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STUDENT

Business group urges cut in study aid for the arts

Sweden needs to cut its student grants to students electing to study humanities and arts subjects, to encourage them to pursue degrees which can lead to a job, according to a new report from an influential business group.

Business group urges cut in study aid for the arts

The Confederation of Swedish Enterprise (Svenskt Näringsliv) on Wednesday presented a report calling for student grants to be cut for students pursuing what they describe as “low productivity educations”, argued that they should instead be obliged to finance more of their studies with loans.

“It has been shown that it is more difficult to find a job if you read subjects within the arts or humanities,” said Malin Sahlén who compiled the report for the Confederation to Sveriges Radio’s Ekot news programme on Thursday.

Sahlén suggests that an adjustment of student grants would encourage students to make a choice which is more likely to lead to employment.

She added that the Confederation would like to see sectors such as theatre pay more but argues that there are too many students and not enough jobs.

“But we don’t need twice as many studying a subject in comparison with the number in demand,” she said.

The Swedish Union for Theatre, Artists and Media (Teaterförbundet), reacted in dismay to the suggestion.

“Terrifying,” argued chairperson Anna Carlson.

“It would be very strange if the Confederation of Swedish Enterprise is under the impression that these kinds of professions are not needed in a modern humanistic democratic society,” she told SR.

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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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