Swedish unis suffer drop in foreign admissions

Since the government introduced fees for non-EU students last year, many of Sweden’s prominent universities have seen a significant drop in the interest from international students.

Swedish unis suffer drop in foreign admissions

“The number of international applicants dropped by 45 percent and the admissions by 50 percent compared to last year,” Cecilia Marklund of the Uppsala university admissions office told The Local.

And Uppsala isn’t alone among Swedish universities suffering a drop in admissions by foreign admissions.

Fresh figures from the Swedish Agency for Higher Education (VHS) show that the number of international admissions to Swedish universities has dropped by two thirds compared to last year.

This year 6,903 students have been admitted to the international masters programmes compared to 19,588 last year.

According to the Uppsala University international co-ordinator Kay Svensson, the drop in applicants is in direct consequence of the new fees system and the university is now working on a long-term plan for actively attracting international students to Uppsala.

“We never had to do that before because students came to us and we simply chose from the applicants we had,” Svensson said.

From the 2011 autumn term, fees at Swedish universities will range from a minimum of 100,000 kronor ($16,000) per annum to around 230,000 kronor, depending on the programme and school.

The drop in applications is a concern, but Svensson is confident that it will not affect the university in the long term.

“Uppsala is ranked within the top 100 universities in the world and we believe we have what it takes to draw students from all over the globe,“ Svensson told The Local.

In the wake of the new fees, officials at Uppsala’s international office, have noticed in increase in students from outside of Europe seeking to study at the university via exchange programmes, rather then through direct enrollment, as exchange students aren’t subject to Sweden’s new fees.

“We have definitely seen an increase in interest from places like Asia and Turkey and I wouldn’t be surprised if there is a connection,” Cecilia Arefalk, Uppsala’s exchange programme coordinator, told The Local.

According to Andreas Sandberg from VHS, the introduction of tuition fees may have caused fewer students to consider coming to Sweden to pursue higher education, but he pointed out that there has also been a significant drop in frivolous applications.

“Looking at the figures from 2010 and comparing these to 2011 it becomes clear that there are much fewer applications by people who lack the right qualifications following the introduction of fees,” he told The Local.

However, according to Sandberg it won’t be until mid-June, after the deadline for the payment of the tuition fees has passed, that a clear picture of how many international students actually will arrive to study at Swedish institutions of higher learning.

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Why a German court decision means you could be entitled to compensation from your bank

Germany’s federal high court has ruled that the Postbank is not allowed to raise fees without the explicit consent of a customer. The ruling is likely to have consequences for almost all German banks. Here’s how you can benefit from it.

Why a German court decision means you could be entitled to compensation from your bank
Postbank. credit: dpa-Zentralbild | Jens Kalaene

The federal High Court (BGH) announced on Tuesday that it was not permissible for Postbank to change its terms and conditions based on a clause which stated that the customer’s consent would be assumed unless they expressly rejected the new terms.

The BGH ruled that “clauses in a bank’s general terms and conditions are invalid that assume the customer’s consent to changes in the general terms and conditions.”

The national consumer rights organization (VZBZ) had taken the bank to court because of the clause.

Postbank is far from the only bank to have such a clause, according to Der Spiegel. Most German banks have either exactly the same clause or one that has the same effect.

The clauses have been used by banks to increase account fees without expressly gaining the consent of the customer.

The ruling, coming from the country’s highest court, will have a wider impact than simply on this specific case.

According to the website customers can now reclaim all bank fees that have been introduced without the express consent of the customer since the start of 2018.

In other words, if you opened a bank account without having to pay fees for it and the bank subsequently started charging fees, you are likely to be entitled to compensation. The only circumstances under which you are not entitled to such compensation are when you signed a document giving your express consent to the new fees.

Finanztip has created a model letter (in German) that you can use to claim the wrongly charged expenses from your bank. They also say that you are entitled to charge interest on the fees.

According to Der Spiegel, two things are likely to happen when you request repayment from the bank.

Either the bank will say that it was surprised by the decision but will immediately consent to the repayment. It will then inform you of new fees to be paid on your account and ask you to sign a consent form, stating that your account will be cancelled if you do not do so.

You can either sign the form or look for a cheaper account elsewhere.

It is also possible that the bank will claim that the ruling does not cover the specific fees that were charged on your bank account.

In this case you can contact the bank ombudsman and request that they pursue the case for you. There are no costs involved in recruiting the services of the ombudsman.

SEE ALSO: How post-Brexit bank changes could affect British people in Germany