Published: 26-01-2018 14:46 | Updated: 07-02-2018 11:42

Master’s students at KI at risk of deportation

A master’s student from China who has paid tuition fees for her education at Karolinska Institutet has been denied a renewed residence permit for her fourth and final term. The Swedish Migration Agency considers that the student cannot prove that she can support herself and therefore has to leave the country within four weeks.

“The situation for third-country guest students has changed dramatically since tuition fees were introduced. The rules for residence permits now need to be adapted so that paying students with approved academic results can be granted a residence permit for the whole of the study period,” says Per Bengtsson, University Director at KI.

Since the autumn of 2017 around ten master's students at Karolinska Institutet (KI) from non-EU countries have received deportation notices. Most have appealed to the Migration Court but some are still waiting for a decision. The student who is now being deported has had her request to have her case reviewed by the Migration Court of Appeal refused. The question now is how the student will be able to complete her studies that she has already paid for.

“The situation has huge consequences, first and foremost for the affected students but also for KI’s and other educational institutions’ ability to attract international students and contribute to Sweden’s reputation as a leading knowledge nation,” Per Bengtsson continues.

In order to be granted a residence permit in Sweden the students, according to the Swedish Migration Agency's rules, need to be able to demonstrate that they have their own personal funds or, for example, through scholarships, to cover their living costs of SEK 8,064 a month for ten months. The Migration Agency’s reason for its refusal is that the students have not been able to prove that they have their own means of support to the required extent. So despite the students’ bank statements where money was available for their support, the Migration Agency considered that it is not credible that the funds are for them, but only temporarily deposited in the accounts.

“These students are usually supported by their parents or other relatives, which is natural because it is unusual for young people to have personal assets equivalent to between 500,000 and 600,000 kronor, which is the total cost for a student from a non-EU country to study a master’s programme at KI,” says Per Bengtsson.

KI has written to the Migration Agency and the Ministry of Education and Research about the matter and is working with other universities and the Swedish Institute to achieve a solution to the question of residence permits for studies.

Update 2 February 2018: The Swedish Migration Agency has now announced a change in their praxis

Text: Helena Mayer and Sabina Bossi

FACTS about tuition fees
The Ordinance (2010:543) on application fees and tuition fees at higher education institutions for students from outside the EU/EEA came into effect on 1 July 2010. The ordinance was applied for the first time on 1 August 2011. The term fee to study on one of the university's 9 global master’s programmes is about 90,000 kronor.