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Laggard Swedish grads costly to economy: report

The Local/vt · 3 Dec 2010, 12:44

Published: 03 Dec 2010 12:44 GMT+01:00

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Lowering the average graduation age in Sweden could save students and society 250,000 kronor ($36,200) per student, newspaper Dagens Industri (DI) reported on Friday, citing a long-term government study.

"The high graduation age is a problem if it leads to decreased employment or to a reduction in productivity among the employed. The latter may be the case if students work before or during their studies, but are less productive than after completing their studies," the report said.

Currently, the average Swede graduates from post-secondary education at 29, second only to Iceland among OECD countries, the report said.

In Germany and Norway, the average graduate completed his or her studies two years ahead of Swedes and in the Netherlands, about four years faster, according to a long-term government study.

The reason behind the relatively late Swedish graduation rate is not that Swedes take a long time to complete their studies, but because they start late, with the median age of enrollment at over 22, the report said.

Of the 250,000 kronor that could be saved by lowering the average graduation age by a year, 80,000 kronor would go back to the student and about 160,000 kronor to society at large.

"The reason for this is that those who graduate later on average receive more transfer payments and a progressive tax system means that part of the income gains from an early graduate goes to society in terms of tax revenue," DI reported on Friday.

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The government recommends intensified counseling in high school and extra points in the admission process for those who choose to quickly continue into higher education.

Another proposal suggests granting universities and colleges more funding for students who graduate on time, the report said.

The Local/vt (news@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

13:12 December 3, 2010 by Baldric
Heh. It took nine years from ending the uni to getting my graduation, because of one exam that I failed over and over again.

It was in a subject (programming) very unrelated to my line of career (structural mechanics) but for some reason it was considered vital to the education and therefore blocked my recieving a graduation.

In the end I read the rules and learned that I could get a graduation without it, if only with a slightly different definition. And I've been doing this line of work now for 15 years and am doing fine.
16:58 December 3, 2010 by AmericanSwede16
Well Duh. Sweden keeps paying students and giving them 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, + chances to finish their classes.

They take their time and don't put effort into the classes because they know if they fail, then they can keep trying.

If a student fails, then he should be given a 2nd chance. Then the student should be thrown back into the pool to try to get into the class just like everyone else.
18:07 December 3, 2010 by dw
What planet do you live on? Have you ever attended a US university? There, students can and do take courses 5, 6, 7 times as well. Especially at community colleges. Also, it takes the average American 6 years to graduate with their Bachelors. Again, sounds a little like Sweden to me.
18:58 December 3, 2010 by haya212
that doesnt sound like a problem to me although maybe the thats because the swedish governmnet keeps on paying the studnets so they wont worry
21:34 December 3, 2010 by villjobba
I dont even think its because Swedish students are slow. Many just like taking these gap years, flying off to Thailand, Brazil, Kenya, India, etc which are warmer areas to get away from the wicked winter in Sweden with the result that half of the school year is wasted. Others start with the wrong choices of study only to discover yrs down the road that they need to change course if they hope to get employment later on, which means starting back all over.
01:14 December 4, 2010 by waffen
Students who graduate at 29 are much more mature than those who leave University at age of 22 and 23, as they frequently do in America.

Swedish employers are getting a bargain with mature students who function quite well without all of the air inside of their heads.
06:58 December 4, 2010 by UScitizen
I agree with the maturity part. Lord knows I wasn't too mature at 23. I often wonder about myself now, at 60. Anyway, a simple solution would be to cut the money off after age 25. Let everyone pay their own way after that if they hadn't finished. Simple.
08:32 December 4, 2010 by PonceDeLeon
Let students pay for their own education. They can apply for State money with little or no interest, if they qualify based upon grade points. "The womb to the tomb" existence, sooner or later, will have to end. Students can then spend their "own" money for as long as they wish.
09:01 December 4, 2010 by dw
Swedish students do pay for their own educations through taxes. It is just the freeloading foreigners who are not working who get a free education.
11:21 December 4, 2010 by mikewhite
Would it not be more cost-effective if they had to do assessment and some form of counselling if they did not pass the first time - this would be designed to assist them discover how they should succeed and how to improve their study and work habits, and to evaluate what went wrong.

It might also let them drop out gracefully if after this reflection they decided the course was not for them.
15:22 December 4, 2010 by Marc the Texan
I'd hire an older graduate that was newly minted over a younger one. 22 year-olds are green. Degree or or not.
15:58 December 4, 2010 by EtoileBrilliant
"In Germany and Norway, the average graduate completed his or her studies two years ahead of Swedes" - that says it all. German graduates are well known for being silver haired.

On a side note, the Swedish government has always tolerated this behaviour as it keeps the unemployment rate artificially low. If they are studying, they're not looking for a job.
16:26 December 4, 2010 by roaringchicken92
Most of the money spent per student in Sweden pays the school administrators, staff, and teachers; lowering the graduation age would cut off a good amount of this income. You would then likely get a demand from administrators and teachers for higher pay to compensate for reduced enrollments, and this money would come from the increased tax revenue supposedly going to the "society at large".

The net effect is only to force unprepared students into the Swedish workforce. A better idea would be to examine what factors allow German and Norwegian students to graduate earlier: is it the quality of the teachers or the relevancy of what is being taught? a stronger desire to enter the workforce? It would be good to find out.
19:20 December 5, 2010 by steve_38
Too many students studying degrees that will never ever g´land them a decent job. As an employer I struggle to find students with proper degrees Mining, Chemical, Mechanical or Electronic engineering. I can get a million with technology management, media, dance or some other worhtless subject. With mining engineers we are losing out to Australia where they pay £45k for recently graduated students.

Another thing to consider why does it cost so much for University education when for the above mentioned light weight easy degrees when they actually only do about 7 to 9 hours per week at UNI anyway.

I would recommend doing a UK Open University degree it costs about £3k for the full degree you can do it while you work and as such it is as good as the full time courses.
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