The Swedish Centre for Studies of the Internationalisation of Higher Education

Tuition Fees in Norway

With the imminent introduction of tuition fees for non-EEA students in Norwegian Higher Education, Mikael Börjesson and André Bryntesson were called upon to share their research on the Swedish tuition fee introduction in 2011. The presentation was held at a conference at OsloMet on April 20, 2023, and a recording of the complete conference can be found at OsloMet (SIHE presentation starts at 1:08:00 in part 2).


Webinar on Nordic Erasmus+ study

On November 2, 2022, Ashley Haru along with co-authors André Bryntesson and Mikael Börjesson presented their study on Nordic outbound exchange students on a webinar organised by the government agencies in charge of the Erasmus+ programme in the Nordic countries. The webinar specifically targeted Erasmus+ professionals at Nordic higher education institutions and was attended by 75 participants.

Watch the full webinar on Vimeo (skip to the second video in the playlist) or read the full presentation as PDF.

Tuition fees for non-EEA students in Norway?

In the government budget for 2023, the Norwegian government har proposed an introduction of tuition fees for international students originating outside the EU/EEA. André Bryntesson from SIHE was interviewed by Khrono, a Norwegian news outlet for higher education and research, regarding the Swedish tuition fee introduction. Additionally, University World News wrote about the impact of tuition fees in Sweden, featuring interviews with Bryntesson as well as Jerôme Rickmann, who has previously been a visiting scholar at SIHE.

SIHE report on Nordic Erasmus+ students published

In collaboration with national agencies in all five Nordic countries, Ashley Haru and her co-authors have conducted a comparative study of outbound Nordic Erasmus+ students in higher education, based on full-population surveys and national data. Although the Nordic countries and their Higher Education systems share common features, there are also clear differences between them, as well as between their students in terms of their characteristics and the use they make of the Erasmus+ programme.

The report explores these similarities and differences, and tries to understand them in relation to factors such as the historical development of each country's ecucation system, historical mobility patterns, language learning, the size and educational offer domestically as well as each country's student finance schemes for local students as well as for those abroad. These factors are discussed in order to try to understand varying participation rates, different geographical mobility patterns as well as similarities and differences in terms of motivations and experiences of Erasmus+ students from the different countries.

The students differ mainly along the line of cultural and academic orientations towards their Erasmus+ participation. While some students take part mainly in order to experience another country, city, culture and language, others use the Erasmus+ programme in order to access what they percieve as attractive educational opportunities, often at more prestigious HEIs. These differences in what we term orientations also correspond to the students' geographical destinations and partly also to their level of overall satisfaction with the programme participation.

The full report can be downloaded here.

Upcoming book on student migration

SIHE is pleased to announce that our associate researcher Mette Ginnerskov-Dahlberg's book Student Migration from Eastern to Western Europe will be publish at Routledge later this year.

This book makes an extremely valuable and timely intervention into increasingly vibrant debates around the internationalisation of higher education and international student mobility. Drawing on longitudinal ethnographic fieldwork over a number of years to construct the experiences and narratives of students, the book proffers a compelling and original argument around their mobility from Eastern to Western Europe. It is a must-read for all scholars working in this area. - Johanna L. Waters, Professor of Human Geography, University College London, UK

Book launch: World Class Universities

We are happy to announce the release the anthology World Class Universities - A Contested Concept, wherein Mikael Börjesson and Pablo Lillo Cea authored the chapter "World Class Universities, Rankings and the Global Space of International Students". Edited by Sharon Rider, Michael A. Peters, Mats Hyvönen and Tina Besley, the book approaches the concept and discourse around World Class Universities from different fields, including philosophy and media studies, as well as sociology, anthropology, educational theory. It is published Open Access at Springer.

Presentation at the digital conference Kvalitetsdrivet 2020

While Sweden has for several decades worked actively to widen participation in higher education, it is only in recent years that the topic has been highlighted within international student mobility. At the conference Kvalitetsdrivet, organised by UHR, Miklael Börjesson and André Bryntesson presented results from their recent report on the social background of Swedish Erasmus+ participants. In the same session, Anders Ahlstrand from UHR presented results from the joint report by UHR and CSN on the social background of both freemover and exchange students from Sweden abroad. The digital session is available on Youtube.

