The new rules have been criticized for penalising foreign and older applicants, said Higher Education and Research Minister Tobias Krantz.
“The core of the reform remains the same,” Krantz told Sveriges Radio’s Ekot news bulletin. “What we are doing now is opening up to discuss how it should look like on the fringe of reform.”
He added, “We get to be honest and say that we could not foresee all of the consequences. We will appoint a new commission to go through this properly.”
Critics allege that applicants with foreign qualifications are placed in their own selection group. Places are allocated to a percentage of applicants in each group, resulting in a small risk of the foreign group not securing any spots in higher education.
This may violate EU law and the Nordic agreement, which ensures treating all candidates equally.
Criticism is also directed towards the new admission qualification points system, which “rewards” those who take more math and language courses in senior secondary school, which applies to younger candidates.
Applicants who have qualifications the previous senior secondary school system in Sweden, or those born in 1983 and earlier, cannot earn more points this way.
“We are of course open to discuss the time limits,” Krantz told news agency TT.
He defended the points system, saying the purpose is to encourage more high school students to pursue advanced math and language courses, emphasising their importance. However, how the points can be combined with equal treatment of all applicants remains to be seen.
The National Agency for Higher Education (Högskoleverket) pointed out that it would require an enormous effort to compare the levels of senior secondary school mathematics across different countries.
The Social Democrats have pledged to drop the new admission criteria if they are elected in the autumn election.