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Swedish unis suffer drop in foreign admissions

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Swedish unis suffer drop in foreign admissions
16:57 CEST+02:00
Since the government introduced fees for non-EU students last year, many of Sweden's prominent universities have seen a significant drop in the interest from international students.

“The number of international applicants dropped by 45 percent and the admissions by 50 percent compared to last year,” Cecilia Marklund of the Uppsala university admissions office told The Local.

And Uppsala isn't alone among Swedish universities suffering a drop in admissions by foreign admissions.

Fresh figures from the Swedish Agency for Higher Education (VHS) show that the number of international admissions to Swedish universities has dropped by two thirds compared to last year.

This year 6,903 students have been admitted to the international masters programmes compared to 19,588 last year.

According to the Uppsala University international co-ordinator Kay Svensson, the drop in applicants is in direct consequence of the new fees system and the university is now working on a long-term plan for actively attracting international students to Uppsala.

“We never had to do that before because students came to us and we simply chose from the applicants we had," Svensson said.

From the 2011 autumn term, fees at Swedish universities will range from a minimum of 100,000 kronor ($16,000) per annum to around 230,000 kronor, depending on the programme and school.

The drop in applications is a concern, but Svensson is confident that it will not affect the university in the long term.

“Uppsala is ranked within the top 100 universities in the world and we believe we have what it takes to draw students from all over the globe,“ Svensson told The Local.

In the wake of the new fees, officials at Uppsala's international office, have noticed in increase in students from outside of Europe seeking to study at the university via exchange programmes, rather then through direct enrollment, as exchange students aren't subject to Sweden's new fees.

“We have definitely seen an increase in interest from places like Asia and Turkey and I wouldn't be surprised if there is a connection,” Cecilia Arefalk, Uppsala's exchange programme coordinator, told The Local.

According to Andreas Sandberg from VHS, the introduction of tuition fees may have caused fewer students to consider coming to Sweden to pursue higher education, but he pointed out that there has also been a significant drop in frivolous applications.

“Looking at the figures from 2010 and comparing these to 2011 it becomes clear that there are much fewer applications by people who lack the right qualifications following the introduction of fees,” he told The Local.

However, according to Sandberg it won't be until mid-June, after the deadline for the payment of the tuition fees has passed, that a clear picture of how many international students actually will arrive to study at Swedish institutions of higher learning.

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