• Sweden's news in English

Foreigners 'blocked' from college courses

James Savage · 19 Jul 2010, 18:04

Published: 19 Jul 2010 18:04 GMT+02:00

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The system, introduced this year, obliges universities to prioritize students who have studied extra high school courses in certain subjects such as maths and languages - but only if they’ve studied in the Swedish system. People who have been schooled outside of Sweden are relegated to a different quota group.

The complex new system threatens to shut foreigners out of some courses completely, critics warn. The size of the quota group must reflect the percentage of foreign applicants. On small courses with small numbers of foreign applicants, this can lead to foreigners being shut out entirely.

The system has already led to complaints from students from other Scandinavian countries: Danish student Emma Vig was rejected for a course in Japanese at Lund University, despite having top marks in her Danish high school exams.

Denmark’s science minister, Charlotte Sahl-Madsen, has said she plans to complain to her Swedish counterpart.

Icelandic ministers have also indicated their displeasure, pointing out that Sweden has signed agreements with the other Nordic countries that bind Swedish universities to treat other Nordic students the same as domestic applicants.

The Swedish National Agency for Higher Education now wants the system to be changed. Leif Strandberg, who is conducting a study into the issue on behalf of the agency, says the rules break European law and agreements with other Nordic countries:

“It is not in line with the agreements to have a separate quota group - it is not a method that treats applicants equally,” he told the Sydsvenskan newspaper.

But Malin Strid, political advisor to Higher Education Minister Tobias Krantz, said the system was designed to be fairer:

“It’s hard to translate foreign grades in the first place, but even harder when you have to take extra courses into account. This system with quotas was devised as a way to ensure foreign students were treated fairly," she told The Local.

Strid also pointed out that universities are allowed to allocate up to one third of places entirely at their own discretion, meaning that foreign students can be given places even if they don’t fit within a quota group.

Story continues below…

The problem also affects Swedes who have gone to high school abroad. An exception has been made for people who have studied the International Baccalaureate and those who were educated in the Finnish system.

The government has said it will appoint a committee of inquiry to look at the problem and to propose solutions.

James Savage (james.savage@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

18:29 July 19, 2010 by Beavis
What? Sweden breaking EU law! It may be a member but Sweden blatently ignores EU law on pretty much everything!
21:51 July 19, 2010 by kenny8076
i just applied to Umea univeristy, 6 coarses because that is the max your allowed to apply for if from outside the EU, which is really wierd. I have a highschool diploma from the US and am here on a residents permit with my swedish girlfriend. I really hope i get into at least one class. Last semester i didn't, not even into Introduction to Swedish culture, which i couldnt believe i didnt get into, it said i was unqualified. I didnt graduate with honors but if i dont qualify for Swedish culture we have a problem!!
21:52 July 19, 2010 by wenddiver
I want to study Japanese. Where would be the ideal place to study Japanese? Of course Sweden!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Todays colleges produce the utures leaders. Scarry!
00:07 July 20, 2010 by G Kin

That is too bad man!. Graduated from Umeå Uni not long ago. What course did you plan to read?

Sometimes it helps to contact the student coordinator.

Infact I never really applied through studera, but then not that many apply to study Physics!
00:10 July 20, 2010 by crabapples
what about the people studying in swedish high schools, but are taking the non-swedish curriculum? eg. IB

I'm not allowed to go to university in my own country? that totally makes sense, thanks.
03:37 July 20, 2010 by waffen
Sweden should honor the Nordic countries agreement and treat their students just like they would treat their own Swedish students.
09:54 July 20, 2010 by skatty

If your girlfriend is Swedish, then you have already got the introduction to Swedish culture, there is not more to get, however I suggest you to watch TV if you really want more introduction, to go to University for that is just wasting of time!
11:00 July 20, 2010 by hjoian
not the first case of sweden blatently breaking eu law.....immigration cases are REALLY bad!
11:25 July 20, 2010 by Kanedaa
Sweden being elitist?

