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Sweden: Debated tuition fees for foreign students to be surveyed

The Swedish Higher Education Authority (UKÄ) has been commissioned by the government to conduct a mapping of tuition fees charged to foreign students by universities.

After the 2011 introduction of fees for students originating from outside the EU/EEA , Sweden’s National agencies for higher education (Högskoleverket) had conducted follow-ups ,  evaluating fee structures, but since then a much needed and comprehensive monitoring exercise had been in order. UKÄ’s mandate to execute an all-round evaluation of tuition fees, aims to fill this gap by tracking and accounting for emerged changes and challenges.

The following criteria shall be evaluated in the mapping exercise:

  • The size of tuition fees, looking at cost structures and what is included in them.
  • How regulations for reimbursement of study fees are applied
  • Tracking how rules for separate admissions for fee paying students are being used and experiences with this framework
  • How student mobility has been affected, particularly in relation to long standing exchange with sending partner countries of Sweden
  • The recruitment process of tuition fee paying students, with an aim to illustrate the proportion of potential students who maintain interest in studying in the country, at each stage of the recruitment process.
  • How scholarships have contributed to the possibilities for recruiting students
  • How study offers have changed
  • Whether recruitment for studies at research level has been affected

The mapping exercise comes timely in light of a critical debate that had reached a peak in May - following Sweden’s national radio station (Dagens Eko) revealing findings that suggested high variance in pricing and that applied fee levels could double up to twice the price as actual costs incurred by institutions.  Back then the Minster of Higher Education and Research responded by ensuring to mandate a review on how institutions were setting fees, also pointing out that the current system left universities largely unregulated to determine cost structures. (see ACA Newsletter, Education Europe May 2016)

The survey is to be conducted in cooperation with ACA member the Swedish Council for Higher Education, providing access valuable statistics and records, although the core of the mapping will be based on institutional responses.  The mapping of study fees for foreign students is anticipated to be presented to government by mid-January 2017.

UKÄ – press release (only in Swedish)