Photo: Ingvar Karmhed/Scanpix

Attracting foreign students to Sweden

"If I have to pay for this education myself, I won't be able to do it"
2:48 min

The number of foreign students in Sweden is going up again after a major drop last year. according to a new report, a number of reforms are needed if Sweden is to continue to attract students from abroad.

University studies in Sweden are free, but only if you come from Sweden or other EU or EES countries. Last year the government imposed tuition on those from outside that area, which led to the number of  non-European students here dropping in half, from 14,000 to 7000.

Now the number seems to be rising again. But according to a new study from the Migration Board, a number of changes still need to be made, such as scholarship programs and simpler visa rules.

Diego Fernando Navarro, from Colombia, is on a Masters program in Game Design Development at Stockholm’s Royal Institute of Technology. He says he could never have been able to study here, if he hadn’t received a scholarship from his homeland.

He pays 50,000 kr a semester in tuition, and this, he says, along with the high cost of living in Sweden, would make studying here impossible for many people. He thinks Sweden needs to both increase its scholarship programs, and to start marketing itself abroad as a good climate for research.

Bernd Parusel, who conducted the study for the Migration Board, says the imposition of tuition has mostly affected students from the developing countries.

He tells Radio Sweden the biggest drop has been in students from Iran, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and other Asian countries.       

To make it easier for more people to study in Sweden, the Migration Board has made it possible to apply for a visa online, and the government has introduced scholarship programs.

But Bernd Parusel says these don’t go far enough. He says what are needed are common EU rules for students, the possibly of staying in Sweden to look for work after competing studies, and an opportunity to bring along family members.

Our journalism is based on credibility and impartiality. Swedish Radio is independent and not affiliated to any political, religious, financial, public or private interests.
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