Some degrees less ‘profitable’: study

For a teacher, a librarian or a dental hygienist an academic degree may turn out be less profitable than having started working straight out of school, according to a new trade union study.

Some degrees less 'profitable': study

The survey, carried out by The Swedish Confederation of Professional Associations (Sveriges akademikers centralorganisation –SACO), compared the accumulated life earnings of people with an academic degree in a number of professions to that of some who start working straight out of school.

“We have looked at salaries but also at the length of study for certain disciplines, student support money and unemployment within the different groups,” said Thomas Ljunglöf of Saco to Sveriges Television (SVT).

The survey showed that in twelve out of the 36 university programmes reviewed by SACO, it had been more financially profitable for students in certain disciplines to start working immediately after high school instead of investing time and money into an academic degree.

Among the affected are teachers, dental hygienists, librarians, and people with degrees in art and biology.

“Among the less profitable groups are to a large extent those that have degrees in subjects leading to female-dominated jobs, for example within the county administration. These generally have lower salaries,” Ljunglöf told SVT.

The survey showed that to make higher education worth the money, students should have chosen to study for a degree in civil engineering, economy, law or medicine

To make as much money as those who started working straight out of high school, those with less profitable degrees would have to stay in employment until 66-70 years of age.

Despite these figures Ljunglöf thinks that when choosing their future profession, students ought to consider their own interests first and profitability second.

“If you put a lot of effort into something you are not interested in, you will probably not be very successful anyway, “ he told daily Dagens Nyheter.

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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)