Foreign student numbers plummet in Sweden

Fewer than 1,300 non-European students have paid the new tuition fees required for them to study at Swedish universities, according to higher education officials. In the 2009-10 academic year, there were more than 16,000 non-European university students in Sweden.

Foreign student numbers plummet in Sweden

“It looks like the drop in students from outside the EU may be quite steep. It is now up to all good forces in the country to come up with a good scholarship programme that could make Sweden an attractive place for higher education again,” said head of the agency Lars Haikola in a statement on Tuesday.

The deadline to pay the fees lapsed on June 15th. According to the Swedish National Agency for Higher Education (Högskoleverket), only 1,280 students had paid their fees by then.

Previously free, 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, from the 2011 autumn term.

Since the decision to introduce fees was taken, experts have warned that Swedish universities will see a significant drop in interest from abroad.

And already in May, figures from the Swedish Agency for Higher Education (VHS) showed that the number of international admissions to Swedish universities had dropped by two thirds compared to last year.

Fresh figures from the Swedish Migration Board (Migrationsverket) also show that 6,277 people applied for a student visa in Sweden during the first 6 months of 2010.

So far this year the number of applicants has only reached 3,747.

In the 2009-10 academic year, more than 16,000 non-European university students studied in Sweden. Although the figures aren’t strictly comparable, as the larger number comprises all places of higher education in Sweden and both the autumn and spring term, they point to a significant drop, according to the agency.

According to Torbjörn Lindqvist, analyst at the National Agency for Higher Education, it has been hard to foresee what impact the new tuition fees would have on applicants, despite the warnings.

“I think that it was expected that there would be a drop, we had seen that from other countries introducing similar schemes, but how large it would be no one could say in advance,” he told The Local.

What practical effects this will have on Swedish universities, and just how large the actual drop in foreign students will be, still remains to be seen.

“Many universities will find themselves with less students than they had expected and some might have a problem filling their courses,” said Lindqvist.

The government has initiated two scholarship programmes that will cover the fees for about 300 applicants, according to Lindquist. But sadly that will not cover everyone.

“I think the expectations are that the Swedish higher education will hold such a high international standard that students will come anyway,” Lindquist told The Local.

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.


Foreign students worth €1.6 billion to France

The tens of thousands of international students who come to France each year are giving the country’s economy a healthy boost, a new study has revealed. It's partly in thanks to all the money they shell out just to be able to afford to live here.

Foreign students worth €1.6 billion to France
International students are worth a lot of money to France. Photo:Tulane Public Relations/Flickr

International students in France, particularly in Paris, often curse the cost of living, but they can console themselves with the fact they are worth hundreds of millions of euros to the country’s beleaguered economy.

According to a new survey carried out by the agency BVA on behalf of Campus France, the organisation whose job it is to try to attract young people from abroad, international students cost the French state €3 billion a year but on the upside they bring in €4.65 billion.

The study doesn’t specify how much those incomings are down to money shelled out in the student bars across Paris, but it does show that being an international student in France is not cheap.

When it comes to spends, a foreign student shells out on average €11,000 a year on costs such as food and rent and then there’s the extra cost, pointed out by the study, of having to buy flights home for the holidays.

Foreign students also earn money for French state coffers through tourism, when their families and friends come over to visit.

The state also benefits from the fact that 41 percent of international students work, therefore contribute to health and pension insurance funds, yet rarely benefit from them.

SEE ALSO: How to live on a student budget in Paris

Then there’s the fact 85 percent of those students return to France at some point for tourism reasons. That can in part be put down to the fact that international students are seven times more likely to end up with a positive image of France than a negative one.

According to Campus France there are now around 300,000 international students in France and those numbers have risen 11 percent over the last five years.

Most of them come from wealthy families living in countries where average wages are average or low. Of the 300,000 international students in France, some 43 percent are from Africa, 26 percent from Europe, 19 percent from Asia and 8 percent from the Middle East.

Unsurprisingly the highest concentration of those students are in Paris (28 percent) where an array of universities and a decent nightlife are the main pull for young people from abroad.

That’s followed by the south east, which is home to university towns like Grenoble – voted the best place to be a student in France last year.

The study also showed that nearly three out of four students are enrolled at French universities, where as those enrolled at business and engineering schools.