Currently refugees are only allowed to study once they have received residence permits, but the Swedish Higher Education Authority wants to make it possible at an earlier stage.
Writing in Dagens Nyheter, the head of the authority Harriet Wallberg, argues that greater coordination is needed to help refugees progress with their studies.
“A refugee who is keen to study might wait several years to get a resident’s permit. That wasted time could instead be spent at university – an excellent environment in which they can strengthen their self confidence, learn the language, form contacts and gain knowledge that will make them attractive on the job market, regardless of which country they will live in in the future,” Wallberg wrote together with colleague Annika Pontén.
Wallberg and Pontén criticise Sweden’s new refugee law, which dictates that refugees will only get temporary residency, and their right to stay longer than a year will depend on them having found work. They argue that higher education should be considered equal to paid employment.
The pair stress that the reforms they suggest would benefit society as a whole:
“Sweden should remain a knowledge-based nation in the future, and refugees can contribute to this. Sweden is a small country that is completely dependent on education and research to compete in a global world,” they write.