Gertrude Chilufya
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Student Gertrude Chilufya. Foto: Martina Pierrou/Sveriges Radio
Joynul Abedin
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Student Joynul Abedin. Foto: Martina Pierrou/Sveriges Radio

Money cut from foreign student scholarships

"Without the scholarship I wouldn't be here"
1:48 min

Starting next year many foreign students hoping to study in Sweden will have to foot the whole bill themselves now, after funding for scholarships is being cut.

The Swedish Institute offers scholarships to non-European students, so that they may be able to study at Swedish universities, but next year, these scholarships are going to disappear as SEK 50 million is re-allocated within the aid budget.

"Without the scholarship I wouldn't be here," Gertrude Chilufya told Swedish Radio P3 News. Chilufya is from Zambia and is studying in the first term in the Master's Program in Media and Communication at Lund University in southern Sweden.

Next year there will be no scholarships specificaly for non-EU students submitting new applications to study. The exception will be for students coming from Syria and South Africa, countries with which Sweden has a special agreement.

"It's a really big pity that people will not be able to get the scholarship next year," Chiluya said.

But there is still a SEK 35 million find, for students including EU and non-EU to apply for, reports Radio Sweden.

Parliament has decided not to give the Swedish Institute the 50 million SEK needed for the scholarships, and there does not seem to be any chance that this will change after the new election in March next year.

Joynul Abedin is studying for a Master's in Development Studies, and wishes the scholarship fund would remain.

"It will add different life experiences from different countries. That's why I think these types of programs should have different types of students from different backgrounds," Abedin said.

Abedin comes from Bangladesh and has himself lived through humanitarian catastrophes, like flooding.

"Only rich students will apply, so Lund University and universities like that will have to choose from that pool, not from the talented one," Abedin said.

The motivation behind the decision to eliminate new scholarships next year comes from Parliament needing to allocate money to handle the increased number of refugees coming into Sweden.

But Monica Wirkkala, who is responsible for foreign scholarships at the Swedish Institute, does not agree with this reasoning.

"I think that we should absolutely have both! We should take in and help refugees and we should also be able to take in foreign students, who perhaps do not have a humanitarian need but who do have so much to benefit from by coming here," Wirkkala said.


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