The Swedish Government has responded to a fall in the number of international students coming to the country by increasing scholarship funding.
The sharp decline in student numbers (80% compared to figures for 2009-10) came after the Swedish administration introduced tuition fees for non-European students.
When the fees for non-European students were introduced from the 2011 autumn term, two schemes were brought in to compensate for the loss of international students.
The Swedish Tuition Fee Waiver was earmarked for specially gifted students from all over the world, and enables them to have part or all of their fee waived. The Swedish Institute Study Scholarship was created for nationals of 12 countries with which Sweden has development cooperation programmes.
Both schemes have now been enhanced in the government's budget for 2012. The waiver scheme doubles from SEK30 million (US$4.4 million) to SEK60 million, while the scholarship scheme has been opened to students from all developing countries, with funding raised from SEK30 million to SEK50 million.
The number of students from outside the EU, European Economic Area or Switzerland declined by more than 80%, from 8,000 in 2009-10, the last year of comparable figures, to 1,400 this year. The fee waiver is available only for students not eligible for the scholarship programme and is awarded to students nominated by the universities to which they have applied.
In 2011 the scholarship programme attracted 7,026 applications from 2,700 individuals, but only 105 were granted. Chalmers Technological University secured scholarships for 17 international students, Lund University 12, the Royal Institute of Technology 11, and 18 other universities received one to six places each.
The grant covers all tuition fees, which might go up to SEK322,000 this year, and also provides for a monthly payment of SEK6.720 to cover living costs.
Posted by Keith Broomer
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