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FRAUD

Student loans body reports 29 for fraud

Sweden's student loans body, CSN, has reported 29 people to the police on suspicion of committing serious fraud in connection with applications for studies at a UK university.

Student loans body reports 29 for fraud

CSN has now halted payments of around 4 million kronor ($620,000), announcing in a statement that around 300,000 kronor is thought to have been paid out in error.

The authority discovered in August that a number of applications for studies at the University of East London appeared suspicious and after contact with the university has been able to conclude that 24 acceptance letters had been forged.

“We managed to detect the majority of fraudulent grants before we paid out any money. We have now ordered repayment in cases where we paid out the money incorrectly,” said Håkan Simon at CSN.

The 29 people who have now been reported to police in connection with the case are resident in Stockholm, Uppsala, Jönköping and Gothenburg.

CSN announced in May 2010 that it had expanded its search for fraudsters, after initial investigations showed that one third of students had been granted money to which they were not entitled.

In the summer the authority discovered a similar case of suspected fraud in Australia, with 60 people reported to police in an investigation which is currently ongoing.

Around 31,000 people studied overseas with the help of Swedish student grants in 2010, with a total of 2.3 billion kronor paid out to this group.

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UNIVERSITY

Swedish university exam unlikely to go ahead at all this year

It is looking increasingly unlikely that 'högskoleprovet' – an exam used by thousands of students every year as a way to enter Swedish university will go ahead – despite a government U-turn.

Swedish university exam unlikely to go ahead at all this year
In a normal year, 100,000 students sit what is known as the SweSAT or 'högskoleprovet'. Photo: Malin Hoelstad/SvD/SCANPIX

The Swedish Scholastic Aptitude Test (SweSAT, or högskoleprovet) is normally held twice a year, but was cancelled in spring and then later in autumn due to the coronavirus pandemic. But after pressure from opposition parties, the government last week said it would pave the way for the test to take place on its usual date in October in a limited format, open only to people who had not previously sat it.

Usually around 100,000 people sit the exam each year, around 40 percent of them doing so for the first time. The exam is not compulsory, but many people use its results to get into university, and it is seen as a crucial second chance for those who are not able to get accepted based on grades alone.

But any hope lit by the government's announcement last week was quickly extinguished this week, when university principals said it would still not be possible to organise a coronavirus-safe sitting. In the end it is up to the exam organisers to decide whether or not to hold it, so the government holds limited sway.

“They [the university principals] do not want to take responsibility for conducting the exam during the autumn, but would rather spend time and resources on conducting two tests as safely as possible in spring,” Karin Röding, director-general of the Swedish Council for Higher Education (UHR), told the TT news agency on Tuesday.

“I have no reason to have another opinion,” she added.

“It appears to be the case that you are going to have to wait another few months before an exam can be carried out in an infection-safe way,” confirmed Sweden's Minister of Higher Education, Matilda Ernkrans.

Meanwhile the political pressure eased on the Social Democrat-Green coalition government to ensure the test could be held before the deadline for applying to the spring semester of university, when the Liberal party joined the centre-left in voting no to pushing for an autumn sitting. Last week there was a majority for a yes vote on the Swedish parliament's education committee, consisting of right-wing parties Moderates, Christian Democrats, Sweden Democrats and the Liberals, but after the latter switched sides the committee voted no.

The Mdoerates blamed the government for not acting sooner to help the exam go ahead, by for example allocating more money and investigating the possibility of using more venues.

“There is one person who is to blame. That's Matilda Ernkrans,” said the party's education spokesperson Kristina Axén Olin. “The government has handled it really poorly and now it is thought to be too late and impossible.”

Ernkrans argued that she and the government had done everything they could, including making sure that test results from previous years will be valid for eight years rather than the usual five, as well as allocating extra funding to make it possible to hold more than one exam next spring.

Swedish vocabulary

cancel – ställa in

test/exam – (ett) prov

second chance – (en) andra chans

government – (en) regering

semester – (en) termin (note the false friend – the Swedish word semester means holiday)

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