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Sweden: decrease in student numbers by 14 000 expected in 2012

The Swedish National Agency for Higher Education has recently released two reports: the Swedish Universities and University Colleges Annual Report, and a report with the forecast in the number of full-time students for the period between 2012 and 2016.

According to the projections, the number of full-time students in Swedish universities in 2012 will be around 297 000, representing a decrease of 10 700 students from 2011 and a decrease of 14 000 compared to 2010, the peak year. It is important to note that the Swedish Parliament had allowed for an increase in the number of university students in the period of 2010-2011. The current forecast for 2012 is, however, close to the numbers verified in 2009. For the period between 2013 and 2016, a further slight decline in students’ number is expected.

The explanations for these trends manly lie in funding cuts and limits on the number of students imposed by the Government, after the exceptional period of 2010-2011. Resources for Swedish higher education institutions are allocated on the basis of the number of full-time equivalent students (FTE) and the number of credits attained. A funding cap for higher education institutions is defined by the Government every year. For 2012, the total funding should amount to SEK 20.4 billion, a decrease in SEK 300 million compared to 2011. From 2013 onwards, further funding cuts are expected.

Starting during the autumn of 2011, the introduction of application fees and tuition fees for third-country students (outside of the EU/EEA area, and Switzerland) who are not participating in exchange programmes, has also resulted in a sharp decline of international third-country students. In 2011, the number of applicants from third-countries dropped by 64% in comparison with the previous year, from 14 000 in 2010 to only 5 000 in 2011.

Swedish National Agency for Higher Education - Swedish Universities and University Colleges Annual Report 2012

Swedish National Agency for Higher Education – Student number forecast report (in Swedish)