Internationalization Thought 1: Residence permit

Internationalization of higher education is an issue for all students. Many people choose or consider studying all or part of an education abroad, but for some that step feels too difficult. In other countries, many are considering traveling to Sweden to study, but there are significant obstacles to being able to take the step. But above all: all higher education has a more or less international character. How much value it has for the student, however, varies from education to education. The Swedish National Union of Students believes that the internationalization of higher education can and should be developed.

Last year, the government decided to investigate how the internationalization of the university should be strengthened. The inquiry recently presented the first of two reports. SFS will go through the most important proposals in a series of blog posts. This is the first part.

The inquiry's call: That the Swedish Migration Agency speeds up the processing times for admitted students who apply for a residence permit. The inquiry urges the Swedish Migration Agency to also cooperate with universities and colleges in matters concerning residence permits for incoming students.

The proposal is urgent. We often hear about students who are forced to wait far too long or stay denied residence permits of unclear grounds. Both the University Chancellor's Office and the Swedish University and College Association (SUHF) have raised this as a critical obstacle to recruiting more international students. The issue has also been discussed in the Riksdag. In addition, the European Students' Union is working at European level to improve the process of obtaining a residence permit as a way of promoting mobility.

The hassle of a residence permit leads to students say no to education in Sweden. Only one in three foreign applicants begins the education they have been admitted to. The hassle of obtaining a residence permit is a major obstacle to recruiting foreign students. In fact, tuition fees are the only major obstacle.

The main responsibility lies with the Swedish Migration Board. The Swedish Migration Agency has long processing times. The Swedish Migration Agency is responsible for ensuring that the examination goes correctly.

If the Swedish Migration Agency took help from the higher education institutions, the situation could be easier. The higher education institutions have the conditions to assess whether a prospective student intends to study. If a student receives an extended residence permit, the higher education institutions can see if a student actually studies and passes the exams. The higher education institutions know if their doctoral students are employed and do the job that is expected of them. But the higher education institutions can only simplify the process of residence permits if the Swedish Migration Board cooperates. SUHF has already shown that they want to contribute to such cooperation, so the conditions are there.

Should Sweden be able to attract more foreign students? The ball is in the court of Mikael Ribbenvik.

The next post is about establishment abroad, internationalization at home, official language and proposals for student organizations.