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Decision close on tuition fees

Linköping University (LiU) will soon make a decision on tuition fees for overseas students. The introduction of fees will most likely lead to fewer students, a hefty loss of revenue and a sharp reduction in courses on offer.

This year's intake of foreign students is the last major one at LiU - around 900 students. The majority of them are from non-EU/EEA countries, a group that will have to pay for their education at Swedish universities as of the autumn semester 2011; this follows a government decision last spring.

The fees will apply to so-called free movers, students who independently apply to Swedish universities from countries outside EU and EEA. Exchange students will not be affected.

The introduction of fees risks having a massive impact. For the autumn semester 2010, a total of 90,000 applications from foreign students were received by Swedish universities. The number of applications for master’s programmes starting spring semester 2011 has already soared with an increase of 124 per cent or 23,000 individuals according to the Swedish Agency for Higher Education Services (VHS). The increase in applications for international courses is currently 43 per cent, says VHS.

All signs point to the fact that the introduction of tuition fees will lead to a drastic cut in the number of applicants. When Denmark introduced fees a few years ago the number of applications from non-EU/EEA students dropped by nearly 90 per cent. Since then Denmark has, to some extent, made up this shortfall with increased European recruitment.

What awaits LiU?

“Like all other higher education institutions, we expect a significant drop in numbers. But we have made no attempts to quantify this”, says Lars Holberg, Director of Information at LiU.

“However, we have set a goal for the next three years. By 2014 we want to see levels that are at least half of today's numbers. To achieve this we will probably have to significantly increase the proportion of European students. “

Lars Holberg also adds that in order to meet the new conditions, LiU will in the future have to increase its marketing activities and review the admissions and reception processes.

The foreign students have in the past contributed millions of Swedish kronor to Swedish universities in the form of government funding. For LiU this has been in the region of about 80-90 million SEK (8-9 million Euro) per year.

“The change in funding has coincided with record-levels of Swedish young people reaching university age. This has mitigated the economic impact in the short term, but in the long run, the change will be noticeable.”

“However more important than the financial aspect is the fact that foreign students enrich the educational environment and give LiU an opportunity to broaden our course offerings. Especially in engineering programmes, foreign master’s students have enabled us to offer more opportunities for specialisation. “

With fewer foreign students there is the risk that there will be fewer courses on offer in the future, which could lead to a reduction in teaching positions.

Several universities, including the Royal Institute of Technology, now intend to contact major Swedish industries to attempt to set up scholarships.

Has LiU got similar plans?

“Well, we have started down that path. But it will take time to develop solutions”, says Lars Holberg.

The university’s management will meet on Friday, August 27th to discuss what levels of fees will apply to LiU courses and programmes. A decision will follow shortly.

Based on the discussions so far the fees are likely to range between 80,000-130,000 SEK (8,000-13,000 Euro) per academic year depending on programme and faculty.

Therese Winder 2010-08-25

Page manager: therese.winder@liu.se
Last updated: 2010-08-25