Quality wins over Stockholm’s foreign students

Since Sweden introduced university tuition fees for people from non-EU countries, students' expectations have increased. But those studying at Stockholm University say they are getting good value for money.

Quality wins over Stockholm's foreign students

Swedish universities are facing ever greater internal and external competition following the introduction of fees for students from outside the EU. Stockholm University is tackling the changes with enthusiasm, thanks to its reputation for high-quality research and teaching, combined with an extensive scholarship programme.

The first intake of students since fees were introduced say they are pleased with their experiences so far:


“The quality of the courses is very very high, I love studying here,” says Olga Natsarenus from Moscow, who is currently studying a masters in Information Systems Management.


“All of the teachers are highly qualified and experienced in their fields. We get to do relevant group projects and take on real business cases. I chose this course specifically to receive more practical knowledge and experience”, she adds.


The introduction of tuition fees for non-EU and EEA students has naturally had a profound effect on the number of applications from abroad, so Stockholm University has responded by heavily emphasising the quality of education.


Meanwhile, a scholarship scheme has been launched by the Ministry for Education, to ensure that talented foreign students can still study in Sweden, whatever their means. The ministry announced in October that it has allotted an additional 20 million kronor ($2.9 million) in scholarship funding to help offset tuition fees.


“The quality of our university programmes increases when successful international students participate. Scholarships are a way to attract talented students,” said education minister Jan Björklund in a statement at the time.


Stockholm University’s excellent facilities, top quality education and excellent prospects mean it numbers among the elite educational establishments of Europe. Its location in one of Europe’s most beautiful and dynamic capitals adds to the attraction.


“There are facilities that just cannot be matched anywhere, especially for someone studying film and cinema,” says Jia Xu, who is studying for a Film Studies Master’s.


”We have the Ingmar Bergman archive, which is a wonderful Unesco-certified resource, as well as the Swedish Film Institute Library. Add to that the wide diversity of the students here and good teachers, and it makes it a really competitive stimulating place to study.”


For Daniela Palacios from Ecuador, currently studying a Masters at Stockholm University’s Department of Law, the international aspect of the courses at the university is also invaluable.


”It is a great experience for foreign students who come here. The university has a fantastic reputation, and it is one of the best in the world in both of the programmes I have studied here. The professors and quality of education here are of the highest quality.” 


Furthermore, the fact that lectures are in English helps both personally and academically, according to the 27-year-old, who had previously worked as a lawyer in Quito, Ecuador before coming to Sweden.

”When I am finished, my studies and the experience from my time here make me pretty sure that I will be in a good position to start my career. Stockholm is a wonderful cosmopolitan city and the fact that lectures are all in English is an added benefit. If I was in France or somewhere else I would have to learn a new language on top of all my other studies,” says Palacios.

The benefits of being at Stockholm University are many, but the fact remains that for some, the only way to study in the Swedish capital will be to win a scholarship.

The Swedish Institute, a government agency, administers over 500 scholarships each year for students and researchers coming to Sweden to pursue their objectives at a Swedish university. This year, 697 applications reached the Swedish Institute, with Bangladesh, Ethiopia and Uganda representing 465 of them. As the new tuition fees come into effect though, that number is likely to rise significantly.

Jia Xu, who is from China, started last year when tuition was still free. Even though she has not had to pay for her tuition, sshe still believes the education and facilities still represent good value for those who do:

“It’s not too expensive for many arts major students from Asia, but a lot depends on the individual student and on what you want and expect from the programme” she says.


For Chinese students in particular, there is another reason why Stockholm University still represents good value.


“In China we are experiencing unprecedented levels of inflation, so for some it wouldn’t be so expensive anyway and Sweden is definitely one of the greatest options for somewhere to study.


“During my three years in Beijing I learned to make a living, but here I’m making a life.”

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Norwegian battery start-up Freyr demands subsidies to complete factory

The Freyr battery start-up has halted construction of its Giga Arctic factory and demanded additional government subsidies, Norway's state broadcaster NRK has reported.

Norwegian battery start-up Freyr demands subsidies to complete factory

Jan Arve Haugan, the company’s operations director, told the broadcaster that the company would not order any more equipment until Norway’s government committed to further subsidies. 

“We are holding back further orders for prefabricated steel and concrete pending clarification on further progress,” he said. “We are keen to move forward, but we have to respect that there is a political process going on, and we have expectations that words will be put into action.” 

Freyr in April 2019 announced its plans to build the 17 billion kroner Giga Arctic in Mo i Rana, and has so far received 4 billion kroner in loans and loan guarantees from the Norwegian government. It has already started construction and hopes to complete the build by 2024-2025. 

Haugan said that the enormous subsidies for green industry in the Inflation Reduction Act voted through in the US in 2022 had changed the playing field for companies like Freyr, meaning Norway would need to increase the level of subsidies if the project was to be viable. 

Freyr in December announced plans for Giga America, a $1.3bn facility which it plans to build in Coweta, Georgia.   

“What the Americans have done, which is completely exceptional, is to provide very solid support for the renewable industry,” Haugen said. “This changes the framework conditions for a company like Freyr, and we have to take that into account.” 

Jan Christian Vestre, Norway’s industry minister, said that the government was looking at what actions to take to counter the impact of the Inflation Reduction Act, but said he was unwilling to get drawn into a subsidy battle with the US. 

“The government is working on how to upgrade our instruments and I hope that we will have further clarifications towards the summer,” he said.

“We are not going to imitate the Americans’ subsidy race. We have never competed in Norway to be the cheapest or most heavily subsidised. We have competed on competence, Norwegian labour, clean and affordable energy and being world champions in high productivity.”