Tuition fees move focus to Europe

Lost students to be recovered closer to home

Published Apr 19, 2010

Plans are taking shape to recover the students that will be lost as a result of the introduction of student fees. More students from Europe and a reduced number of educational programmes is the joint strategy from the schools that are affected the most, this includes ICT, ABE and ITM.

Losses will be considerable in the beginning. We all agree on that. But what happens afterwards and what the effects of the new system will be as regards student fees for foreign students for KTH is still unclear. Much depends on the initiatives which the schools and KTH are now planning.

For Carl-Gustaf Jansson vice Dean of ICT (the School of Information and Communication Technology), the decision on student fees did not exactly come as a surprise, the question was mainly when it would come.

“We have been preparing ourselves for one and a half years and we expect a loss of students in the beginning. It is impossible to say how big this loss will be, but we are working on an impact assessment,” he says.

At ICT, approximately 300 non-European students start their studies every year, and in the future they must pay a fee if they want to study at KTH. Some units will be affected more by the decision and the number of applications will most likely fall. Less competition will result in an impairment to the student base.

Easier with bigger courses

Together with central KTH, ICT will work on an action programme to mitigate the losses. The school will focus particularly on simplifying the programme structure at Master’s level, by reducing the number of programmes and courses. In a downturn, fewer but larger courses are easier to handle.

The number of European students will not be affected by the decision and there are now plans to attempt to acquire more students from Europe via more intensive marketing, with marketing in particular directed towards Germany. Seeing as KTH also participates in EIT (The European Institute of Technology), we hope therefore to become more attractive to European students.

“Increasing the number of bilateral agreements within and outside of Europe, is also a route to take. We are also investing in more Erasmus students, aiming especially at the new European countries in Eastern Europe,” says Carl-Gustaf Jansson.

The scholarship funds which the state is going to hand out are insignificant in relation to the number of students. Perhaps other parties can go in and create scholarship funds just for KTH, he means.

The School of Industrial Engineering and Management (ITM) also has many non-European students, particularly within the Master’s programmes for industrial production, energy engineering and industrial ecology. This includes 20 to 30 teacher appointments, or in monetary terms between SEK 30-35 million per year, which may come into question.

Competition with the USA

“We will not be making anybody redundant but we will instead try to find new solutions and new students which will replace the students that are not coming. You have to love your problems in order to be able to solve them, says Bengt Lindberg, Dean of ITM School.

Initially, we are expecting a major loss in students, he says.

“At every management group meeting we discuss how we can recruit new students. The number of applications is high today, both at Master’s level and for graduate engineering courses.

Students come from Pakistan, South East Asia and Africa and often have their own financing from home to pay for their living expenses.

“We do not know what will happen. Perhaps they will apply to Stanford or MIT instead of to KTH in the future. But we are trying to remain one step ahead in order to create opportunities,” he says.

The school has plans to extend its cooperation with the countries in the Baltic, Germany and France. Marketing may take place via the contacts the school already has today in the world, for example via the visiting professors from Sweden, in China in particular, says Bengt Lindberg.

Elimination of programmes

Stellan Lundström, the dean of ABE School relates that the school has around ten Master’s programmes, of which a couple are almost exclusively for students that come from outside of Europe. All in all, it may make up about 10% of the total budget for basic level educations.

Certain programmes will be eliminated, he believes. The number of programmes has swelled over the years and must now be reduced.

ABE School has decided to employ a public relations officer to make the school more well known abroad.

“We must become more active on the market and make ourselves more visible. When our Chinese students were applying to come here, we may have missed the local students and those coming from Europe. It is those we must concentrate on now” says Stellan Lundström.

Double examinations

One idea is to be able to offer two degrees for European students, both in their home country and in Sweden, to make them more motivated. But all initiatives require time, work and resources.

“What is required quite simply is another approach when students are no longer queuing up to get here. In Denmark, all of the students disappeared during the first year. We have to be smarter so that people choose us instead of for example the USA.

Stellan Lundström believes that there may be a culture shock for KTH when the number of students arrive with SEK 100,000 in cash. Another culture is therefore needed, another type of service mindedness and organisation. The students must be followed up and perhaps they need help with their career planning. This is what many foreign universities do today, Stellan Lundström means.


Text: Eva Ekelöf