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Privately owned and publicly funded schools compete for students

’Free Schools’ hit by low student numbers

Many of Sweden’s so-called Free Schools - privately owned schools with public funding – are threatened by a low intake of students, and some may be forced to close.

In the Stockholm region alone less than a half of these independently run schools have managed to fill half their vacancies for the autumn term, according to a Swedish Radio investigation.

The shortage of students is partly due to demographics – fewer 15-year-olds need upper secondary school places across the country. However it is also due to a surplus of Free School places on offer, says Mikael Kubu, the receiver who oversaw the closure of one such school in Värmdö, outside Stockholm.

“It’s clear that if the supply is bigger than the demand, that will be a factor,” he said.

There are more than 120 Free Schools in the Stockholm region. Three of them have yet to receive any applications from students for the coming academic year.

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