Decrease in international applicants to Swedish universities

Since this is the first year that international students from outside of the EU/EEA area are required to pay tuition fees for programs held at Swedish universities, the number of international applicants has decreased dramatically. As expected, data from VHS (Swedish Agency for Higher Education Services) shows that the number of applicants to master’s programs decreased by 73 % compared to applications for autumn 2010. 25,094 applications were submitted for master’s programs of autumn semester 2011, compared to 91,788 for autumn 2010 (all statistics from VHS).

Lund University received the highest number of applicants for 2011.

Lund University was the most popular Swedish university — with the highest number of applicants both in total and as the first-hand choice university — followed by KTH, Royal Institute of Technology and Stockholm University. A detailed list of the number of applicants per university can be found here.

Although a decreased number of applicants do not necessarily translate to a decrease in admitted students, some Swedish universities will most likely have fewer non-EU students arriving to their campuses in 2011 compared to previous years. The same pattern, to a comparable or even larger extent, could be seen in Denmark and the Netherlands, who recently made a similar switch to tuition fees. However, competition for most programs is still high.

Because of the many positive effects an international climate has on the education and research conducted at the university level, this is of course an unwanted situation. On the positive side is that many Swedish universities have started recruiting qualified international students more actively and taken it upon themselves to work harder with ensuring quality and services for their students. Both on their own and in collaboration with the Study in Sweden team at the Swedish Institute. Hopefully the number of available scholarships will also continue to increase. It all comes down to a strong belief that Swedish higher education has a lot to offer the world, and that the world has a lot to offer to Swedish higher education.

It is truly a challenge for the Swedish universities, which I hope they will take on with passion.

*Update: If you want to find out more about the reasons for introducing tuition fees, please follow this link.