Report mapping social selectivity in Erasmus+ participation

On behalf of the Swedish Council for Higher Education, SIHE has conducted a study on the social background of Swedish outbound Erasmus+ students. The authors André Bryntesson and Mikael Börjesson show that there is an overrepresentation of students from wealthier and more highly educated families among Swedish Erasmus+ participants, despite their beneficial economic conditions.

The study also shows that this overrepresentation is mostly due to the strong connection between social background on one hand, and study achievements and choices of field of study on the other. When grades and field of study are held constant, the positive effect on higher social background on participation is rather marginal.

The report is written in Swedish with a summary in English. 

Report on tuition fees and student flows

On June 17, 2019, Delmi published the report Internationella studenter i Sverige: Avgiftsreformens påverkan på inflödet av studenter, written by André Bryntesson and Mikael Börjesson at SIHE.

It maps the changes in the inflow of students and the composition of the third country student population in Sweden that took place in relation to the tuition fee introduction, and discusses these changes in relation to political aims.

The report is written in Swedish but has an English summary, and can be found at Delmi's website.

Nordic-Baltic Migration Conference 2019

André Bryntesson from SIHE was invited to speak on the topic of international student recruitment and retention in Sweden at the Nordic-Baltic Migration Conference 2019 in Tallinn. The conference gained some media publicity, since student migration has been a controversial topic during the past year in Estonia, along with migration in general.

The whole conference was recorded (SIHE-presentation at 2:20:00), interviews were screened on Estonian national television and the event also received newspaper coverage. Photo: Annika Haas.

Global Super Wednesday 2018

On November 7, SIHE and Uppsala University International Office jointly hosted the yearly Global Super event, this time on a Wednesday in the Uppsala University main building. As per usual, SIHE arranged a research oriented track, in parallel with the other tracks for prospective mobile students and administrators.

André Bryntesson spoke about the economic rationales behind the Swedish tuition fee system, while visiting PhD Candidate Jérôme Rickmann gave an account of his project where he investigates how Swedish universities as organisations reacted to the implementation of tuition fees. Christin Mays, PhD Candidate in Sociology of Education, gave historical accounts of mobile scholars in the Swedish-American exchange scholarship programmes during the 20th century. Professor Mikael Börjesson later summarised results from a DELMI-report of scholarship holders in the Visby-programme, which is financed by the Swedish Institute and targets incoming mobile students from certain countries who study in Sweden.

To provide a Nordic perspective, Visiting PhD Candidate Mette Ginnerskov Dahlberg presented the thesis she will soon defend, where she followed and interviewed students from Eastern Europe studying in Denmark. With both a presentation and a keynote, Associate Professor Jannecke Wiers-Jenssen offered insights into the recently initiated MOBILITY project, as well as into the debate about international students and tuition fees in Norway.

SIHE wish to give thanks to all presenters, as well as to everyone participating in the event. We hope to see you again next year!

Report by UHR and SIHE on Swedish outbound Erasmus+ students

Today UHR published a report written by André Bryntesson, Mikael Börjesson and Ashley Haru at SIHE. The report explores the motivations, experiences and personal development of Swedish exchange students participating in the Erasmus+ programme, and is based on a unique dataset from an obligatory programme survey overseen by the European Commission of the whole population of outbound Swedish Erasmus+ students during calls 2014 and 2015. The patterns in motivations, experiences and personal development among students are also put in relation to the students' geographical destination, as well as their home and destination institutions and field of study.

On a general level, the results show that students who were more concerned with the quality, learning offer and reputation of the institution than with its geographical location when choosing to study abroad were among those most satisfied with the exchange period. These academically oriented students were overrepresented in other Nordic countries, as well as at selected institutions in France and Milan. Similarly, students aiming to improve their position on the labour market were also overrepresented among those most satisfied with their studies abroad.

The students who differed the most from the academically oriented students tended to be more culturally oriented and chose their destination based on its specific geographical location, the language spoken there and its culture. These students were overrepresented at institutions in Spain and France, as well as at a few institutions in the UK and Berlin. Students who studied abroad in countries around the Mediterranean, as well as in Eastern Europe, were somewhat less satisfied and more frequently encountered problems such as administrative issues.

