21 September 2011
Ministry of Education and Research
Major investments in education in the Budget Bill
The Budget Bill contains major investments in education. These include a maths boost with continuing professional development for teachers, a teacher reform with career stages for good teachers, a quality drive in humanities and social sciences at higher education institutions, and more places on training programmes for doctors, dentists and nurses. More places will also be available on Master of Science in Engineering programmes.
Below is a description of the most important reforms in the area of education in this autumn's budget.
Higher status for the teaching profession and improved skills in schools
To break the downward trend in learning outcomes among Swedish pupils, it is necessary to strengthen teachers' skills and the status of the teaching profession. In the Budget Bill, SEK 3.8 billion has been allocated for the years 2012-2015 to strengthen teachers' skills and raise the status of the teaching profession.
Career development reform
The Government is allocating funds for a career development reform, with advancement stages for professionally skilled teachers in compulsory and upper secondary school. The advancement stages, together with any qualifications required, will be described in the Education Act. Salaries and terms of employment will be set by the parties in the usual way. The state will cover the costs incurred by education authorities through the reform in the form of government grants.
Boost for Teachers II
Boost for Teachers II is being introduced. This is an investment in continuing professional development, which will mean that teachers who have accreditation but are not qualified in one of the subjects or for one of the year groups they teach will be offered education to meet the qualification requirements.
Continuing professional development funds for vocational teachers
The Government is allocating special continuing professional development funds for vocational teachers to offer them the opportunity to regularly take part in practical activities in workplaces within their subject area.
Further education for unqualified teachers
For the period 2012-2014, SEK 400 million has been allocated for further training of unqualified teachers so that they can complete their teaching qualification. Higher education institutions may credit applicants for previous teaching experience and offer individualised programmes.
Research institutes for teachers
A number of higher education institutions organise research institutes for teachers. For the period 2012-2014, SEK 200 million has been allocated for the education programmes themselves and some of the education authorities' costs for a teacher's salary. This way we can get more teachers with postgraduate degrees into the education system.
Quality drive for higher pay for school-based teaching practice as part of teacher training
To improve the quality of teacher training programmes, remuneration for school-based teaching practice is estimated to increase by SEK 94 million. Of these funds, SEK 40 million is new for teacher training and SEK 54 million is redistributed from other parts of teacher training.
Redistribution of places in teacher training between various higher education institutions
Places on education programmes are to be redistributed from higher education institutions that have not been granted authorisation to award degrees for the various specialisations of the new teacher training programme to higher education institutions that have passed the quality assessment of the Swedish National Agency for Higher Education and have the capacity to take on more teacher training students. Therefore, the total number of teacher training places will not be reduced, despite the fact that a number of higher education institutions have lost their authorisation to award degrees and thus their right to provide teacher training.
Major maths boost to be implemented
A major investment will be made in mathematics in Swedish schools.
Continuing professional development for maths teachers
The Government plans to make a special investment in continuing professional development for maths teachers in compulsory school, upper secondary school and adult education. This initiative is to support teachers in developing pupils' knowledge and abilities in line with the new curricula, subject plans and syllabuses. A total of SEK 800 million will be invested in the period 2012-2015.
More teaching hours in maths
To strengthen maths as one of compulsory school's core subjects, the number of teaching hours in maths in compulsory school will be increased by 120 hours, starting in the autumn term of 2013. This means one extra hour per week for three year groups. For this reform, the Government is allocating SEK 250 million for 2013 and SEK 500 million per year from 2014.
It is important that pupils receive individually designed support to learn the basic skills of reading, writing and arithmetic during their first years in compulsory school. The Government has therefore implemented a reading-writing-arithmetic initiative for the years 2008-2011. The government grant can be used to employ extra staff, carry out measures to improve skills and buy teaching aids. The initiative will also continue in 2012, with SEK 250 million having been allocated.
Major expansion of important medical training programmes
The Swedish health care sector is in great need of trained, competent staff. Several agencies are warning of serious shortages of doctors, nurses and dentists in the future - unless more staff are trained. On several previous occasions, the Government has increased the number of places on various medical training programmes to meet the needs of the labour market. The demand for staff having completed a degree in health and medical care or dental care is nevertheless expected to increase more quickly than supply, due to a rise in care needs and the age structure among those currently working in the sector.
The Government is now proposing an expansion of important medical training programmes.
- An additional 50 places for new students will be offered in medical school in 2012, and an extra 250 places are planned in future budget bills.
- An additional 700 places per year for new students should be offered on nursing training programmes over the next few years.
- An additional 100 places for new students will be available on specialist nursing training programmes in 2012.
