Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Studying in Sweden – Native vs. Foreigner

OK – so one of the perks of living in Sweden (or up until this year even not living in Sweden) has been free access to University education. Swedish schools have offered Bachelors and Masters courses free of charge to students from around the world.

Why? Because up until this year, universities in Sweden got paid per passing student, per course, irregardless of whether the student ever had or would be a tax-paying resident of Sweden. This means it was in the universities 'best interest to recruit as many students as possible, to continue getting more and more funding each year. And so, yes, foreign students were a cash cow.

But as of 2011, this cash cow will dry up. Foreign students will have to pay their own way. And that, my friends, changes everything. Each school is working on setting up their own fees starting at around 100,000 sek per year, but no one knows just what to expect. How many foreign students will want to pay for education in Sweden? And what will that mean for the quality of the courses offered by the Swedish schools, will it increase with a new price tag? How many of these English Masters will weather the storm?

Applications are usually due for foreigners in January. It will be a good litmus test for next fall. This could mean good news to open up more spots for Swedes, but as the economy picks up, fewer Swedes will enroll in graduate school.

Part of my reason for asking this is a personal one. I'm debating applying for a Masters for the fall. But I wonder if there will be any left!


  1. I've read and agree a bit with some dire predictions related to this. The prices for the new degrees are really very high, I think, and you still have to pay for living expenses. There are other places people will prefer to go, I think.

    It seems like it's been way too easy for students to get into the universities since it was in their interests to admit as many students as possible. Maybe the quality of students will be higher?

    I worry about it mostly because they'll be needing fewer teachers, and I'm a university instructor. I bet a lot of departments will shut down.

  2. I think, sadly, you are right. And I think the repercussions might be a lot bigger than people imagine. These programs employ a lot of academics that already struggle to find employment.

    I'm hoping that the quality of students might be higher, but also that in order to attract students, they might have to increase the quality of the courses as well.

  3. Foreign students in Australia pay very high fees and it hasn't stopped them coming. Though there are other problems because of it.