Sweden to boost foreign student scholarships

In a bid to encourage diversity at Swedish universities, the government wants to double the resources available for scholarships to help students from developing countries study in Sweden.

Sweden to boost foreign student scholarships

“We think it is a great initiative,” Kay Svensson, International Coordinator at Uppsala University, told The Local.

In 2011, tuition fees were introduced for students from countries outside of the EES and Switzerland who wanted to study at Swedish universities.

At the time, education ministry officials explained they wanted Swedish universities to compete globally based on the quality of the education rather than free tuition.

The higher education fees, which went into effect for the 2011 autumn term, ranged from 100,000 kronor ($16,000) per annum to around 230,000 kronor, depending on the programme and school.

At the same time, a scholarship scheme was put into effect to make it possible for students from less affluent countries to be able to study in Sweden.

However, in order to boost the numbers of applications from non-European students, the government has included a proposal in the 2013 budget to increase the number of scholarships aimed at students from developing countries as defined the Development Assistance Committee of the OECD.

The funds available to finance the scholarships will be increased by 50 million kronor ($7.6 million) by 2013, bringing to 100 million kronor the amount of money set aside each year in the budget.

The scholarships will be awarded by the Swedish Institute and will be financed through the government’s aid subsidies.

An additional 60 million kronor will be made available for scholarships to be awarded for academic excellence to students from anywhere in the world.

These will be allocated to universities by the International Programme Office for Education and Training (Internationella programkontoret).

The government hopes the measure would result in more students from lower- and middle-income countries being able to benefit from a Swedish university education.

According to Svensson, the new funds will most likely mean an increase of students from developing countries coming to Uppsala University, which has experience a decrease in such students since fees were introduced.

“But it must be said that from some of the countries we have received more students since the scholarship scheme and the tuition fees were introduced,” Svensson said.

“Even with no tuition fees it was never free to study and live in Sweden.”

According to Svensson it is important for the university to attract a diverse group of scholars and students.

“For us to maintain the high level of research that we strive for, we need to have a diverse university environment. It works both ways, they get a quality education and we benefit from their different experiences and research outlook,” Svensson told The Local.

Rebecca Martin

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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