Sweden is set to experience a decline of over 75% in the numberof international students studying at its universities. This ismainly attributed to the extraordinary
Down to only 15.000 applications
The Swedish National Agency for Higher Education (
All accepted students from outside Europe were supposed to paytheir tuition fees by June 15 in order to start their studies inautumn. Numbers from HSV showed that only 1.280 students had paidtheir fees in time which implies a substantial decrease ofnon-European students from last year’s 16.600. Torbjörn Lindqvist,adviser to HSV and co-author of the
Setting Sail for Norway
With Sweden imposing tuition fees, Norway remains thelast bastion of free studies in Europe. This has caused significantstrain on the Norwegian higher education landscape. Universitiesthere indicate that they had a massive influx from internationalstudents with some seeing an increase of 45% in applications likeTrondheim’s Norwegian University of Science and Technology.
Already last academic year, 5.000 undergraduates were not able tostart their studies due to capacity shortages. Calls for chargingtuition fees to fund these bottlenecks get louder accordingly. TheSocialist Left government meanwhile insists that higher educationhas to remain free for everyone. Tora Aasland, Norwegian Ministerfor Higher Education and Research, pledged that “as long as thisgovernment is sitting” there will be no change in policy.
Policymakers and advisors in Sweden for now try to make sense ofthe recent turn of events. “I think the expectations are thatthe Swedish higher education will hold such a high internationalstandard that students will come anyway,” according to Lindqvistfrom HSV.
Quality vs. Tuition Fees
However, increasing tuition fees significantly claiming that yourexcellent universities are worth the while may backfire. What thisshows is clear: opting for higher education always remains aneconomic decision by individuals.
This insight could also indicate future developments in otherEuropean countries as British universities are set to triple theirfees by 2012. Recently, the conservative-liberal coalition of DavidCameron and Nick Clegg published a
Basis for this view is the neoclassical belief that studyingmeans investing in human capital which pays off with highersalaries in the future. The Swedish case, however, shows that suchan approach can lead on a slippery slope where studying becomes aprivilege of those who can afford it.
As such, the debate of higher education in Europe shifts from thequestion of excellent teaching towards how much students could becharged to attend universities. It is therefore even moreremarkable that Dutch HE-minister Halbe Zijlstra strongly
He disagrees with the critical approach in questions from his ownconservative-liberal party in Parliament on this issue. Germanstudents were a good influence on the quality of education, becausethey tend to be very motivated and focuses in the studies, hestressed. For the Dutch ‘knowledge economy’ a much moreinternational classroom is an impetus as well, so he sees noreasons to put a brake on the influx of good students fromabroad.
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