Foreign PHD students to get green card says Swedish Minister
If the bill being pushed by Migration Minister Tobias Billström will be approved, then foreign PhD students can apply for permanent residence after being employed as researcher for four years.
The news is a victory for students with non-EU backgrounds, as current laws give them a very slim chance of staying in Sweden after they defend their thesis. However, some members of Facebook page ‘Equality for foreign PhDs in Sweden’ said they will not be satisfied ‘until [the bill] is approved.’
According to Statistics Sweden, there are around 5,000 foreign PhD students as of 2013. Many of them have been showing their dissatisfaction with education policies in the country by protesting on the streets. One page member commented ‘It is a pity that these highly-skilled scholars need to hit the streets to ask for their rights!’
Student Union Association Vice Chairman Erik Pedersen said ‘PhD students work and contribute to the universities’ research. To consider what they do as not being equal to other employees means you value their work differently.’
Many who are backing proposals to improve students’ opportunities in Sweden said updating laws to support foreign students will improve the country’s competitiveness globally. The union’s PhD Committee Head Johan Svantesson Sjöberg added ‘You’ve thrown people out for no reason. It’s bad for the individual, but also bad for Sweden.’
Sweden’s education rules for foreign students have been receiving criticism in recent years. In January, various education stakeholders wrote an open letter to asking government to improve employment and residence opportunities for foreign students.