Report: Researchers less likely to stay in Sweden after new policy


In July 2021 the Swedish parliament passed a new migration legislation, which contains a new maintenance requirement for those who wish to obtain permanent residency. Specifically, an applicant must show they have an employment contract lasting for at least 18 months from the day the migration agency issues its decision. With this new maintenance requirement the future of Sweden’s attractiveness to international researchers has been challenged.

The report

Since the legislation was passed, there has been an outpouring of criticism from students, the education sector and employer organisations. To gauge the potential impact of the legislation, SFS-DK in collaboration with multiple partners have carried out a survey among doctoral students and early career researchers.

The survey was conducted by Sveriges Förenade Studentkårers doktorandkommité (SFS-DK), Doktorandsektionen vid Tekniska Högskolans Studentkår (KTH PhD Chapter), the Swedish Network of Postdoc Associations (SNPA), and the National Junior Faculty (NJF) between 16th of November 2021 and 31st of January, 2022. It was distributed via email lists and social media.


Individuals affected by the new legislation perceive the impact to be large and, in light of these recent changes, are now less likely to remain in Sweden. 

• Moving forward, this may impact the number of international students and researchers wanting to study or work in Sweden in the first place. 

• Loss of the most highly educated individuals will also affect other sectors, such as industry as argued by the Confederation of Swedish Enterprise. 

• Doctoral students and ECRs perceive Swedish language skills as important to their future career in Sweden, however, the majority find it challenging to learn Swedish with the time and resources they have available. 

Based on this we recommend that:

• An exception in the maintenance requirement of the new migration legis lation be made for doctoral students and researchers. 

• The possibilities for doctoral students and ECRs to learn Swedish are strengthened and that the current possibilities for learning Swedish while employed in academia are mapped. 

The report is available in both Swedish and English below.