Sweden to Charge Non-EU Students

July 9th, 2008 by admin

Almost two years ago on this blog, we talked about the debate in Sweden about whether to charge tuition to international students. Higher education in Sweden is free, but of course Swedes pay extraordinarily high taxes for high level services like free education. International students in Sweden so far have enjoyed the same free education as citizens — but unfortunately it looks like that is changing.

According to higher education minister Lars Leijonborg, no later than January 1, 2010, international students will have to pay tuition, unless they come from an EU country, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway.

From the Local online, Sweden’s News in English: “Our primary argument is that it is unwise of a country not to benefit from a payment system which obviously exists. Why should these students pay money to American or British universities, but not to Swedish [ones]?” Leijonborg explained to the Svenska Dagbladet newspaper.

The proposal includes stipends for students that cannot afford to pay the tuition. How those stipends would be implemented and how it would impact students from developing countries is yet to be determined.

The argument in favor of charging tuition to international students is understandable, as in general they don’t pay taxes into the Swedish system and most other country alternatives would require tuition payments. However, the simple fact that Sweden ignored this relatively minor revenue opportunity, and was gracious with its international student population, set it apart from the rest of the world of international education. While other countries have been criticized for viewing international students as a cash cow (for instance, in the UK international students typically pay much higher tuition than domestic students; in Australia universities have been criticized for enrolling students without sufficient English, arguably after the fees; and in the US international students are not eligible for subsidized federal loans like US students), Sweden has been the shining city on the hill, helping to attract the best and the brightest to its universities. As worldwide competition for international students continues to heat up, Sweden will likely lose a substantial portion of its international student population when it enacts this plan; there’s no doubt that it will lose some of its glimmer in the eyes of students from developing countries.

Click here to read the article in the Local.

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  1. carlos says:

    I have been planning to come to Sweden for a higher education but with income of about $240 a month i wonder how i can pay tution fee and all other expenses oh

  2. Burma Ray says:

    so sad to hear about the news …we really surprise for the change…many students from developing poor country will lost their education opportunity. We would like Sweden sustain the existing system for a few more year that students from poor country may have alternatives

  3. Nargiza says:

    for example i am from developing coutry, and i had a chance to study in sweden. It made me happy with all its education system, country,laboratory (medicine)which was not aviable in my homecountry. and I wonder how in future other student can have acces to such kind of education when they dont have even money to pay for their travel ticket. It is like to give up for lost for developing counrties` students.

  4. Anonymous says:

    How much will the tuition cost? Any estimates?

  5. Emily Yarrington says:


    I am an American student who hopes to study international relations. While I have toyed with the idea of going to university in Sweden, I assure you any instated fees (which seem to be following the footsteps of the Danish) would deter me from any interest. I will probably end up in Britain, where, despite charging tuition, they do have empathy for international students. I suppose you could consider me to be one of America's brightest (Princeton and Harvard have had active interest in me)… and I suppose you could say that this policy is chasing me away. Conclusively, I must say it is a shame to see that Sweden's socialist system is being slowly altered to the for-profit, uncaring circles that are the American system. I admired Sweden, Norway, and Finland for there stance on tuitions, and how they were "unjustified" because of the European Charter of Rights and the Nordic Council's views. I am pleased to say Norway and Finland haven't been corrupted by the Danes and Swedes. Universiteit i Oslo, here I come!

  6. Emily Yarrington says:

    Also, through my research, I have become aware of scores of different university rates throughout Europe. Germany and Austria, while having a tuition-charging system in place, are saints compared to the British. Germany and Austria charge small fees per annum- usually around $900 (yes DOLLARS, not EUROS, I did conversions), while the British charge around $15 000 per annum. However, as a student, I sought out the best place for me to study my field of interest. But if the Danes are anything to judge by (which they are, as they're a member of the Nordic Council) than Sweden will favour a scheme similar to the British, as Copenhagen University charges around $15 000. I have e-mails from universities and government departments on my site http://notuition4me.wetpaint.com please go check it out, as it can give a comprehensive background on this topic.

  7. Emily Yarrington says:

    And everyone from developing countries- read the articles- there's whole schemes set up by unis and the Scandinavian governments exclusively for developing countries. I know for Norway it's reffered to as the ERASMUS programme. Do some research, you will still have the oppurtunities you seek.

  8. Emily Yarrington says:

    Oh, I completely forgot- estimates- if the University of Copenhagen is any foreshadower (which it is, as Denmark is a member of the Nordic Council and Scandinavia) than the rates will be around 10,000 EUR/14,406 USD/102,520 SEK/74,417.9 DKK

    "All students applying for a BSc or MSc degree with citizenship outside EU/EEA must pay tuition fee. The tuition fee amounts to €10,000 annually."- University of Copenhagen


    This link may be of interest to some of you, it is a research project on Denmark and the implication of it's tuition-fee charging.


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