Measures to make Swedish universities more international – checklist presented to the government

18 July 2016

Uppsala University, SUHF and the Swedish Institute have produced a checklist of measures to further the internationalisation of Swedish universities. The list was presented to the government as part of a debate on the internationalisation of higher education and research during this year’s Almedalen Week.

Almedalen Week is organised every July in Visby on the island of Gotland. It has grown into Sweden’s largest democratic forum. The many participants include researchers from Uppsala University. During Almedalen Week, a large number of seminars and other activities are organised that revolve around contemporary societal issues. As part of a very well-attended debate on the internationalisation of higher education and research, the government was presented with a checklist for internationalisation from Uppsala University, SUHF and the Swedish Institute.

Uppsala University has become a natural part of Almedalen Week over the last few years – not least owing to Uppsala University Campus Gotland.

‘Uppsala University takes an active interest in societal development, and Almedalen Week is an important arena for public debate. Uppsala University strives to be a prominent actor in collaborations for a better world. Our broad and strong research and education include activities with great relevance for sustainable development, human health and societal progress,’ Vice-Chancellor Eva Åkesson said.

As usual, Uppsala University offered a rich programme for Almedalen Week 2016. Some 30 seminars were organised on the premises of Campus Gotland. The reception of refugees and social inclusion were two of the highly topical subjects discussed by researchers at Uppsala University. Other interesting seminars arranged by the University revolved around problems stemming from addiction to drugs, violence and gambling, but also around sustainable development, environmental protection, and democracy in the Baltic Sea region.

At a very well-attended debate on the internationalisation of higher education and research, the government was presented with a checklist for internationalisation from Uppsala University, SUHF, and the Swedish Institute. The Swedish Minister for Higher Education and Research, Helen Hellmark Knutsson, also participated in the debate. The eight-item list was produced in anticipation of the government inquiry on the internationalisation of universities and other higher education institutions which is set to be presented this autumn.

Few Swedish students go abroad for their studies, and diminishing numbers of foreign students are coming to Sweden. The introduction of study fees for third-country students also resulted in a substantial decline, albeit one that is now turning around. How is Sweden doing as a knowledge nation? Vice-Chancellor Eva Åkesson asked this of the Almedalen Week panel, which also included Minister for Higher Education and Research, Helen Hellmark Knutsson.

In front of a packed hall, with an audience of more than 100, several representatives of higher education institutions attempted to answer how Sweden is actually doing as a knowledge nation, and, initially: what is the value of international students?

On the topic of Why is a greater degree of internationalisation so important?, a debate was held that included Anna-Karin Hatt, CEO Almega; Kenneth Macartney, Canada’s Ambassador to Sweden, and Eva Wiberg, Vice-Chancellor of Lund University.

On the topic of How can universities and higher education institutions become more international?, the discussion involved Helene Hellmark Knutsson, Minister for Higher Education and Research; Tobias Krantz, Manager for Education, Research, and Innovation at the Confederation of Swedish Enterprise; and Annika Söder, State Secretary for Political Affairs at the Ministry for Foreign Affairs.

To conclude the debate, a checklist was presented to the government – in anticipation of the inquiry on the internationalisation of higher education and research that is set to be completed this autumn. The checklist was signed SUHF (the Association of Swedish Higher Education), Uppsala University, and the Swedish Institute.

  • Increase the freedom of action for Swedish universities to participate in international partnerships within education, research, and innovation.
  • Simplify the rules and regulations surrounding study fees and mobility.
  • Establish a substantial scholarship programme for international students from third countries.
  • Allow Swedish universities to conduct activities outside of Sweden.
  • Improve international students’ and PhD students’ prospects of staying in Sweden.
  • Prioritise higher education and research in Sweden’s export strategy.
  • Assign the Swedish Institute the task of forcefully marketing Sweden as a study destination jointly with the universities.
  • Establish a form of external monitoring and analysis of international education and research that is well integrated with Swedish higher education institutions.


Facts about Almedalen Week

Almedalen Week has been organised on Gotland for more than 40 years. It all began in 1968 when the Minister for Education at the time, Olof Palme, gave a speech from the back of a truck by the Gunpowder Tower in Almedalen in Visby. The political speeches of the early years have evolved into Sweden’s largest political forum, which has also attracted international attention. Through democracy and openness, the week offers anyone interested a chance to participate in public debate on societal issues. The openness and accessibility of Almedalen Week is unique to Sweden. All events during the week are free of charge and open to the public. The political parties in the Riksdag are the core actors of Almedalen Week. Their participation with seminars, press conferences, and speeches from Almedalen form the basis of the week.

Almedalen Week has kept growing and evolving as the world’s largest democratic meeting ground. This year, close to 4,000 events revolving around societal issues were arranged by almost 2,000 organisations. Even more organisations are involved as participants in the events.

Read more about internationalisation at Uppsala University

Read more about Almedalen Week