Swedish government moves to implement three-year deadline for SFI

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Swedish government moves to implement three-year deadline for SFI
Employment and Integration Minister Johan Pehrson. Photo: Christine Olsson/TT

New students of Swedish for Immigrants (SFI) courses would have three years to complete the programme under a new draft proposal by Sweden’s government.


The time limit is partly due to the fact that the number of students who complete the SFI programme is low, the government wrote in a press statement. The new time limit would last for three years from the date at which a student is accepted onto a course.

There would be exceptions, with students who have “special reasons” able to apply for extensions of six months at a time, up to a maximum of three years, giving them a maximum six years to complete the course.

“Basic knowledge of the Swedish language is crucial for people who have come to Sweden from elsewhere to enter the labour market,” Employment and Integration Minister Johan Pehrson said.

“Repeated interruptions and restarts in SFI over a period of many years leads to a lack of continuity in learning, which contributes to students not achieving results and losing motivation and self esteem.”

Imposing a time limit would also provide students, teachers and principals with better structure and plans for SFI study, he argued.

Students would also no longer have to study SFI in the same municipality they live in, meaning that, for example, people who work in one municipality and live in another would more easily be able to fit studies into their daily routine.

SFI classes have received criticism in recent years for a poor standard of teaching, lack of resources and a failure to fully cater to people with different educational backgrounds.


Students would be given a personal study plan based on their skills at the start of the course.

“Students in SFI have different backgrounds, needs and situations,” Education Minister Mats Persson said. “Some have a lengthy school background and good knowledge of the subject, while others have no previous schooling at all. There must be an early assessment of knowledge so that the student can begin their studies at an appropriate level and become more quickly established in society,” he added.

Under the new proposal, which, if passed, has a suggested implementation date of January 1st, 2025, municipalities would also have a greater responsibility for contacting students who have the right to SFI classes and motivating them to take part in the course. Municipalities would need to produce a plan to show what measures they are taking to achieve this with regular follow-ups to ensure it is effective.

There would be a transition period for people who are already accepted onto an SFI course before the proposed law comes into effect at the start of 2025 which would give them a deadline of December 31st, 2027 to complete the course.


Although this specific proposal is the result of a collaboration between the Liberals, Moderates, Christian Democrats and Sweden Democrats, it was originally put forward by the previous centre-left government in 2020. 

The proposal will now be sent to the Council on Legislation to ensure it's in line with the Swedish constitution.


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Eneimi 2024/03/06 14:30
Had quite the opposite experience compared with @James. SFI for me was well structured, and the teachers seemed very engaged. There was certainly some repetition, but only enough to reinforce learning, and it was well appreciated especially if I happened to miss a lesson. I didn't encounter a situation where I was unable to progress to the next class. It would have been an uphill task for me personally if i relied solely on language apps. The 3 year limit sounds reasonable, as does the option to extend should it become necessary. But it will be good to evaluate the current SFI offerings to ensure they have what it takes to adequately deliver to students within that timeframe.
James 2024/03/04 18:12
Personally I thought SFI was awful. Really poorly done and nothing but a waste of time. I was stuck learning the Swedish basics (hellos, counting etc) on a monthly loop, going over the same lessons each time. Couldn’t move up to the next class because that was full. No structure at all. Doing far better with an app I found.

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