Foreign degree holders face language hurdle

The Local Sweden
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Foreign degree holders face language hurdle
Should more universities have language classes? Photo: Simon Paulin/

Many university educated immigrants struggle to get their foreign degrees validated in Sweden because of limited language skills.


As The Local has previously reported, record numbers of skilled doctors, engineers and teachers are among the tens of thousands of migrants who have moved to Sweden in the past year.

Foreign diplomas need to be validated by the Swedish Council for Higher Education (Universitets- och högskolerådet) before holders continue their studies or look for work in their chosen field. But many are unable to further their education because their Swedish or English is not good enough.

“That's the key. Without Swedish or English it is very difficult for you in Sweden,” Jesper Andersson of the department for computer science at Linné University told Swedish radio's news show Ekot.

Swedish radio reports that out of some 30 people who applied to get their degree validated at the department earlier this year, only a handful were accepted to their chosen university course.

“Our course literature is in English, so even if you're taking the course in Swedish, there are English language requirements,” said Andersson.

He says the main obstacle is the language skills and not the applicants' expertise in the subject area. Therefore the university now plans to start specialized language classes as part of the validation process from next spring onwards. Gothenburg University is also introducing similar measures.

“That's what the group itself is asking for, to get quicker training in Swedish and English,” said university prorector Helena Lindholm, who is also a member of the Swedish Council for Higher Education's working group on refugee issues.


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