That's a surprise :)
11:45 July 20, 2010 by Audrian
Vague requirements give power to bureaucrats, who might interpret these requirements the way it fits their narrow interest, even when they are in conflict with the over all objective of education system. Particularly, preventing foreigners from attending Swedish schools is nationalism of the worst type.
11:47 July 20, 2010 by temmyhad thorou

Another good new is that Swedish Universities have now set their Tuition fees

Lund, Karolinska ;


Ha ha ha good !!!! 2-3 international students

SSSB, brace up to reduce your rent !!!! less foreign student ,

less partonage
12:04 July 20, 2010 by spongepaddy
That's a really hot woman in the photo. I'm just saying.
13:58 July 20, 2010 by temmyhad thorou
The tution fee for foreign student is now 180,000 SEK a year to study at Karolinska for masters ,while at Lund university is between 90,000-140,000.

Cheaper than UK and US
14:43 July 20, 2010 by kenny8076
haha skatty thanks for the heads up but im unemployed and far from home so i have nothing BUT time lol. i just signed up for the coarse and some other swedish culture/history classes because i assumed they would be the easiest to get into. I was just trying to get into the system.

''Temmyhad'' 180,000SEK equals about 25,000USD, thats not cheaper than the US, some university's it is the same and Ivy league colleges of coarse cost more but if you go to an instate university your looking at 10-12 grand a year, even cheaper if you live off campus with roommates. My brother got an Informatics degree from I.U. at around 8000USD a year. Just because something is free dosn't mean its of better quality. I would rather pay for a great university with endless technology and research abilities than a free college with limited resources.
16:45 July 20, 2010 by J Jack
@ beavis, you're right about that, the only times Sweden notices EU law is when they want some money for something.
17:30 July 20, 2010 by bluezorg
This "system" is an elegant solution to the problem of having to compete with foreign students who often (a) arrive with a better basic education and (b) are willing to work much harder. Well, apart from building a better basic education system and working harder, that is ;-)
18:01 July 20, 2010 by mzilikazi
with no university in the top 100 who wants to go and study in sweden anyway
19:50 July 20, 2010 by ou2chi
@temmyhad thorou

Looks like you do not know hat you are talking' about mate. Even for a non-EU students, the kind of fees (SEK 180,000) is higher than top universities like Oxbridge. Now comparing any Swedish University with Oxbridge is a travesty, don't you think? And 90,000 to 140,000 for Lund? Ha ha ha!
04:16 July 21, 2010 by Luke35711
Is it just me, or is Sweden essentially a bundle of hidden contradictions? Fiercely egalitarian, but also viciously elitist. All politically correct and humanitarian, but deep down inside nationalistic to the point of making it their religion. Active

in all international institutions, but most of the time completely ignoring international rules and doing everything the 'Swedish way". Everything is transparent and there is supposedly no corruption, yet I have never met so many bullying ignorant authority figures or witnessed so much back-room dealing.

Sweden is one giant conspiracy that gives modernity bad reputation!
04:20 July 21, 2010 by askin
Here is what you get for 180.000 kr. worth medical degree:

My mother had breathing difficulty nearly after each time she ate. They hospitalized her and looked for the reason with very expensive examinations. She went to the "acute" three times in the best known Stockholm hospitals. Her condition remained the same until she met a Polish doctor

educated in Poland, who said she had constipation and treated her with a few figs and a spoonful of cottonseed oil (linfroolja) everyday. She is completely treated after this.
12:25 July 21, 2010 by here for the summer
@ou2chi .. you're right about Oxford I looked it up just 3250 pounds but expected to triple i was shocked. The 180000 sek is cheaper than US ivy league ( 50k USD ) which I think Karolinska does compete with and Lund and Upsalla are also good.
12:57 July 21, 2010 by americanska
It's generally always cheaper to study in yoru home country. Because in most countries - Yes, even the US. Most Universities are at least partially funded by taxes. Which is why in the US you get more goverment grants and subsidized loans when you study in state. Poeple need to stop expecting a free ride. Why not just study at your home university and then study abroad through them for a semester or a year?

