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EDUCATION

Thirty percent of Swedes drop out of high school

Nearly one in three Swedish high school students fail to finish their secondary education programmes on time, new statistics reveal.

Thirty percent of Swedes drop out of high school

Figures released on Monday by the Swedish Association of Local Authorities in Regions (SALAR), show that 31 percent of students are unable to complete Swedish secondary education programmes, known as gymnasieskola or gynmasiet, within the expected three years.

In Sweden, students can choose to enroll in variety of secondary school programmes with different educational content, some of which emphasize studies to prepare students for university, while others are move vocational in nature.

Even after four years, about a quarter of students have yet to receive their high school diplomas.

In the worst performing municipality, only 43 students completed secondary school on time, while the best-performing municipality saw 88 percent of its students finish high school on time.

However, many Swedish high school drop outs do go on to complete their secondary education studies in adult education programmes, resulting in 90 percent of 24-year-olds in Sweden have attained a high school degree.

According to the study, which is based on figures from students who started high school between 2005 and 2007, about three to five percent more boys than girls fail to complete high school in Sweden.

“Every student who leaves high school without a degree is a tragic failure for the individual and a blow for the school,” SALAR’s Maria Stockhaus said in a statement.

The organziation recommends five strategies to bring down Sweden’s high school dropout rate.

Among the five “success factors” outlined by the group are ensuring that school staff engage with students in a positive manner and that the schools present clear goals and emphasize results.

In addition, schools interested seeing more of their students graduate on time should see to it that students choose programmes that suit their skills and interests, that they are involved in shaping the work of the school, and that school’s make accomodations based on students’ individual needs.

“The reasons for why people abandon their studies varies. In order to successfully implement the measures we propose, there needs to be a common view on the part of school staff as well as cooperation between schools, home, the business community, civil society, and social services,” said Stockhaus.

“With goal oriented, hard, and persistent work, municipalities and schools can prevent students from dropping out of high school.”

TT/The Local/dl

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EDUCATION

‘They feel conned’: Swedish universities fight for PHDs hit by new residency rules

Sweden's top universities are to call for doctoral students to be exempted from Sweden's tough new permanent residency rules, arguing that it will damage both academic standards and national competitiveness.

'They feel conned': Swedish universities fight for PHDs hit by new residency rules
At Lund Technical University, a majority of doctoral students are international. Photo: Kennet Ruona/LTU

In a post on Wednesday, Astrid Söderbergh Widding, the chair of Association of Swedish Higher Education Institutions, said that Sweden’s universities had agreed to submit a joint letter to the government “very soon”, calling for parliament to put in place a special exemption for PHD students to make it easier to stay in Sweden after their studies. 

The parliament, she wrote, “should introduce an exemption for doctoral students and young researchers from the requirement to be financially self-sufficient”. 

Previously, doctoral students were eligible for a permanent residence permit if they had lived in Sweden with a residence permit for doctoral studies for four out of the past seven years. Apart from a slim set of requirements, this was granted more or less automatically.

But according to Sweden’s new Migration Act, which was introduced in July this year as comprehensive legislation to control the number of asylum applications, they now need to be able to additionally show that they can support themselves financially for at least a year and half.

The new law means that the rules for permanent residency are now the same for all categories of applicants, including doctoral students.

Stefan Bengtsson, the rector at Chalmers University of Technology, said that the change would mean as many as 400 to 500 doctoral students, many of whom have built up considerable expertise, might be unable to stay in Sweden.

“This makes for an uncertain future for those from outside of Europe who have applied to come to Sweden for an academic career, which is cause for great concern and disappointment among those who came here under other circumstances,” he told The Local. “Some of them may, of course, feel like they’ve been conned

But what was even more worrying, he said, would be the impact the change to the law might have in the longer term. 

“This change to the law could contribute to giving Sweden a bad reputation. This will create difficulties in recruiting internationally and damage our long-term skills supply.”

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At Lund University, the majority of doctoral students in the science and technical faculties are from outside Europe, while Söderbergh Widding, who is also vice chancellor at Stockholm University, estimated that about half of doctoral students were international. 

Söderbergh Widding told the TT newswire that the change was “a devastating death blow”, which put to waste a “previously hard-won battle to make it possible for doctoral students to obtain a permanent residency permit after four years of studies”. 

She said in her letter that the change contradicted the research policy proposition from December 2020, which stated that the “number of foreign doctoral students who stay in Sweden should increase”, and said that giving residency to doctoral students was a good way to increase this.  

Ole Petter Ottersen, the rector of the elite Karolinska medical university, told the newswire that he thought the change in residency laws would damage Swedish competitiveness. 

“This is not good for Sweden. This will damage our ability to attract and recruit talent from other countries. For a country that lies on the periphery, the goal should be to make it easier, not harder, to recruit competence.” 

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