- An additional 12 places for new students will be offered on dentistry training programmes in 2012, and an extra 40 places are planned in coming years.
The new places are being financed through the redistribution of funds.
More places on Master of Science in Engineering programmes
Swedish industry is in great need of well-trained engineers. Following a decline over several years in the numbers interested in engineering degrees, we are now seeing an increase in numbers of applications to Master of Science in Engineering programmes. To meet this growing interest, the Government is expanding Master of Science in Engineering programmes by 400 places in 2012, and has plans for an additional 200 places in 2013. The new places are being financed through the redistribution of funds.
Quality drive in humanities and social sciences
The huge increase in the number of places in higher education in the 1990s has led to a deterioration in quality. The humanities and social sciences have suffered in particular. On several occasions, the Government has carried out targeted initiatives in these areas, but as the needs remain great, a new quality drive totalling SEK 400 million is proposed for 2013. This money will go to higher compensation amounts for the humanities, social sciences, law and theology. The initiative is being financed through the Government's plan to save SEK 440 million on higher education institutions, because part of the current appropriation goes to compensation for people who have signed up for courses but who never attend any lectures.
Incentive funds for mergers of higher education institutions
Several higher education institutions risk becoming susceptible to global changes. For example, this applies to higher education institutions with a large number of third-country students, a large number of correspondent students, or a large proportion of the courses they offer concentrated on a few large programmes that have been criticised in evaluations carried out by the Swedish National Agency for Higher Education, such as teacher training and nursing programmes. One way of reducing vulnerability and increasing quality in both higher education and research is for more higher education institutions to merge. Changes in organisation should be based on higher education institutions' own assessments and be done on a voluntary basis. To increase incentives for voluntary mergers, the Government proposes that incentive funds be allocated. SEK 20 million has been allocated for 2012, and SEK 75 million per year for subsequent years has been calculated.
Research results must be put to use
Research results from higher education institutions must benefit society, for example by being commercialised. The holding companies of higher education institutions are one important type of tool for commercialisation. The Government proposes that higher education institutions and their holding companies receive special funds (SEK 19 million in 2012, then SEK 12 million per year) to build up 'idea banks' of research results.
It is proposed that the two universities currently without holding companies - Örebro University and Mid Sweden University - be permitted to each create their own holding company. For this, both universities will be allowed to use SEK 1 million each in 2012.
More student grants
From the autumn term 2011, foreign students from countries outside the EU/EES and Switzerland who are not taking part in exchange programmes have to pay for their education in Sweden. In connection with the introduction of fees, two grant programmes were created. One of the grant programmes is targeted at especially well-qualified students from all over the world, and the other is intended for the twelve countries with which Sweden has long-term development cooperation. The Government is now proposing an increase in the grant programme. It will increase from SEK 30 million to SEK 50 million per year.
To attract pupils on upper secondary natural science programmes to enter higher education studies and ultimately a career in the area of technology, they are to be offered work experience placements at companies involved in the technology industry. The Government proposes that SEK 20 million be allocated in 2013.
Reinforcement of national tests
The national subject tests are an important way of supporting equivalent and fair grading. The results of a pupil's national tests are also important in helping the teacher to determine whether that pupil needs more support and assistance. For national tests to fulfill their function, they must be conducted in such a way that they follow the correct procedures and the assessment is objective. The Government therefore intends to task the National Agency for Education with development and quality-assurance of the national subject tests. The Government proposes that SEK 15 million per year be allocated from 2013.
Swedish Schools Inspectorate and National Agency for Education to receive additional resources to strengthen workplace-based learning
The National Agency for Education is to be tasked with taking measures that could help to raise the attraction of vocational education and training and to assure quality in workplace-based learning. The remit includes developing attractive supervisors' training for those people in companies who take care of vocational pupils. The Government is investing SEK 10 million per year in 2012 and 2013.
SEK 120 million for continuing professional development in pre-school
To live up to the requirements of the new Education Act and curriculum, the Government considers that heads of pre-schools and pre-school teachers need additional opportunities to develop their skills. The Government proposes investments in continuing professional development for pre-school teachers and pre-school heads totalling approximately SEK 120 million for the period 2012-2014 in the areas of follow-up and evaluation, and children in need of special assistance.
More places in vocationally oriented upper secondary adult education and vocational higher education
To encourage more young people to take part in regular education, the Government is proposing a temporary increase in the number of places available in vocationally oriented upper secondary adult education and vocational higher education. The Government is investing a total of SEK 750 million for the period 2012-2013 in 7 500 new places in vocationally oriented upper secondary adult education and vocational higher education.