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Karolinska Institute to admit foreign students

By Akhila Seetharaman



Dr. C.B. Sanjeevi

CHENNAI, JULY 24. Indians can now pursue post-graduate medical studies in the cool academic climes of Stockholm, Sweden. The largest medical studies and research institute in Sweden, Karolinska Institute, is now opening its doors to foreign students. From 2005 onwards, 10 per cent of the institute's intake will comprise non-Swedes, who will be enrolled for a fee.

"According to Swedish law, education must be entirely free," explains C.B. Sanjeevi, Director, Centre for Molecular Medicine at the Institute. But through a private limited company it has set up, Karolinska Institute Holding, the Institute is now able to offer admission to foreign students at a cost. This is part of the government's and universities' changing attitude to foreign students.

"With the doors to America gradually closing, Europe has become a valuable destination for higher education," says Dr. Sanjeevi. And Sweden offered the perfect academic and cultural environment for international students, he says. "We have had a lot of requests from the Middle East, especially in the last few years, as it has become difficult for students from there to go to the United States," he says.

According to the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), the number of foreign students enrolled in Swedish universities grew by 64 per cent between 1998 and 2001, four times the OECD average of 16 per cent.

However, costs for foreign students are relatively modest, especially when compared with equivalent costs in other Western countries. And students are allowed to work part-time.

"Living costs amount to around 5,000 Swedish kroners a month, equivalent to a little more than three lakhs a year, if a student leads a simple life," says Dr. Sanjeevi. The institute plans to divide tuition cost among the students. The more the students, the less the fees, he says.

A Masters degree in specialised areas of medical studies takes a minimum of one year to complete. The medium of instruction is English, but students who pursue courses that require interaction with patients need to demonstrate proficiency in Swedish by taking the TISUS — Test in Swedish for University Studies.

"Unlike colleges in India, Swedish universities have no age limit," says Dr. Sanjeevi. "Anyone can apply at whatever age."

On another front, the Institute is keen on building links with Indian universities. It is already collaborating with Thiruvananthapuram Medical College in a student and teacher exchange programme, through which students and teachers from Sweden come to India for training and vice versa.

All these initiatives, including coordination with the industry, are part of efforts to make Stockholm Europe's science capital, for which a reorganisation of European Union funding is taking place, says Dr. Sanjeevi.

"The European Medical Research Council will most likely be headquartered in Stockholm."

Not only is Karolinska Institute renowned for its research, it is also the decision-making body for the Nobel prize for medicine, says Dr. Sanjeevi. Each year on December 8, the winner gives his or her Nobel lecture at the Institute.

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