bores down to is, Sweden claims to be a country which intigrate - well they dont. Its a case of if your not swedish then forget it. For the people who are saying "well if you dont like it you can go" - how about if usa said that to all the swedes in usa? In terms of education.... the language is english... you doit in swedish no person would care. And to be honest... going on research its once again UK, Germany, USA who are the ones with the research.

The education is free for foreigners in sweden because its useless. And people wouldnt pay to get an education from sweden when they have better choices.

Be a wakeup call for the swedes when most of Sweden turns out like Malmo. Then we will all hear "this isnt swedish" welcome to the real world.
15:06 March 13, 2010 by scrawler
Its a good decision from the education board members..!! but still i believe that all swedes accepts this valuable point..! here all education system is more concerned about grades..! i mean here the way professor evaluate the students answer sheet is very harsh....!!!

students much worried about the grades just clear the subject and finish the degree rather enriching and developing knowledge is less anchored in the minds of lads.!

it doesn't mean that those who are enrolled are dumb..! So, area of research is widely open while doing Phds only research should be open to all level of higher education system, so that students will have awareness about the subject unless until doing Phd.

Professor of Sweden hardly encourage (that means not all) the good student , motivation is the important for a person to mold his or her ideas rather worrying more about the system..! I believe that this also one of the reason for less number of swede in universities.!
17:05 March 13, 2010 by vladd777
I think this is a positive move as we need more swedish born doctors and dentists.

At the moment it is very hard for swedes to get accepted to university because of the lowered quota of places.
20:49 March 13, 2010 by silly t
Sweden doesnt have a culture yet if they do then its weird. And for those who think international students should be grateful for the education they receive,your view is quite myopic. the free education has an implicit cost even higher than what they would have paid in other countries. Doesnt international students work and pay fees in other countries? The cost of integrating in a very closed society;unwelcoming to foreigners,the language barrier(a localized language),and the near impossibility of getting a job are the costs that exceed free education. No international student would be so foolish to pay a dime in Sweden when they can pay the same amount for education elsewhere.
21:02 March 13, 2010 by sebseb
In Sweden, you get "G", which means "pass" with 50%. In Canada, you fail with 50% and even with 60%, you are expelled of the program.

So, I've got an average of A at university back i Canada, but if I look at the transfers from my High School grades, I don't even know if I can get into a Uni program in Sweden.

There is something very wrong with this new system!

No wonder people at Studera.nu give me answers like if they had a IQ of 45 with a polite manner whatsoever.
02:12 March 15, 2010 by glamelixir
@chomsky Totally agree with each and every word you wrote, I understand exactly what you are talking about.

@ sebseb EXACTLY! I wonder these kind of things myself every day. As for Studera, I am still trying to get two straight answers from them:

1- What do they consider "foreign student". An immigrant living in Sweden for 3 years, who pays taxes here and wants to study, would be a foreign student? If no, why do I have to apply for a master with the international deadline and not the local?

2- If I have a validated degree from hogskolaverket from my original degree, which states a totally different fields of study from the original, why can't they display this degree to the Universities in they data base? they responded 'cause it is not swedish.. mmm mistake, IT IS, my original degree is another, that was given by them!! whatever, don't want to bother all of you with this.

To all the rest who claim that "we know our way out" I have to tell you, as a well educated immigrant who speaks four languages (including yours), have already a Licenciatexam and was a successful businesswoman for 10 years. TRUST ME, I would love to go back, but I married a Swede, and it is a complicated situation too long to explain so for leaving I will have to leave the most important person in my life. So don't be so narrow minded, understand that not everyone that comes to Sweden is undereducated, a gold digger or someone searching for salvation. Some of us could be a wonderful asset to the country and still are unemployed or offered cleaning jobs.
07:53 March 20, 2010 by ameribrit

I think this is a positive move as we need more swedish born doctors and dentists.

At the moment it is very hard for swedes to get accepted to university because of the lowered quota of places.

If you want more "Swedish born" Docs and dentists then maybe you should ask the question of why Uppsala and Lund universities, among others, are placing a huge block in the way of Örebro University getting a Med School. There is a shortage of places in Med school here and a shortage of Doctors in Sweden but the "Old Guard" is still out there protecting their interests at the expense of the rest of this country. Even here in this "most Egalitarian" of societies the SEK rules over alla.
14:29 May 5, 2010 by schweinefettmann
i have no issues with this, really... in the US, if its a state school, they favor local students, which makes sense. if it were a privately run institution, they make their own admission rules up, as they are privately funded.

and since swedish schools are state run (all of them bar SLU are under the education ministry), surely they should be allowed to do this.

regardless, since eu laws rules supersedes all national laws, we will see how it sits.
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