I'm not sure where some of these people are getting US tuition figures from. $50K?? Most state universities will be more like $10-15K. But once you figure in the grants and loans (and the fact that those costs usually include room and board). It's probably no more expensive to go to school in Sweden for "Free" and then take out huge loans to pay for a little apartment. Not to mention the taxes that everyone is paying and the general lack of choice and student support you find in Sweden.
13:22 July 21, 2010 by here for the summer
@amer.. I am positive just had to pay for a kid at Notre dame 22k per semester 44k per year and yale was high 40's just a few years ago. The state Universities are cheaper for in state only ( long term residents of the state ). Out of state tution is double or triple making your 15k 30k usd and Ivy league is :

13:47 July 21, 2010 by Dogs_Gonads
Lund Uni is in at Nr.67 of the world ranking.
14:18 July 21, 2010 by LeoKinmann
Lund is not number 67, Uppsala is around number 67. Lund is in the 90s. Karolinska is around 40 something. I just spent one year at Cornell Uni, and that's Ivy League. The tuition fee of Cornell ranges from 37000 USD per year to well above 50000 USD per year. Luckily I was there on exchange from Uppsala so paid nothing aside from the living expenses and minor processing fees. The cheapest college with 37k/yr is College of Agricultura and Life Science, which is a part of a bigger system known as SUNY, the State Universities of New York. However, I still consider the tuition fee offered by Swedish schools to be overpriced. Paying 50k USD to Cornell ranked somewhere around 12th in the world gives you a better education than you can hope for in Sweden. If you take into account the possibility of finding job, the language and cultural barrier (you have to learn Swedish to ever get a serious job in Sweden) and other living expenses (food and clothes are actually more expensive in Sweden than in most of US), any foreign student will forgo Sweden for US, UK or any English-speaking country. In Uppsala I met a whole bunch of master students from China. They told me how hard it is to find job in Sweden after their 2-year-program. As a researcher, you don't always have time to learn the language properly. The only incentive for them coming to Sweden is the absent tuition fee. it remains to see how the high tuition fee will affect the number of incoming foreign students. altho im worried it's probably gonna decrease drastically.
14:22 July 21, 2010 by americanska
here for the summer. I know - as i said. it's cheaper to go where your from and your better off. just doing an exchange program for a year or so.

was that cost as notre dame including room and board?
14:46 July 21, 2010 by Luke35711
Studied and worked at top unis both in the UK and in Sweden, and UK gives at least 2 better education. Add language, and total lack of jobs for young people in Sweden, and yeah, the choice is obvious.

Also, on a human level, one is much better treated in the UK. People in the UK may be sometimes brush but they are warm on the inside. Here, people will be all smiles, but totally cold inside. At the end of the day, if your philosophy is nationalism, then... yeah, you get exactly that.
15:16 July 21, 2010 by here for the summer
@ameri you're right about room and board if you that adds another 80k krona. You understand this is a much improvement from the earlier Swedish policy which gave free tuition to anyone from anywhere in the world. They now intend to charge world rates for the average student and offer some achievement based scholarships for certain poor countries ( 9 of 12 ) in Africa and some general scholarships.

All the students are complaining but depending on the details it could be better for Sweden and Swedish education but it could be worse too. The US university research programs are fueled by Indian and Chinese grad students.
17:30 July 21, 2010 by LeoKinmann
That's because they are in US, the land of opportunity and the official home of the world's best universities. Even if the American elite schools increase their already expensive fee by a significant amount, the Indian and Chinese grad students WILL go there. Just because. No offense here but according to what I've seen stateside, Sweden has much to catch up. When a tuition fee comparable to the tuition fee of UK or US introduced in Sweden, it's gonna look like this: the foreign students put their top bet on Ivy League or other elite schools in America, the best will be picked and granted matriculation; the second tier goes to places like UK, Australia; next in line are the non-English speaking countries. Sweden is right there.
22:18 July 21, 2010 by juliana82
@Luke35711, great insight :)
22:28 July 21, 2010 by americanska
Here for the sumer. 80kr for room and board. is that per day?

