Ericsson frets over lack of foreign students

The shrinking number of foreign university students in Sweden has left tech companies like telecom giant Ericsson worried about a shortage of potential employees.

Ericsson frets over lack of foreign students
A file image of an engineering student in Sweden

“We’re dependent on these talents, just as many other companies are,” Tomas Qvist, recruitment head at Ericsson, told Sveriges Radio (SR).

“We’re seeing that the supply of people studying at technical universities is dropping, we can only look on with concern that we won’t be able to find the right talent to further our engineering expertise.”

Since 2011, the year fees were introduced at Swedish universities for students from outside of EU, foreign student enrollment has dropped 80 percent.

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Magnus Henrekson, the head of the Research Institute of Industrial Economics (Institutet för näringslivsforskning), explained that Sweden’s move to charge foreign students made sense, yet that foreign students had been a valuable addition to Sweden’s work force in the past.

“It’s a dilemma that we don’t really know how to solve,” he told SR.

He said that the old system had been beneficial for international companies such as Swedish telecom giant Ericsson.

“For a number of years now we’ve had students from India and Russia. They have been talented, truly driven, and have really wanted to stay here due to the better possibilities than if they returned home,” he said.

Qvist at Ericsson, meanwhile, confessed that the company was open to the idea of providing scholarship funding for promising students from abroad.

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