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EDUCATION

Studying in Sweden? Sign up for half price student Membership with The Local

Are you one of the more than 20,000 international students in Sweden? You can now benefit from a 50 percent student discount on Membership of The Local – our editor Emma Löfgren explains more.

Studying in Sweden? Sign up for half price student Membership with The Local
The Local has written several articles for international students. Photo: Tor Johnsson/SvD/TT

Being an international student is a life-changing experience. I first moved abroad to go to university when I was 20 and it was as daunting as it was exhilarating. The ups were higher and the downs much lower.

It is easy to feel overwhelmed by the language barrier, bureaucracy or simply not having a clue where to start. Many of you are seasoned travellers; others are abroad for the first time. That's why The Local has written stories exclusively for foreign students moving to Sweden to give you a helping hand.

For example, we have looked at the make-up of the Stockholm student population, written articles about how it takes time to get used to calling your professor by their first name, explored Sweden's (officially) best city for students, and guided you to how to stay calm and find student housing.

In 2017 we launched a Membership scheme for the first time in our history, giving all Members unlimited access to all stories and all editions of The Local as well as exclusive access to more in-depth Members-only articles, networking opportunities and much more.

If you are a student you can take advantage of 50 percent off Membership of The Local.

SIGN UP HERE to get 50% off Membership of The Local

We also produce many other kinds of articles that will be useful to you during your stay, for example how to plan for that bucket list train journey across Sweden, what rights you have as a second-hand renter, and how you can use the summer to break into the Swedish job market.

We would love to hear your thoughts, so if there is a certain aspect of student life in Sweden you would like us to cover, please don't hesitate to e-mail us.

Kind regards,

Emma Löfgren
[email protected]
Editor, The Local Sweden

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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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