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.”
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.