The education sector is becoming increasingly internationalised. Between 1990 and 2014, the number of international university graduates increased from 1.3 to 5 million globally, a trend that also applies to adult education and distance learning. Although digitalisation is a major driver, the trend for colleges and universities to establish branches in other countries also figures.
Sweden is currently a relatively minor figure on the international education market, and the proportion of foreign students in Swedish educational institutions has stagnated. One factor is probably the low level of private supplementary funding of education services, and the fact that Sweden has few privately operated universities.
In global terms, the number of international branches of universities increased threefold between 2000 and 2015, and competition for talented young students is intensifying. The advantages of universities that succeed in attracting numerous international students are manifold: tuition fees contribute to revenue, although what is probably more important is the opportunity to increase the pool of talent that can enhance university research and innovation.
At the same time, global demand for private education services is increasing, particularly in fast-growing nations such as China and India, where private education is becoming increasingly commonplace amongst the middle classes. Here, a country like Sweden with its extensive experience of pre-school services and adult education could have an important role to play Australia
and Taiwan are two examples of countries with significant exports of education services. In Australia, education services, with over half a million paying students, is the nation’s third largest export industry.
Sweden appears to be lacking a strategy and the political willingness to allow education exports to grow. This also applies to the establishment of university branches in Sweden.
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