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Foreign students eschew studies in Sweden

Top foreign students are eschewing the opportunity to study at Swedish universities and colleges, deterred by the introduction of tuition and registration fees, as well as the lack of scholarships.

Foreign students eschew studies in Sweden

Previously, foreign students from countries outside Europe studied for free in Sweden, but starting in the autumn, they must pay a minimum of 100,000 kronor ($15,625) in fees every year, according to newspaper Dagens Nyheters (DN).

The number of applications from outside the EU, Nordic countries and Switzerland fell from 132,000 last year to 31,400 this year, of which only 5,662 of them have paid the registration fee of 900 kronor, according to the Swedish Agency for Higher Education Services (Verket för högskoleservice, VHS).

Of the 132,000 non-European students who applied last year, about 20,000 were admitted to master’s and international courses.

Sweden introduced application fees because the administration of hundreds of thousands of applicants cost universities and government agencies both time and money since many applicants did not fully complete the applications, according to DN.

“We wanted to first reach those who are seriously interested in studying in Sweden,” Tuula Kuosmanen, section head at VHS, told DN on Thursday.

For universities, the reduction represents a major setback in their finances and many may be forced to curtail their course offerings, according to DN.

Lund University has the most applicants and slightly more than 2,100 non-European applicants have already paid the application fee, the newspaper wrote.

However, university vice president Eva Åkesson stressed that the universities will not find out how many candidates will actually accept their places until after June 15th, the report said.

Fees at Lund will cost 90,000 to 230,000 kronor per academic year.

“Already, the unnecessarily high registration fee may have deterred many gifted students. In other countries, it costs between 300 to 500 kronor,” Åkesson told DN.

Lund has started its own scholarship fund and has received a couple of million kronor from external funding. Along with the 2.3 million kronor the university has received from the government, it estimates that it can provide scholarships to 40 to 60 students this coming school year, DN reported.

It is unclear whether applicants who have paid the application fee will receive residence permits and whether they have the necessary financial means to provide for themselves in Sweden. Many are likely dependent on grants for paying the high tuition fees.

“We hope to have 400 students start in the autumn fall in Lund, we will have to see if it is a high and ambitious goal,” said Åkesson.

In addition to the 40 to 80 scholarships, the largest universities expect to distribute about 500 scholarships as allocated by the Swedish Institute, the report said.

Åkesson believes there is a need for a more well developed grant system so Sweden does not lose more talented students, according to DN.

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Swedish unis in foreign student scholarship plea

With foreign student enrollment down after the introduction of tuition fees, Swedish universities are urging the government to provide more scholarships to help attract non-European students to Sweden.

Swedish unis in foreign student scholarship plea

Enrollment of non-European students in Swedish universities declined drastically following the introduction of tuition fees last year, with engineering students from Asia being among those most affected by the change.

Despite a slight upswing in the number of non-EU students last year there are still far fewer today than in 2010, before the introduction of tuition fees.

Among masters students – the biggest group of non-EU students in Sweden – the drop has been dramatic. Around 4,300 are expected to enroll in Swedish universities this fall, compared to 17,000 two years ago, reports Sveriges Radio (SR).

At the Royal Institute of Technology (KTH) in Stockholm, the number of new non-EU students enrolled at the school dropped from 1,000 to 300, a trend that concerns Professor Eva Malmström Jonsson

“If it becomes to European, [students] won’t get the preparation they need to be active in the global labour market,” she told SR.

The reduction in students from countries outside of Europe has prompted some universities to appeal to the government to provide more funding for scholarships that can help people cover costly tuition fees.

“If we are to compete over the best students we need to have a good scholarship programme. Other countries do,” Maissa Al-Adhami of the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm told Sveriges Radio (SR).

In May this year, an analysis of Swedish university admissions statistics by the Swedish National Agency for Higher Education (Högskoleverket) found that the total number of new foreign student enrollments dropped by a third between 2010 and 2011.

Much of the decline, however, consisted of “freemovers” – students who choose to come to Sweden on their own accord, rather than as part of an organized exchange programme – from non-European countries.

“Nearly the entire drop can be attributed to fewer freemovers choosing to study in Sweden,” the agency’s Torbjörn Lindqvist told The Local at the time.

With tuition fees averaging 120,000 kronor ($18,000) there is also a concern that Swedish universities will attract the wealthiest, rather than the most talented, overseas students.

Richard Stenelo, head of external relations at Lund University, has noticed a drop in applicants from countries in Africa and Latin America since the introduction of tuition fees.

“It’s because we do not have enough scholarship funds and they cannot afford to study in Sweden,” Stenelo told SR.

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