Please note! The Swedish National Agency for Higher Education was closed down on 31 December 2012. Instead two new agencies have been established: the Swedish Council for Higher Education and the Swedish Higher Education Authority. This website will continue to operate as the new agencies will have links to information it contains.
Serious crime — an obstacle to completion of higher education
The Swedish Government has assigned Högskoleverket (the Swedish National Agency for Higher Education) to investigate certain aspects of admission and expulsion, in which the Agency is to consider whether a student who is not regarded as capable of completing his/her studies, in whole or in part, as a result of serious criminality may be expelled from the programme concerned, in certain cases. The Agency is also assigned to investigate whether a higher education institution should, in certain cases, refuse to admit an applicant if it is clear that the applicant may not be able to complete his/her studies, in whole or in part, as a result of serious criminality, even though the entry requirements for the programme concerned are fulfilled. This involves situations that result from, or which may be expected to result from, decisions by another public authority. This should only apply for applicants to, and students participating in, programmes leading to a degree in education and qualifications in the medical and health-care area. The background to this assignment is public debate about a current case concerning a medical student who has been sentenced for murder, but has served his sentence.
Current rulesHigher education legislation provides no scope for refusing to admit an applicant purely on the grounds that it is considered that he or she will be unable to complete the programme, in whole or in part, or pursue the profession for which the programme is designed to prepare the student concerned. Furthermore, it is not permissible to expel a student purely on the grounds that it is considered that he or she cannot complete the programme or pursue the future profession concerned. The grounds for expulsion are that the student suffers from mental disturbance, abuses alcohol of narcotics, or has committed a serious crime. In addition, there must be a tangible risk that the student may harm another person or damage valuable property during his/her education period.
The Agency´s assessment and proposalsThe Agency´s investigation into the possibilities of preventing the admission of an applicant who has committed serious crimes to certain higher education programmes indicates that rules of this nature require that the applicant must produce information from the criminal records and present it to the higher education institutions concerned. This would not be practical within the admission process framework and, as a result, a check of this nature would have to be made after admission has been approved. The admission decision might be reversed if the records show that the applicant has committed serious criminal acts which would clearly indicate that another public authority would take a decision that would mean that the person admitted could not complete the programme. However, the Agency opposes the introduction of such rules, and does not advocate a change in the rules for the expulsion of students from higher education. As the Agency understands the assignment, this would involve additional grounds for expulsion, which would mean that the Higher Education Expulsions Board would be responsible for assessing whether authorities that arrange placements might refuse to allow a student who has committed a serious crime to participate in a placement of this nature. If such grounds are introduced, the review carried out by the Board on the basis the current grounds of serious criminality would be irrelevant. There should not be two alternative grounds for expulsion of this nature. As a result, the Agency considers that no additional grounds for expulsion should be introduced. The Agency´s assignment is not merely to assess the way in which serious criminality should be handled in such contexts, but also other “very strong, objective circumstances". The Agency does not consider, however, that there is reason to propose any further regulation of such circumstances, other than that already implied by the expulsion rules. The Agency proposes, instead, that the Higher Education Ordinance should stipulate that higher education institutions are obliged to take steps to ensure that students may complete placements. If an institution has taken adequate measures, but has been unsuccessful due to circumstances due to the student, the institution may withdraw the student´s right to complete such a programme.
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