The most recent information from the Swedish Government says that the vote on the proposal for the internationalisation of higher education, which includes tuition fees for non-EU students, will take place on March 17th 2009.
The vote on tuition fees has been delayed until the spring of 2009, according to some very reliable sources. The date for the introduction of fees, should the vote pass (which it probably will) will probably be Autumn 2010.
So, more pain as we wait to see what happens with this. Hopefully we’ll get more information before the spring. What worries me is that this further reduces the amount of time we have to react to the bill, and its contents.
The reputation of Swedish universities will be seriously damaged if international students cannot get their residence permits considerably faster, said the Uppsala Nya Tidning today (in Swedish). This is the key message of a letter from Sweden’s universities to the Swedish government, continues the article, which also identifies Sweden’s embassies as struggling to process all the residence permit applications in time. An example of this was reported in Pakistan’s Daily Times, on November 3rd, which has a shocking article about 12 000 Pakistani students whose residence permits for Sweden have not been processed in time for the start of term, due to delays at the embassy.
The article continues by pointing out that education will no longer be ‘free’ in Sweden (from 2010) and that this issue becomes even more critical as a result. The article concludes by saying that in the last year the number of applicants has effectively doubled; further growth could place greater pressure on a system which – for some students at least – does not perform at all well.
“higher education is one of the most inefficiently run industries in the US”
He goes on to list what universities need to do to improve; this includes the need for differentiation, focus and leadership. If you know me, you can probably already guess where I’m going with this; not only do we need to consider the effect of the financial crisis on recruitment but we can also look at his suggestions in light of the impending announcement on fees in Sweden.
I have been recently writing a report regarding the effect tuition fees will have on the university. One of the reviewers was concerned that we will probably continue to use studera.nu as our application tool after the introduction of fees. This is despite that fact that most other universities, elsewhere in the world, handle applications for post graduate applications themselves.
The UK is a good example. Their online application system, UCAS, is for undergraduate applications. Post graduate applications, whether from national or international students, are handled by the university – usually at the faculty level. Why? Well, it means that the faculty has direct control over the process, rather than a third party being involved. An undergraduate application is about getting the right grades, a post graduate application is much more complex involving a more subtle assessment of grades, motivation and appropriateness of experience. Also, the recruitment process is a key part of conversion – do you really want to have that out of your control?
The University of Gothenburg’s School of Business, Economics and Law handles their own admissions – a distinct competitive advantage for them. They’ve already got an edge now, as their application period is almost a month longer than the new one from studera. Gothenburg can, no doubt, respond quickly to student enquiries and give rapid acceptance decisions. Studera.nu, on the other hand, will not even tell you if your documents have arrived.
– Applications for visas are still arriving to the migration authorities, despite term having started
– The online application system (studera.nu is part of this) delayed the application process by 3 weeks
– The migration authorities are already busy at this time of year
– Students who are late may not be admitted to their programme
– Approximately 200 of 1200 students may be late
– The problem could be relieved by only allowing applications to be made in December
These kind of issues so need to be sorted – not only for the students who are currently in limbo now but also for the future. Fee paying students will not tolerate these kind of delays. One point of view is, of course, that the number of applications will drop when fees are introduced which may ease the pressure on the system, but there’s still at least two application periods to go before fees are introduced.