A new study by the Swedish Higher Education Authority (Universitetskanslersämbetet, UKÄ) has looked into the effects of the fees that Sweden introduced for university students from outside the EU in 2011. According to the study, there are a number of hurdles in the application process for non-EU students. In fact, only 30 per cent of those accepted actually start their studies in Sweden.
Universities have told the agency that the recruitment process is their biggest challenge. Waiting times are long and sometimes a student who has paid does not get their residence permit in time. This means universities have to repay fees. After fees were introduced, the number of non-EU students in Sweden fell by 80 per cent. The students who remain are less diverse, coming from a more narrow selection of countries. Annika Pontén, Acting Head of the Swedish Higher Education Authority says the system needs to be streamlined:”Our survey shows that the recruitment process has several thresholds where we lose students. Fees are certainly the main reason for the shortfall, because a large part of the fee must be paid in order to apply for a residence permit.… The universities state that the process surrounding the residence permit is the biggest challenge right now. Waiting times are often long and sometimes paying students do not receive their permits in time.” The study is available here (in Swedish).
For further reading and analysis, refer to the January and February 2017 editions of the Monthly Policy Review.