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According to Sweden's education minister Lars Leijonborg, the government plans to end its no-tuition policy for university students from non-European countries. Beginning in 2010 at the latest, non-European students who study at universities in Sweden will be charged tuition fees. Simultaniously, a scholarship plan for students who can not afford the new fees will be introduced.
"Our primary argument is that it is unwise of a country not to benefit from a payment system, which obviously exists," stated Leijonborg. "Why should these students pay money to American or British universities, but not to Swedish (ones)?" The minister stressed that Swedish universities “must maintain a high international level”, and that introducing fees was therefore an inavoidable step. Currently, there are around 13 000 foreign students enrolled in Swedish higher education institutions. These are predominantly male students from Asia pursuing technical degrees. Students from EU and EEC member states would not pay tuition under the plan.
The plan will be presented to the Parliament later this year. Sweden, along with Finland and Norway, is one of the few tuition-free countries in Europe. It remains to be seen if and how soon the other Nordic countries will follow Sweden’s example.