The government investigator Agneta Bladh, appointed last year to work out a comprehensive strategy for the internationalisation of Swedish higher education, on 31 October presented her report to Minister for Higher Education and Research Helene Hellmark Knutsson and later shared it with an audience at Uppsala University.
The 475-page report, Increased Attractivity – Momentum for Sweden as a knowledge nation (with a 38-page English summary), proposes to strengthen Swedish internationalisation of higher education through a plethora of measures, but most notably through increased recruitment of international students by making their route into Swedish universities much less burdensome than it is today and by increasing scholarship funding.
“Many countries today are competing for knowledge, competence and investments to improve their position. Higher education, research and innovations are key factors in this picture, but the competition is tough. Several countries are making great efforts. So is Sweden, but not to the same degree as many countries we can compare ourselves with,” the report said.
“For Sweden to maintain quality and relevance, more international networks and contacts are needed and the governmental support system must be rigged so that it is supporting the work at the higher education institutions in the best possible way,” the report says.
The full two-part report – which incorporates a previous report published in February – notes that Sweden in 2007 received 1% of the world’s mobile students, but due to the introduction of tuition fees for students from outside Europe in 2017 this share fell to 0.6% or 3,400 tuition fee-paying students.
However, there is an enormous amount of work being undertaken today by the higher education institutions to attract and retain international students.
The report provides statistics from 2014-15, when Swedish higher education institutions received a total of 40,727 applications for places from international students and 14,493 paid the application fee. However, although 5,448 were accepted, only 2,816 paid the tuition fees. In addition, within two years of being accepted, only 1,528 had passed the degree examinations in the course they applied for.
The report proposes a policy of continuing to claim full-cost tuition fees from international students, but clearly states that the condition for this is that the higher education institutions must account for all the costs that are claimed in the tuition fee set for each course, so that students can see what they are paying for.
Read more : Jan Petter Myklebust : University World News : 03 November 2018