Growing competition and fewer pupils could be part of the reason by free school company JB filed for bankruptcy. Photo: Jonas Ekströmer/Scanpix.

More free schools could go bust

The Swedish Schools Inspectorate wants more control over the finances of Sweden's publicly-funded, privately-managed "free schools" (friskolor) in order to protect pupils whose schools go bankrupt.

Ann-Marie Begler, president of the Schools Inspectorate (Skolinspektionen), told Swedish Radio News that competition is growing among private school companies while the number of pupils is decreasing. So, she said, there is a great risk that more free schools will go bankrupt in the near future.

One company, JB Education, filed for bankruptcy this summer, leaving behind debts of over SEK 1 billion. Several of Sweden's private school companies are also experiencing financial trouble.

At the same time, the number of pupils in Sweden has decreased by 20,000 in the past four years. This year, the number of pupils starting secondary school (gymnasium) was at a 30-year low, and the trend is expected to continue in the next two years.

"Schools will close down and be phased out," Begler predicted.

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