When Markus Walz graduated with a bachelor’s degree in philosophy and economics from the University of Bayreuth in Germanym he was keen to take a master’s in another country. After looking at options in a few countries, he opted for a course in consumer and business marketing at Stockholm University.
“I liked the theoretical research-oriented approach. I liked the fact that it was really academic,” he says.
Walz was also attracted by the city of Stockholm itself, which he had visited while on an Erasmus exchange in Helsinki.
Many students see postgraduate degrees in management or business as a way to make themselves attractive to the best employers and boost their earning potential. Stockholm University School of Business is attracting students from around the world with its English-language master’s courses.
Around 40 percent of students in master’s programmes at the school are from outside Sweden.
International students can choose from five business master’s courses at the school: accounting, auditing and analysis, banking and finance, consumer and business marketing, management studies and strategic IT management.
Walz is one of many international students at the School of Business. Indeed, the school was the second most applied-for institution in Sweden among overseas students this year – the first year in which overseas students in Sweden will pay tuition fees.
Overall, of the ten most applied for master’s courses in Sweden last year, three were at the school.
“These are encouraging numbers and they confirm that we need not compete on price. We will continue to offer master programmes with a genuine mix of international students,” says Professor Thomas Hartman, dean of the School of Business.
Stockholm University was a popular choice in other disciplines too.
Hundreds of international applications were received for courses such as international commercial arbitration law, globalisation, environment and social change, IT project management and the international master’s programme in political science.
Overall, 5,377 overseas applicants applied to study a master’s course at Stockholm, making it the second-most popular university in the country among foreign students.
Dr. Björn Hagströmer, who lectures in financing at the school, praises the calibre of students on the business-related master’s at Stockholm University. Hägströmer, who completed his PhD at Aston University in the UK, says Swedish universities have several advantages at the Master’s level.
“The students here are at various different stages in life. Many people on the courses have already worked full-time for several years. In the UK, for instance, people often go straight from school to do an undergraduate degree and then on to a master’s.”
The result of this is mature relationships between students and teachers.
“It’s a bit more grown-up and based on mutual respect,” he says.
Walz says he appreciates the non-hierarchical Swedish approach.
“In the German system, the average professor has an old-school attitude: he stands at the front of the class and says, ‘This is the truth – swallow it.’ Here, there is a more discussion-based approach. Everyone’s on first-name terms too, which makes it easier to establish an academic relationship with the professors,” he observes.
Students are also helped by the university’s excellent reputation with employers. The career service at the university operates workshops for Master’s students on Swedish companies and the Swedish labour market. The School of Business has partnerships with companies including KPMG, Nordea, Phillips and Nordic Equities.
“Quite a few international students have stayed on in Sweden after studying, either to work or to do a PhD,” says Hagströmer.
Naturally, students coming from abroad are also selecting a place to live, as well as a place to study. On that note, Stockholm scores highly. Of course, students can access all the entertainment opportunities you would expect from one of Europe’s most glamorous and beautiful capital cities, but international students organize a plethora of activities for themselves through the Graduate Student Council.
“We organize movie nights, dinners, pub crawls and other social events and are supported by the university authorities,” says Walz.
The Graduate Student Council also helps with the more practical side of student life, organising everything from library tours to help with accommodation.