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Sweden: No tuition fees, no Erasmus Mundus?

The Association of Swedish Higher Education (SUHF) has asked the Swedish Ministry of Education for new legislation in order to make it possible for Swedish higher education institutions to take part in Erasmus Mundus actions with other European partner universities. The need for revised legislation has arisen out of the fact that Swedish universities are not allowed to charge tuition fees apart from third country nationals coming to Sweden for the purpose of studies. Erasmus Mundus Masters Courses (EMMC), however, normally charge enrolled students a significant amount of money.

Following complaints from Swedish students who took part in EMMCs for having been charged enrolment fees at Swedish universities, the Swedish Higher Education Authority (UK-ambetet) made clear that the students had to be reimbursed for the part of their studies in Sweden, as Swedish law requires free access to higher education. Participation in an EMMC would not constitute an exception to this rule. However, since EMMCs are organised within a consortium of universities from different member states, this might lead to a situation of inequality in which students would not be charged the same amount of tuition fees as other participants, depending on their nationality.

Although the clarification provided by the Swedish UK-ambetet leaves no further legal questions on this matter, the current legislation is creating an obstacle for Swedish higher education institutions to participate in EMMCs with other partner universities. The official SUHF letter to the Swedish Ministry of Education even underscores that current forms of cooperation within EMMC frameworks are actually supposed to be cancelled due to the legislative situation. Other Nordic countries encounter similar problems and are likewise currently seeking a solution in cooperation with the European Commission. In light of the new call for proposals for Erasmus Mundus Partnerships in November 2013, a resolution of this problem would, in fact, be needed as soon as possible. 

SUHF - Official letter (in Swedish)

Swedish Council for Higher Education - Erasmus Mundus and tuition fee problem (in Swedish)