Read more about the report and download it at UHR's website (English translation available).

Lectures and workshop: Internationalisation of education

During the visit to Uppsala by Maggi Leung, Associate Professor at Utrecht University, and Johanna Waters, Reader in Geography and Migration Studies at the University College of London, Honorary Research Associate and Fellow at the University of Oxford – both prominent scholars in the field of the internationalisation of education and academic mobility – SEC and SIHE are jointly organising lectures as well as a research workshop.


Time: Wednesday, September 12, 2018, 13.15-16.00
Venue: Blåsenhus, room 13:340

Johanna Waters: International Higher Education and Student (Im)mobilities

Maggi Leung: Chinese and European Linkages in International Education: 
Trends, Geographies and Embodied Experience

Workshop: Internationalisation of education

Time: Thursday, September 13, 2018, 10:15–15:00
Venue: Scandic Uplandia, Dragarbrunnsgatan 32

A detailed schedule of the workshop can be obtained here.

Opinion piece based on study

Based on the findings in a study of the participants in a government funded scholarship programme for international students published by DELMI, Andreas Åkerlund draws the conclusion that the programme mainly serves the purpose of public diplomacy, while it has a very weak connection to the Swedish labour market.

Only a quarter of the participants remained in Sweden, while half of them returned to their home country. For the rest, Sweden became a stepping stone from which they moved on, mainly to other Western European countries or the United States.

The article is published in "Dagens Samhälle"

DELMI report on academic mobility

Andreas Åkerlund and Astrid Collsiöö have together with Professor Mikael Börjesson at SIHE authored a report now published by the government agency The Migration Studies Delegation (DELMI). The aim of the study was to investigate the composition and migration trajectories of participants in a government funded scholarship programme for international students over time, and to explore their motives, experiences and later connections to Sweden.

Two of the main findings are that the composition of the student group in terms of origin and study subject has been heavily influenced by the political aims with the scholarship programme which have changed over time, and that a significant proportion of the students end up working in countries other than Sweden or their country of origin after their studies in Sweden.

The full report, including a summary in English on page vii, can be found at DELMI's website.

SIHE at Kvalitetsdrivet 2018

On April 18, Professor Mikael Börjesson held a keynote presentation at the conference Kvalitetsdrivet, organised by the Swedish Council for Higher Education (UHR). The topic of the talk was which students go abroad and which ones stay at home.

Mikael Börjesson's presentation in Swedish can be found at UHR´s website

SIHE:s project coordinator Ashley Haru also presented results from a UHR-report on efforts to widen participation in higher education in Canada.

Ashley Haru's presentation in English can be found at UHR´s website

The MOBILITY Project has been granted funding

We at SIHE are glad to announce that the project International Student Mobility: Drivers, Patterns, and Impacts, directed by Jannecke Wiers-Jenssen, has been granted funding from the Norwegian Research Council.

The main research questions of the MOBILITY project are:

·What are the drivers of student mobility to and from Norway? How are national and international policies, institutional strategies and practices, and market mechanisms interrelated?
·How are students’ preferences, practices, and outcomes shaped by background and contextual factors?
·What are the impacts of mobility, for students, graduates, and HEIs? To what extent are these in line with policy rationales and expectations?
·How are national and institutional strategies and aims for mobility implemented and experienced in teacher programmes?

The MOBILITY project is a cooperation between the Nordic Institute for Studies in Innovation, Research and Education (NIFU) and two units at Oslo and Akerhus College of Applied Sciences (HiOA): Centre for the Study of Professions (SPS) and Department of Public Administration and Leadership at the Faculty of Social Sciences. 

The Department of Education at Uppsala University serves as an international partner to the core researchers from NIFU and HiOA mentioned above as the department has an ongoing project on professional qualification in teacher education, financed by the Swedish Research Council. Emil Bertilsson will act as a core researcher in the area of ISM in teacher education, and Mikael Börjesson at SIHE will serve as a member of the advisory board along with other distinguished international experts such as Rachel Brooks (University of Surrey), Peter Maassen (University of Oslo), Christof van Mol (Tillburg University), Laura Rumbley (Boston College), and Jussi Välimaa (University of Jyväskylä).

