Swedish pupils in uni admissions letter blunder

Sweden's oldest university was left red-faced after it accidentally sent out thousands of acceptance letters to children as young as six following a slip-up at the printers.

Swedish pupils in uni admissions letter blunder
Are these Swedish children old enough for university? Photo: Lena Granefelt/

Swedish students can usually start university the year they turn 19. However, this week around 5,000 pupils aged between six and 14 unexpectedly received letters from Uppsala University declaring they had been accepted on to a degree course in teaching starting in the new year.

The formal letter had parents and children in Täby outside of Stockholm scratching their heads. But the head of education in the municipality quickly reassured families this was not an unusual scheme by the Swedish government to get more youngsters interested in the teaching vocation.

“Sure, our pupils in Täby are very talented and sure, there is a teacher shortage, but they should probably finish primary and secondary school first if they are to train as teachers,” Patrik Forshage told regional newspaper UNT after the story was shared on social media.

But the parents seemed unfazed by their children's admission to higher education.

“Siri, 7, is welcomed to the teaching course in Uppsala. To fill the seats they're apparently targeting the lower age brackets,” wrote one dad on Twitter.

The youngsters were supposed to have received letters welcoming them back to school after the Christmas holiday break. But gremlins at the printers responsible for producing both letters admitted the address list got mixed up with the prospective Uppsala students.

“This is of course nothing sent out by Uppsala University, but we have received quite a few calls about it,” Anna Hagborg, of the university's teaching faculty, told UNT.

“Some parents are concerned that it was a case of stolen identities, others saw it as a bit of fun and said things like 'Our daughter is just six years old, perhaps it's a bit too early to train to become a teacher?'” 

The hopeful prospective teachers are set to receive their acceptance letters for the spring semester on December 9th, along with the rest of Sweden's new batch of university students. It was not known on Wednesday what would actually appear in their letter boxes.

Sweden has previously been told by the OECD to invest in teacher training after a decade of slipping results in schools and fewer people applying for university teaching courses.


‘It’s their loss’: Italian universities left off UK special study visa list

The UK is missing out by barring highly skilled Italian graduates from accessing a new work visa, Italy's universities minister said on Wednesday.

'It's their loss': Italian universities left off UK special study visa list

Universities and Research Minister Cristina Messa said she was disappointed by the UK’s decision not to allow any graduates of Italian universities access to its ‘High Potential Individual’ work permit.

“They’re losing a big slice of good graduates, who would provide as many high skills…it’s their loss,” Messa said in an interview with news agency Ansa, adding that Italy would petition the UK government to alter its list to include Italian institutions.

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“It’s a system that Britain obviously as a sovereign state can choose to implement, but we as a government can ask (them) to revise the university rankings,” she said.

The High Potential Individual visa, which launches on May 30th, is designed to bring highly skilled workers from the world’s top universities to the UK in order to compensate for its Brexit-induced labour shortage.

Successful applicants do not require a job offer to be allowed into the country but can apply for one after arriving, meaning potential employers won’t have to pay sponsorship fees.

Students sit on the steps of Roma Tre University in Rome.

Students sit on the steps of Roma Tre University in Rome. Photo by TIZIANA FABI / AFP.

The visa is valid for two years for those with bachelor’s and master’s degrees and three years for PhD holders, with the possibility of moving into “other long-term employment routes” that will allow the individual to remain in the country long-term.

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Italy isn’t the only European country to have been snubbed by the list, which features a total of 37 global universities for the 2021 graduation year (the scheme is open to students who have graduated in the past five years, with a different list for each graduation year since 2016).

The Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, EPFL Switzerland, Paris Sciences et Lettres, the University of Munich, and Sweden’s Karolinska Institute are the sole European inclusions in the document, which mainly privileges US universities.

Produced by the UK’s Education Ministry, the list is reportedly based on three global rankings: Times Higher Education World University Rankings, the Quacquarelli Symonds World University Rankings, and The Academic Ranking of World Universities.

Messa said she will request that the UK consider using ‘more up-to-date indicators’, without specifying which alternative system she had in mind.