Foreign students turn their backs on Sweden

Foreign students turn their backs on Sweden
The number of overseas students enrolled on international Masters degree programmes in Sweden has declined by 58 percent, since the government introduced fees for non-EU students last year, a new report shows.

For other international courses the number of enrollments has fallen by 64 percent, according to the statistics published by the Agency for Higher Education Services (Verket för högskoleservice – VHS) on Thursday.

A total of 8,075 people have been offered places on international Masters degree programmes at Swedish universities ahead of the autumn term 2011, while a further 1,944 have been accepted to other international courses.

“It is difficult to see what this means as we don’t yet know how many will pay in their fees and sign up to the courses,” Andreas Sandberg at VHS told The Local on Friday.

“What we can say is that the number of applications has declined – by 73 and 86 percent respectively – and the number of those offered places has declined,” he said.

Sandberg explained that one of the purposes of introducing the fees was to cut the number of frivolous applications.

“That the proportion of those accepted to places indicates that the purpose has been achieved,” he said, adding that it was too early to draw any conclusions on whether this meant a higher standard of student was applying.

“We have to wait on the statistics of those who have actually paid their fees and signed up,” he said.

The effect of the introduction of the fees on applications from non-EU and EES students was expected, VHS said, citing the experience from Denmark and the Netherlands after having taken a similar step.

Fees at Swedish universities will from the autumn 2011 range from a minimum of 100,000 kronor ($16,000) per annum to around 230,000 at top seats of learning such as Lund University.

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