Why are international doctoral students flocking to Stockholm universities?

The share of international doctoral students in Stockholm has increased sharply in the past ten years, a new report shows.

Why are international doctoral students flocking to Stockholm universities?
The KTH Royal Institute of Technology gets the largest share of international doctoral students. Photo: Veronica Johansson/SvD/TT

A total of 43 percent of Stockholm's 5,440 doctoral students come from another country – an increase of 14 percentage points since 2008 – according to the report by the Stockholm Academic Forum (Staf).

Most of them are enrolled at the KTH Royal Institute of Technology, where almost 1,000 doctoral students are of foreign origin – or, in other words, 58 percent of doctoral students at the university.

The Stockholm School of Economics has seen its share of international doctoral students grow from 25 to a whopping 53 percent over the past ten years, and from 19 to 42 percent at Stockholm University.

Sweden as a whole has seen a rise from 20 percent to 35 percent in the same period.

“It is a testament to the great reputation of our higher education institutions. We know that Stockholm is highly valued by foreign researchers, and in international comparisons, we often see that higher ranked universities have a higher proportion of international doctoral students,” said Maria Fogelström Kylberg, CEO of Staf, a collaborative body of Stockholm City and its 18 higher education institutions, in a statement.


Being a doctoral student in Sweden comes with several perks. One of the main ones is that unlike in many other countries, in Sweden doing a PhD is considered a job, which means that it often comes with not just student discounts, but also a range of employee benefits: salary, holiday days, sick pay and a pension.

If you come from a non-EU country, you may also be eligible for a permanent residence permit after your four years of doctoral studies – an attempt by Sweden to convince foreign talent to stay after their studies.

But students waiting for an extension to their permit often face long waits for a decision, and several readers have told The Local of the stress this causes: including being prevented from travelling to their home countries to visit family and friends, or missing out on key international academic conferences.

If you are an international doctoral student in Sweden who want to share your story – good or bad – we would love to hear from you. Please email [email protected].

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Schools to close as French teachers strike over Covid rules

Around three-quarters of French teachers plan to go on strike onThursday to protest the government's shifting rules on Covid testing for students, forcing the closure of half the country's primary schools, a union said Tuesday.

Schools to close as French teachers strike over Covid rules
Photo: Fred Tanneau/AFP

The strike led by the Snuipp-FSU union, the largest among primary school teachers, comes after the latest of several changes on testing and isolation requirements for potential Covid cases announced by Prime Minister Jean Castex late Monday.

After seeing long lines of parents outside pharmacies and labs in recent days to test children in classes where a case was detected, Castex said home tests could now be used to determine if a student could return to school.

But teachers say class disruptions have become unmanageable with the spread of the highly contagious Omicron coronavirus variant.

“Students cannot learn properly because attendance varies wildly, and a hybrid of in-house and distance learning is impossible to put in place,” the Snuipp-FSU said, adding that absent teachers are not being replaced.

It is also demanding the government provide facemasks for staff, including the more protective FFP2 masks, and CO2 monitors to check if classrooms are sufficiently ventilated.

“Not only does the current protocol not protect students, staff or their families, it has completely disorganised schools,” the union said, claiming that classes have effectively been turned into “daycare centres.”

Education Minister Jean-Michel Blanquer has said the government is doing everything possible to avoid outright school closures that could cause havoc for parents and jeopardise learning for thousands, especially those in low-income families.

“I know there is a lot of fatigue, of anxiety… but you don’t go on strike against a virus,” Blanquer told BFM television on Tuesday.

As of Monday some 10,000 classes had been shut nationwide because of Covid cases, representing around two percent of all primary school classes, Blanquer said.