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Last month the Swedish government has finally decided to start implementing tuition fees for foreign students from countries outside the EU, EEA and Switzerland. The fees will be introduced in the autumn term of 2011. The Government Bill entitled "Competing on the basis of quality - tuition fees for foreign students" has been presented to the Swedish Parliament which will take the final decision this spring. According to the proposal first formulated in 2006 (see ACA Newsletter – Education Europe, February 2006), then further dicussed in 2009 (see ACA Newsletter - Education Europe, September 2009) the fees shall cover all real costs connected to the courses and study programmes. The level of tuition fees will be decided by the higher education institutions based on factual course and study programme cost.
Yet, students already studying in Sweden, or starting before the autumn 2011, are allowed to carry on their studies without paying any tuition fee. Students from countries outside the EU, EEA and Switzerland with a strong affiliation to Sweden, having a permanent student or other residence permit will be exempted from paying the fees. Parallel to the introduction of fees, two new scholarship programmes are established, offsetting some of the financial burdens associated. One is a full scholarship program – covering both tuition fees and living costs – for exceptionally gifted students from countries that Sweden has long term supportive relations with, most of them in Africa. Another is a scholarship program covering whole or parts of the tuition fee from third countries, in general.
“These days, education is a global market. Sweden should compete in this market by offering education of high quality, not offering a free education”- highlights Tobias Krantz, Minister for Higher Education and Research. Hopefully any potential decrease of foreign students (see Danish example) will be compensated with reinforced and more targeted marketing and recruitment activity.