Differentiate or Die – Brian Niles says it how it is.

Brian Niles has a real pithy article on his blog about the affect of the financial crisis on student recruitment at American Universities. Here’s a typically punchy quote which will give you a taste of the article:

“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.

Common global practice is to send applications to the university – Not the case 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.

National Application System Delays Visa Applications

At least 200 students could be late starting their master programmes at Lund, according to an article published on the 23rd of August in Sydsvenkan. The main points of the article are:

- 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.

Finland Likely To Charge Tuition Fees To International Students in 2010

It looks like Finland will follow Sweden by introducing tuition fees in the next few years, according to the Finnish newspaper Helsingen Sanomat, and translated at The Chronicle of Higer Education.

The main points of the article:

- Finland will probably introduce fees in 2010 (the same time as in Sweden)

- Fees would be set by the universities, but in the range of 3,500 to 12 000 EURO

- There are 450 programmes, taught in English, in Finland which will probably be affected

Interesting times…

You can see all my posts on fees in Sweden here.

Students Familiar with Sweden are More Likely to Pay Fees – Swedish Institute Report

A recent report from the Swedish Institute shows that the willingness of international students to pay fees depends on how well they know Sweden. According to the survey, 47% of the students – who had expressed in interest in Sweden -  would still recommend Sweden as a study destination, even if there was a fee. The report was published in July 2008.

The study shows that the more students know about Sweden, the more actively they will seek out knowledge and the more disposed they are to paying a fee.

A couple of thoughts – firstly, the more barriers we place in that attempt to seek out knowledge the more likely they are not to choose Sweden – our website must help them quickly and efficiently. Also, if knowledge about Sweden contributes to students being more positive to studying here then existing exchange students, who have studied as undergraduates in Sweden, may well be positive to studying in Sweden again. It would be interesting to find out the current conversion of undergraduate exchange students to master students.

This is the report in Swedish.

Tuition Fees in Sweden in 2010 – What do you think?

From 2010 onwards the Swedish government wants international students to pay tuition fees when they study in Sweden – the proposal will probably be passed in the Autumn of this year. 

Students who have already begun studying, or are applying in the application periods starting in 2008 or 2009, will not pay fees.

You can see all my entries tagged as fees here.

The entries on my blog about fees have been very popular and I’d like to learn what you think about paying tuition fees in Sweden. For example, will it affect your choice of Sweden as a study destination? Would you still recommend Sweden to your friends? What information do you need to have?

Please leave your comments below, thanks!

Earlier Application Date Could Attract Students to Lund University

An earlier application date could attract international students to Lund University, according to an article published today in Sydsvenskan(a Swedish broadsheet).

The key points of the article are:

- Tomas Brage, an international coordinator from the Physics department at Lund, believes an earlier application deadline in the Autumn would enable Lund University to compete with other universities which have similar application deadlines; Lund’s deadline is later than most other universities

- Tomas Brage believes it is important to attract international students to Lund because they bring knowledge to the University and remain in Sweden, after their studies, to work

- Per Warfvinge, the vicerektor of the Engineering Faculty at Lund, believes an earlier application date would create difficulties as the course content would have to be decided earlier

- Per Warfvinge does not think that the later application date which Lund currently uses is a problem but does think that the number of applications to Lund, from international students, could change with the introduction of fees but that it is hard to say right now

The original article was published on Monday 14th July, in Swedish, and written by Max Jerneck. The translation is my own and I apologise for any mistakes.

See all my recent entries about fees…

The next application period, for masters programmes at Lund University will begin in December 2008 and end in February 2009. This is for programmes beginning in the fall 2009. There are currently no indications that students applying for programmes beginning in 2009 will pay fees during the course of their studies. However, the final decision on fees, and their implementation, will not be known until later this year.

Tuition Fees: English Summary of the Swedish Government’s Investigation

If you take a look at the english summary on pages 13-16 of the Swedish Government’s 2006 investigation into fees you can get an overview of their possible thinking with regard to tuition fees. Remember that this report was prepared by the last government so it may not reflect the the thinking of the current one.

The key points are (and remember these are only suggestions, not law – we’ll have to wait until the Autumn to see what will definitely happen)

- Fees will be for under and post graduate education, but not for PhD students

- Fees will be fixed by each university, at a ‘limited’ number of levels

- Students who will be exempt from paying will include: citizens from EEA countries, people with Swedish residence permits, students in an exchange programme and citizens of countries that have entered into free movement agreements with the EU (e.g. Switzerland)

- The right should exist for universities to charge application fees

- Work permit rules should be amended so that it is easier to remain in Sweden, to work, after graduation

- Scholarship funding should be increased

The Government press release from last week.