i know for a fact that even if you are swedish and get "free" tuition and all the other benifit you have to take out significant loans just to get by.

a room in stockholm or uppsala....a room. will cost you at least 2000 kr a month if you are lucky. plus everything else you need to live. I was pointing out that most of those costs are included in the US. And there is no decent support for swedish students.

as for foreigners like me going to sweden and paying for school. it make sense but sweden needs to be prepared for a max exodus of talent. they will need to compete on education quality rather than bribing them by saying "come here and our citizens will pay for you"
23:05 July 21, 2010 by here for the summer
@amer . sorry for not being clear I ment 80k to mean 80,000 kr for the year . Just annualized the swedish government 7500 kr per month requirement for living expenses but that as you point out is a low ball unless you really live as a student 2 to a room and no individual apartments.

As to your comments on paying for school it is what it is. The schools and research are what they are. Pretty good by international standards it seems and some are superior, like Handels Business school http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stockholm_School_of_Economics.

Karolinska medical research. claims to be #8 in the world ..Lund claims top 100.

I'd send my kids to either when they're old enough.
01:18 July 22, 2010 by Luke35711

Thank you! Are you yourself Swedish, and if 'yes' do you think your country is on the right track, now?
13:44 July 23, 2010 by temmyhad thorou
Thanks everybody for your comments with regards to this. Of course Swedish government is free to charge fee; as long as you have what people will pay for,

I mean quality and not quantity!

I am a doctoral student,I have to go to several universities outside Sweden to learn some methodologies to be used for my research. This I did bcos I can not afford to waste my sponsors money which is my own country governement .


In addition, being fluent in Swedish does not help you as a foreign student in any way to secure a good job. I once work for a firm that recruited me for the sole aim of stealing my skills. When I got hold of this I sacked them.

So let the school charge even 100 SEK, no student with good academic background wld come and do research here.
18:00 July 23, 2010 by IWP
As Beavis said, Sweden consistently breaches EU law. My own personal favourite, as a former UK lawyer, was the Swedish hemp farmer case (check it out in Local's archives) where it seemed that the judiciary, govt legal advisors etc simply don't understand EU law and its general primacy. It's really a scary thought. The bumbling behaviour of the Sweedle courts over the poor hemp farmers case was akin to Mr Bean sitting in appellate judgement. The general point at issue was one which most first-year law students would have grasped and understood. Unsurprisingly, perhaps, the Swedish justice system did not!
22:02 July 23, 2010 by Anon 1:50
Strange practice, that is.

Why not simply have "Out-of-State" tuition rates that will reduce costs to Swedish nationals, help fund the universities at no cost to the taxpayers, and use simple economics to provide preferred admission?

If qualifications are truly the problem, require a (paid) entrance exam for the subjects sought. Keep student quality high, and enhance the overall effectiveness of the teaching.

It's the capitalist way!
01:30 August 12, 2010 by goitom semere
just for all who call them self, human beings,here i am to day able to sign up and see what can i get.

i used to study day and night in africa, in a country called eritrea,in some how till i forced to be solider,i have been a collague student in eritrea, the inhuman treatment that held on me push me to ask asyl and protection from the swedish government,i allreday get the permission to live in sweden,and i am heartly thankfull for it.

from the time i reach here i keep asking evryone one how could i continue my education,how could i at least have a better life devoting my self deeply in to it,here what the comments i read gave me a hard shock and all my expectation and dream goes to the ground, just pls and humanly help me , by your comments and advices ,whom do i have to contact,here i am a stranger ,living alone,no family , no friend, i feel like i am in no man s land.
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