Stay in the loop! Subscribe to our mailing list

Sweden: Numbers of accepted students for 2011/12 fall precipitously

Earlier this year, ACA reported that the number of students submitting applications for autumn 2011 to international master and bachelor programmes in Sweden had dropped significantly in comparison to the previous year (see ACA Newsletter-Education Europe, February 2011). This decrease was broadly attributed to the fact that Sweden had introduced both application and tuition fees, effective for the autumn 2011 admission cycle. The Swedish Agency for Higher Education Services (known by its Swedish acronym VHS) is a central unit that handles all such applications and is now providing the first indications of what this decrease in applications may yield in terms of actual students enrolled in autumn 2011, at least at the master level. The results are striking – as of early May 2011, VHS has reported that the number of students who have been admitted to master programmes fell by 65% from 2010 to 2011—from 19 588 in 2010 to 6 093 in 2011.

Sweden’s application fee currently stands at SEK 900 (EUR 100), making it one of the highest application fees for admission to higher education around the world. Tuition in Sweden typically ranges now between SEK 80 000 and 140 000 (EUR 9 000 to 15 700) at the master level, although some programs in science, medicine and arts are more expensive due to higher costs. Tuition at the bachelor level is somewhat lower starting at SEK 60 000 (EUR 6 700). The steep fall in applications and numbers of accepted students is by no means unexpected in the wake of the “double whammy” introduction of the application fee and tuition last year, but there is, nonetheless, significant concern about how some Swedish institutions which previously received high levels of students may (or may not) rebound over time.

Citing a more optimistic note, VHS points out that the “[fees] reform has … reduced the number of applications from students not truly interested in studying in Sweden” and that the “the percent of qualified applicants from the entire applicant pool has actually increased from last year”. The overall picture should be clearer after 15 June, when accepted students are to have actually made a monetary commitment to enrolling in autumn 2011. Still, the drop in numbers is dramatic and the effects of these will likely resonate for some time.

Swedish Agency for Higher Education Services