Swedish Universities suspend exchange and research programs with Russia

Eight of Sweden's leading universities have broken off all their exchange programs with Russian and Belarusian universities, a survey by SVT has found.

The old water tower at the Institute of Astronomy at Lund University.
The old water tower at the Institute of Astronomy at Lund University. Photo: Mikael Risedal/Lund University

The decisions have come after Education Minister Anna Ekström on March 2nd called for higher education institutes to break off contact and collaborations with state-run institutions in Russia and Belarus. 

Since then the Uppsala, Stockholm, Umeå, Linnaeus, Linköping and Jonköping universities have all cancelled their exchange programs with state-run institutions in Russia and Belarus, as has the Stockholm School of Economics.

“This is a consequence of the government’s request. All agreements are being put on ice,” Karin Apelgren, head of the Student Affairs and Academic Registry at Uppsala University, told SVT

Students already studying in Sweden under the programs will, however, be allowed to continue their exchange. 

“It’s not  bara är den ryska eliten som påverkas, det är unga människor som vill studera och bygga sina liv. Vi har inte valt att bli ryssar, vi bara föddes där.

“It’s not just the Russian elite who are being affected, but young people who want to study and make a life for themselves,” Lisa Khaidarova, a Russian who has been studying at Uppsala University since 2018, told Sweden’s state broadcaster SVT.

“It’s sad. We never chose to be Russian, we were just born there. I have so many friends who would have loved to come here, but now it will be impossible.” 

READ ALSO: How has Sweden responded to Putin’s war in Ukraine so far?

Stefan Ingvarsson, an analyst at the Swedish Institute of International Affairs warned that isolating Russian academic institutions could strengthen rather than weaken the regime around President Vladimir Putin. 

“I understand that this is a problematic situation, but at the same time it’s ridiculous to stop people coming to Sweden. This is exactly the sort of exchange which we need to change Russia,” he said. “I’m afraid that the West is currently contributing to the isolation which certain powers in Russia have only dreamt of, and that we ourselves have pledged to counteract.” 

As well as stopping exchange programs, several universities have also frozen collaborations with Russian universities.

Lund University, for instance, recently suspended one of its Arctic climate research projects because of the project’s high Russian involvement. 

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.


Russia expels Swedish diplomats in retaliation for ‘hostile actions’

Moscow on Tuesday said it was expelling three Swedish diplomats after Stockholm expelled three Russian diplomats over the conflict in Ukraine, despite Sweden saying four were dismissed.

Russia expels Swedish diplomats in retaliation for 'hostile actions'

Russia’s foreign ministry said in a statement it summoned the Swedish ambassador to Russia and “strongly protested” the expulsion of Russian diplomats and Sweden’s “military support to the Kyiv regime”.

It also accused Sweden of “covering up the crimes of Ukrainian nationalists against the civilian population of Donbas and Ukraine,” referring to a region in eastern Ukraine, parts of which are controlled by pro-Russia separatists.

“In response to this, the Russian side decided to declare persona non grata three diplomats of the Swedish embassy in Russia,” the ministry said.

In early April, Sweden said it was expelling three Russian diplomats who conducted “illegal operations”, following similar moves by other EU allies.

Sweden’s Foreign Minister Ann Linde said the action was “very regrettable,” but said that a total of four diplomats had been expelled — three from the embassy in Moscow and another at the Swedish consulate in Saint Petersburg.

In a written response to AFP, Linde stressed that Sweden expelled the Russians because they had conducted operations that “violated the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations,” but claimed the Swedish diplomats had conducted “traditional diplomatic activities.”

“Sweden will respond in an appropriate manner to Russia’s unwarranted and disproportionate actions,” Linde said.