european students’ union

SFS: Effects for doctoral students in Sweden after changes in migration act

October 30, 2021

Beginning to see the end of the corona pandemic we had hoped that this year we would get to focus on students conditions and quality of education. Instead, we have had to turn to the newly amended Swedish migration legislation, the Aliens Act, as it has severe consequences on the higher education sector and in particular on non-EU/EEA doctoral students.

With the changes in the Aliens Act, the applicant has to have long term or permanent employment in order to obtain permanent residence. And as many of us know – long term or permanent employment are but a fairytale for doctoral students and most other early career researchers. 

If doctoral students wish to stay in academia, they sign up for an extremely precarious career. The first 10-15 years of their careers will be on temporary contracts, often having to move countries. Choosing a career in academia becomes an extra obstacle in obtaining a permanent residency permit.  As doctoral education is an integral part of academia, all of the academia loses when doctoral education becomes less attractive for non-EU/EEA doctoral students. We rely on them not only for a lively research environment but also for a high-quality bachelor and master education. 

This is why we in SFS for the past two months have worked hard together with the rest of the sector on making the government address these issues and make an exception such that doctoral students and early career researchers are not worse off than others. There is still a long way to go – but some political parties have started to pick up the topic. 

If you wish to know more about the situation we recommend that you read the blogpost(s) our doctoral committee has written on the topic. They are in English and you can find them here and here. We would very much appreciate it if you shared with us how migration legislation looks in your country for non-EU/EEA citizens using this google form.

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