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Preparation for the implementation of tuition fees in Sweden

There had been several delays in passage of the bill that would require tuition fees (as of autumn 2011) from students attending Swedish universities from Switzerland and from outside the EU/EEA. Now, however, the time available for Swedish higher education institutions (HEIs) to prepare for the implementation of such fees grows short. The main challenge turns on how to compete with HEIs in other developed countries having now lost the advantage of a no-fee system.

At an institutional level two types of approaches could apply. Some HEIs have already decided to start their own scholarship programmes, and have also financed them, notably by support from industry. Others are discussing the possibility of concentrating on European students only, or to focus on just a few subjects or a few countries and put all their marketing efforts in those areas. A number of HEIs participate in the marketing project that is lead by the Swedish Institute, which they hope will make a difference for them in the competition for international students. The size and reputation of individual institutions could strongly influence strategic responses to this situation, but market demand must clearly be taken into account.

Sweden could learn from the experiences of fee implementation in the Netherlands and Denmark, but the Swedes also need to deal with other challenges. These include needing to accommodate students, speeding up the admission process and the coordinating between government bodies, such as the Migration Board and the Swedish Tax Agency. Serious organisational changes will need to take place to deal with this new situation.