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Swedish universities suffer enrollment drop

Vivian Tse · 24 Nov 2010, 15:05

Published: 24 Nov 2010 15:05 GMT+01:00

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A total of 78,100 first-time students began university studies in the autumn, 2 percent less than last year, according to a statement from the Swedish National Agency for Higher Education (Högskoleverket, HSV) on Wednesday.

"What we see is that the new Swedish entrants are fewer this autumn than in 2009. We think it is because last year was an extreme year, probably due to the very bad economy and bad labour market for young people. We see there are far fewer Swedes going to university now," Ellen Almgren of the HSV told The Local on Wednesday.

Although the number of first-time Swedish students declined to 58,700, the number of new students from other countries actually increased, meaning the number of new Swedish students fell 6 percent.

Before the autumn semester, 120,000 applicants with no previous university education applied for post-secondary schooling, a decrease of one percent from 2009. Overall, however, the number of applicants increased by 4 percent and reached the highest-ever recorded level of 374,000.

The proportion of incoming first-time university students has increased to one-quarter this year from one-fifth in 2009. The proportion of new students who are 19 years or younger increased by 1 percent to 32 percent even though there were more 19-year-olds graduating from secondary school last year.

Whether the increase in foreign students came as a result of the pending introduction of tuition fees remains to be seen, she added.

"The increase is not extremely large, but there is an increase. Of course, this is the last chance for free education. The real effect of the fees won't be visible until next year," said Almgren.

While the total number of new students fell in most major professional degree programs, they increased for general degree programmes, especially at the master's level.

The largest decline in the number of new students came in business administration and social work programmes, which both experienced a decline of 13 percent, and in law, which fell 5 percent.

Almgren pointed out that business administration is a new professional programme that was introduced in 2007 and has increased rapidly both in availability and demand since then, registering a six percent increase in enrollment at one point.

The sole exception to falling enrollment was in specialist nursing and nursing programmes, where the number of new students increased by 9 and 3 percent respectively.

Almgren explained that several universities, including the Karolinska Institute and Uppsala University, lost their rights to provide specialist nursing programmes last year, as well as some of the smaller higher education institutes. These schools subsequently regained their authority to offer these programmes this year.

Although the number of applicants for the autumn semester decreased slightly this year, the number of students applying to the most popular programs remained high. Competition for places in psychology programmes was the fiercest, with almost nine first-choice applicants per place, according to HSV.

Other popular programmes among applicants that are the toughest to get into include veterinary sciences, medicine and architecture, added Almgren.

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She warned that the number of young people in Sweden is decreasing on the whole and that the number of 19-year-olds in the country peaked last year, with the figure dropping rapidly.

"It doesn't explain why the numbers are dropping. Many people are still applying, but the stock is decreasing rapidly in the years to come, so they have to be prepared to some extent for years of decreasing numbers of new entrants," she said, adding that the schools do not know what to expect with the introduction of tuition fees for foreign students.

However, Denmark experienced a decreasing number of new entrants after introducing tuition fees for international students in 2006, Almgren pointed out.

"It is something they are probably working hard on, how to deal with the resources they have. The organisations are not very flexible. They probably have some problems ahead of them to adapt to a situation where there are fewer entrants," she said.

Vivian Tse (vivian.tse@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

17:32 November 24, 2010 by haya212
Well you can predict from now that next semester the International applications will drop sharply !
18:43 November 24, 2010 by asian123
number of international students decrease by 99 percent because of tution fee . i am sure.
19:08 November 24, 2010 by swedeb
That... or it could be people finally are getting the word that it's impossible to find housing.. no one wants to be homeless.
20:10 November 24, 2010 by bchamlagai
free education was the only thing for attracting foreign students.after introducing fee noone would come.there is nothing special here for students indeed.
20:26 November 24, 2010 by gettingbored
It is obvious that the number of international students will decrease dramatically.

There are several reasons for that:

1. High tuition fees.

2. Language barrier.

3. Accommodation problem.

Now Sweden established tuition rates that are similar to the UK or USA. English speaking students prefer to go to those countries since finding an accommodation and part-time job quite easier.

People would go to higher ranked universities for that tuition fees and probably wouldn't want to live in containers.
21:06 November 24, 2010 by TwoToTango
They introduce harsher requirements to be allowed to study at a university and enrollment drops?

Who'd a thunk it!?
21:14 November 24, 2010 by kenny8076
the fees dont even start until falls semester 2011..... its on studera and every university sight..... if your enrolled in a program before the start then your in until masters and you have to start paying.....

"gettingbored" is absolutely right...... the prices are the same here except you cannot find good housing and YOU WILL NOT be able to find employment.....why invest 4 years and hundreds of thousands of krowns on a mediocre education, guaranteed unemployment and a housing disaster?!!
22:37 November 24, 2010 by theibmsstate2000
no future for the professional in sweden.

if you study from sweden and ur higly qualified wasting of time.

if ur refugee your successful

i dont think may be 1 percent student will come .

good luck sweden
23:16 November 24, 2010 by orionorbit
I studied in Lund and found housing and employment without problem. Before I even learned Swedish. The tuition is a problem, I think there needs to be a comprehensive system to admit and subsidise talented foreigners, especially from poorer countries.
23:22 November 24, 2010 by mojofat
"...the schools do not know what to expect with the introduction of tuition fees for foreign students."

What is it they're teaching then if they cannot figure out the answer to a simple question like that? Gee, I don't know...maybe foreign student enrollment will triple and the university system will be flush with more cash than they know what to do with. Yeah, let's go with that!
02:47 November 25, 2010 by RoyceD
well, if they are smart they will realize they need to offer scholarships to a certain percentage of international students. A university without international students is a waste of time.
05:14 November 25, 2010 by hammad674
I am sure 99% international student from developing countries will not consider sweden at alll.....

There are alot of barriers as well,

Language .... you will be lucky to find a job with english only (90% failure)

Weather ---- Bad weather condition (Winter is awful- long and dark)

People ---- People are too much reserve

Job Situation ---- Worst.

Education --- No use of completed degree here (sweden) untill master in sweden.
05:33 November 25, 2010 by Noni
This situation can be overwhelmed to a very little instinct if they introduces post study work permit for the international students or give work permit like Denmark is offering at the moment.. In that way, one might think that he/she has sufficient time to search for a professional job keeping aside tension of renewing visa every year. Still, finding a job is very tough ask; but one has a peace of mind. This might help students otherwise comparatively the percentage of problems are very high.
12:25 November 25, 2010 by Andy from NYC
ENROLLMENT not ENROLMENT, Local wizards...

Where'd you guys go to school?
17:38 November 25, 2010 by haya212
why would some one pay thousands of euros a year for education in sweden while he can pay the same and get a better education and universties in the uk for exapmle !

intoducing tuition fees is such a stupid decision
01:43 December 1, 2010 by RevWolf
won't the tuition fees help the local swedish young adults get into the fields of study they want without having to fight for the spot with foriegn students?

won't this let Sweden have more natives living and working there than having them go to other countries and then not coming back?
02:42 December 5, 2010 by r.jean
- Tuition, of course

- Mediocre education at best

- Little or feeble assistance for international students

- Housing is a joke

- No work

- Swedish (sorry!) not a useful language

Cost benefit: weak. Why would I study here otherwise?
09:29 January 2, 2011 by jackx123
what's new and special. you want to study in US, Britain and a lot of other countries you pay.

Well done to introduce the fees.
22:39 May 19, 2011 by Elina Smith
That was something expected. Here this link explains some possible measures taken by Swedish govt to attract students:

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