Since the announcement that there will be no new SI Study Scholarships next year, several NFGL students have expressed concern for the future of their programmes.
We spoke to Monika Wirkkala, head of the Talent Mobility Unit at the Swedish Institute, to clear things up.
SI News: Hi Monika. Which programmes exactly will be cut, and when do these changes go into effect?
Monika Wirkkala:The changes apply only to the Swedish Institute Study Scholarships, except for those for Syria and South Africa, and no others.
MW:No, just the SI Study Scholarships, which will not be offered in 2015.
SI News: Why have these changes been made?
MW:The Swedish Institute lacks budget for new SI Study Scholarships in 2015. Our funds come from government offices, and the government has had to prioritize other things this coming year. They have had to redistribute the state budget a bit. It’s not SI’s decision, but the government’s.
SI News: How will these changes affect current students?
MW:We have enough money for those who already have received scholarships, so current NFGL students do not need to be worried. They will be able to complete their studies, whether they just arrived or they are in their second year of studies. They will not be affected. We just won’t be able to give out new SI Study Scholarships next year.
SI News: Is the SI Study Scholarship gone for good, or will it be back?
MW: We are counting on having the same budget as usual, which means we will be able to offer the scholarship again in 2016. We will just not have as many.
SI News: So there will be enough money for the scholarship in 2016?
MW:Yes, although we might have to give out fewer scholarships – for instance 300 SI Study Scholarships, instead of 600 like we did last time. We don’t have exact numbers yet.
SI News: Was this a decision by the new government?
MW: It is not because of the new government, no. Both the old and the new government had come to the conclusion that the budget had to be changed.
SI News:Many students are concerned about the budget change and lack of scholarships. Is there anything students can do to prevent future programmes being cut?
MW:Well, these changes do not affect current students. But we understand that it may affect their countrymen and that current students want to make a difference.
The first thing one can do is try to increase media interest in the issue, so people are aware of it. You can also write to politicians. Those are the options which we have in Sweden to influence the decisions of politicians.
SI News:Thank you for the clarification Monika!
In summary: Don’t panic. Feel free to contact media about the problem, or perhaps write to Foreign Aid Minister Isabella Lövin. But remember that your scholarships are not at risk.