Ukrainian refugees allowed to study Swedish to upper secondary level

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Ukrainian refugees allowed to study Swedish to upper secondary level
Ukrainian refugee Alexander Bashyn and Marcus Ahlqvist outside a meeting place for Ukrainians in Hässleholm. Photo: Johan Nilsson/TT

Ukrainian refugees living in Sweden have been given the green light to study Swedish at Komvux, Sweden's network of municipal adult education colleges, meaning they will be able to get upper-secondary level qualifications.


Sweden's labour and integration minister, Johan Pehrson, said in a statement that allowing Ukrainians to study at a higher level would allow them to look for jobs in schools and healthcare.

"Because the way has become a long-lasting one, people who have moved here from Ukraine need to be able to come into the Swedish labour market," he said. "In many professions, particularly in elderly care and healthcare, and also in schools, a high level of Swedish is required to be able to get a job. That is why the government now wants to open up Komvux to Ukrainains, so they can continue to study Swedish when they have finished SFI." 

Under Sweden's school law, Ukrainian adults who came to the country under the the EU's Temporary Protection Directive do not have the right to study Swedish at elementary school and upper secondary school level at adult education colleges, meaning that they lose their entitlement to free classes once they have completed the free Swedish for Immigrant (SFI) classes. 

The government in its spring budget in March provided 100m kronor to municipalities so that they could offer SFI classes to Ukrainians. 

But SFI's highest level course, course D, only takes learners to an upper intermediate level, or Level B1+ in the EU's CEFR ranking. To get a job as a teacher or teaching assistant at a school in Sweden, for example requires passing a national exam after completing the Swedish as a Second Language course at upper secondary school level. 


While the change in the guidelines allows municipalities to offer upper secondary courses to Ukrainians, it does not require them to do so, leaving up the decision of each municipality whether to offer Ukrainians tuition. 

"Even if the decision does not mean that municipalities have a duty to offer Swedish education, our hope is that many municipalities will choose to offer this target group the opportunity to continue their studies," said Sweden's education minister, Mats Persson in the statement. 




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