SWEDEN: Fees for foreign students possible from 2010

The Swedish Government is discussing how and when to introduce tuition fees for students from outside the European Union.

The reason why Sweden is wanting to introduce an application fee - likely to be around SEK1,000 - is that higher education institutions were this year flooded with 114,900 applications from non-European students, with only 18,000 offered admission.

The Swedish authorities believe an application fee will discourage the less serious applications, reducing the administrative burden on Swedish universities that are having to wade through piles of ineligible applications.

In their work on the matter of international student fees, Swedish higher education authorities produced a report studying the effects of introducing fees for international students in the Netherlands from 2004 and in Denmark from 2006.

There is still strong demand from international students in the Netherlands, but in Denmark the number of applications has declined by almost 40%.

In the Netherlands, universities decide the level of international student fees, which can range from around EUR2,000 to 3,000 depending on the subject and level of study. The number of international students has grown by 15% since 2004.

Higher education across the board in Denmark has been hit by the reduction in international student numbers, except for doctoral studies where the financing is different, since most such PhD students are also employees.

To address the decline, the Danish government among other things established a number of scholarships for international students - from both inside and outside the EU - in climate studies. The COP 15 Climate Scholarships are related to the large climate conference being held in Copenhagen this December.

Swedish authorities are still collecting data and debating how to introduce fees without losing top brains from abroad.

The discussions on student fees are taking place while Swedish universities are proving highly successful at attracting Erasmus Mundus scholarship students from outside Europe.

Lund University has two such grants from the EU Commission, receiving students from China and India with a total Erasmus Mundus grant of around EUR25 million. These students do not have to pay fees - even after 2011.