The MOBILITY project is timely not only for the Norwegian context where this has both policy and practical relevance, but also for the international research community in this field, to further current analytical understandings of how one can conceptualise ISM beyond heuristics that map different rationales or push and pull factors, which have primarily had relevance for market driven systems.

SIHE at the MOVE Conference in Luxembourg

SIHE held two presentations at the MOVE Conference in Luxembourg, March 7–9 2018.

André Bryntesson (image below) presented the first SIHE-report, discussing the economic logic behind the Swedish tuition fee system for third country students.

Ashley Haru presented preliminary results from a geometric data analysis comparing the flows of Erasmus students with those of freemover students in the Erasmus-countries.

SIHE Report: The Economic Logic of the Swedish Tuition Fee System

Title: Det svenska studieavgiftssystemets ekonomiska logik. En kritisk diskussion
(The Economic Logic of the Swedish Tuition Fee System. A Critical Discussion)

Author: André Bryntesson

Since the autumn of 2011, free-mover students originating from outside the EU/EEA-area who study at Swedish higher education institutions have to pay tuition fees. These fees are generally set based on the average cost for tuition, plus expenses related to administration and universities' marketing abroad. The explicit goal of the system is mainly to maintain high levels of so-called third country students, while relieving Swedish tax payers from the economic burden of providing them with free education.

Based on this political goal, a new SIHE-report critically reviews some of the economic principles on which the level of fees are based, and claims that fees could potentially be set significantly lower if they were to be calculated differently.

Firstly, setting fees based on the marginal cost of providing tuition for an additional minority of international students, instead of the average cost of tuition for all students, would result in lower fee levels.

Secondly, tax revenue generated by the incoming students' expenses for accommodation and subsistence could be taken into account when setting fee levels.

Thirdly, if the high tax revenue generated by the minority of third country students who integrate into the Swedish labour market after graduation were also taken into account, the benefit of receiving international students may even outweigh the cost of providing the group as a whole with free tuition, based on estimates in previous studies. If the aim is for third country students as a collective to inflict no cost on Swedish tax payers, it is therefore possible that charging them for the tuition may be superfluous. Such long term effects are, however, much more complex to analyse and predict.

At the same time, the discussion casts doubt on whether the current tuition fee system also fulfils the hopes of a more quality-centred competition between Swedish and foreign universities, by removing the advantage of free tuition. The main problem here is not that fee levels could be set lower, but that they are already too low.

The fact that Swedish tuition fees are tied to the cost structure of the university instead of being a product of supply and demand means that there are two problems related to, in particular, more prestigious institutions. On the one hand, the choice to study in Sweden may still be based on economic considerations rather than on the perceived quality of teaching and research, since the Swedish tuition fees are still much lower than those of many foreign prestigious institutions. The fees thus fail to produce a quality-centred competition. On the other hand, some students may instead choose to study elsewhere since the lower fees in Sweden can easily be taken as an indication of inferior quality.

Opening Ceremony for SIHE



On Tuesday the 7th of November, Uppsala University's Vice Chancellor Eva Åkesson inaugurated the Swedish Centre for Studies of the Internationalisation of Higher Education (SIHE), in connection to the celebration of the ERASMUS-programme's 30th anniversary. The centre is intended to act as a node for research and analysis, both on a local, national and international level. It is also meant to be a platform for collaboration with external actors such as government agenices in posession of relevant data and in need of analytical expertise.

The opening ceremony was preceded by an internationalisation fair and a series of lectures on the internationalisation of higher education and opportunities for students to study abroad. Professor Mikael Börjesson, André Bryntesson and Ashley Haru, who make up the permanent staff at the centre, presented preliminary results from an ongoing research project on Swedish ERASMUS+-students in collaboration with the Swedish Council for Higher Education (UHR).

– Research on the internationalisation of education is for some reason lacking in Sweden, despite the intense efforts to internationalise Swedish universities and trying to make them attractive in the competition for international students. Much of the research that is conducted, however, stems from Uppsala University, and we also have collaborations with several government agencies dealing with the issue. Therefore it feels natural to gather this research and these collaborations within a more formal centre, says Mikael Börjesson, Professor in Sociology of Education and Scientific Leader at the new centre.

Last modified: 2023-11-23