Tuition Fees in Sweden from 2010 – Would you still study in Sweden?

The 80 000 Crown question is would you still study in Sweden when our universities start charging fees? The Local has a lively thread about this and there are some thought provoking comments.

The Local also has a more general discussion about fees.

The Local also reported a few days ago that the Association of Swedish Higher Education recently suggested that Swedish universities reject all applications from non EU students. Wow, that’s a remarkable statement to make. The Local also says that this has been strenuously criticised by Sweden’s Higher Education Agency who counter by saying that such an action would probably be illegal. This was news from a while ago, as far as I can see, and was apparently a knee jerk reaction to the difficulties in administrating a growing number of applications.

Andrei Neculau has a provocative discussion about fees on his blog.

Swedish Universities Plan to Charge Tuition Fees – China View. It’s not surprising that a Chinese news site should pick this up, given the large number of Chinese students we get. I assume if it turns up in English on this site then it’s also been covered in Chinese.

Sweden Ending no-Tuition Policy – UPI (I guess they missed out the word ‘fees’ there…)

Update June 2010 – Check out the latest news regarding fees here.

Tuition Fees for International Students in Sweden from 2010

Please note: since the time of writing, most of this post is out of date. Check out the updates below…

Non EU/EES students will, from the 1st January 2010, pay to study in Sweden. This is the latest comment from the Swedish government, as part of the the Internationalisation of Higher Education bill which will come into effect in the Autumn of this year, as reported in SvD this morning.

Update, July 2010. Lund University announces tuition fees.

Update, June 2010 – Check out the latest post on this here.

Update, December 12th 2008: The 1st of January date may not be correct, it could be later in the year. There is no officially published date as yet.

This story is now also available in english at The Local.

The article is a little light on detail but the following main facts emerge:

– kick off will be the 1st January 2010 (see the above update)

– fees will be set by each university

– there will be some form of scholarship system

The previous government, according to SvD, suggested 80 000 SEK per year as a fee. That’s about 8 500 EURO (to put that into perspective, an international student studying in the UK pays around 12 500 EURO).

So, that’s about one and half years to decide on a marketing strategy, set up the infrastructure and recruit students. This is a huge change for Swedish education and the implications for our university are massive. The critical question is ‘if we had fees, would you have still have come to Lund?’.

There’s plenty of discussion about this at the SvD site – close on a 100 comments in the last few hours.

Updated 2 July 2008 – For some of the background to the Governments announcement take a look at the summary, in English, of their investigation into tuition fees. You need to take a look at pages 13 – 16 for the english summary.

Students who have already begun studying, or are applying in the application periods starting in 2008 or 2009, will not pay fees. The vote will be in Spring 2009. More information will be available then.

New Lund University – Chinese Pages

I’m involved in a project to prepare new pages for Lund University describing our work with Chinese universities. The main aim is to help improve both the mobility of students and researchers between Lund and China.

One of the first things we did was, using an existing mailing list which had both Chinese and Swedish addresses, email out a questionnaire (using Questback) asking 5 questions.

You can see all the answers from the Questback survey here.

The questions were:

– Where are you living?

– What are you? (e.g. student, researcher etc)

– Which institution do you work or study at?

– What do you think the most important information, for you, that a Lund University – China website would have?

– Is it important to have a Chinese version of the website?

In retrospect I should have had the 4th question worded as ‘what tasks do you think you would try to do on a Lund University – China website’. However, we’ve still got some interesting results (103 people responded). Almost of the respondents gave more than one answer regarding the content they would want. It’s not particularly scientific, but I’ve roughly classified them.

Study information is clearly of great interest to many of the respondees.

Some other content was identified; clear information on which universities, and projects, we currently collaborate with, research at Lund and how you apply. There’s a mixture of generic answers and issues important for the target group.

When the site is up, we’ll email the respondees again and ask them to take a look at the site and give us feedback.

You can see all the answers from the Questback survey here.

It’s not your fault – it’s the website which sucks

‘If your users fail, your website fails’ is an excellent article by Scott Karp – the premise being that there ‘are no stupid users, only inadequate designs’.

The obsession with a website’s ‘look’ rather than its ability to deliver is something which I get annoyed about. ‘Take a look at Craigslist‘ I say ‘Pretty crappy design huh? Well, Alexa ranks that site as 56th in the world and it has 9 billion page views a month‘.

Google Analytics Tracking Code – Making our pdfs work better

I’ve been experimenting with adding tracking code to links in pdfs, with the aim of learning more about how they are being used. Simply put – we get a better return on the money we invest in them.

Before I began working at the university I was anti Pdf for the usual reasons (it’s dull, hard to read and is usually print content, rather than scannable text. Here’s Nielsen’s thoughts on the subject) but, after interviewing students and checking out our web metrics I’ve changed my mind. When it comes to brochures and course descriptions, for example, the students are okay with pdf.

Our Master’s Brochure was viewed over 25 000 times in the last 7 months. This makes it one of the most popular documents on our website. I was stunned when I saw this, particularly as our online marketing of this has been relatively passive.

So I got to thinking (which can be dangerous). We print something like 10 000 brochures, at significant expense, but it’s an act of faith as to whether they work or not. We’ve shown them to student reference groups – who liked them – but once they are out there they drop off our radar. We don’t know how many students try to learn more about the programmes the brochure describes, how many visit the website as a result or how many begin the application process. We don’t know if the money we spend is worth the result!

With some clever tagging on the links in the pdf we can find out more about how the pdf is used. We can see how many people come back to our website and which programmes receive the most interest. We get segmentation data as we can drill down through the data to a country level. This kind of data means we not only can test how well the pdf works in encouraging people to come to our website but it also generates valuable data, about potential students, in an easy and cheap way.

Correction: 7th July 2008. Okay, I admit it. I got a bit ahead of myself. Tracking the pdf itself is one thing – and can be done – but tracking the links within the downloaded pdf is another thing entirely. One way to do it would be to give a vanity URL in the document, one which does not exist anywhere else, and track the visitors that come from that link. Here’s some stuff about tracking offline campaigns at Conversion University.

I’ll post more on this when I’ve researched it more – if you’ve any good ideas please feel free to leave a comment.

Here’s some more from GA help on tagging

Here’s the URL builder