Sweden cancels 2020 university entrance exams for fear of COVID-19 infections

Source: Xinhua| 2020-09-02 05:59:57|Editor: huaxia

STOCKHOLM, Sept. 1 (Xinhua) -- Amid a record number of applications to Swedish universities, the country's Council for Higher Education has decided not to offer college entrance exams this fall, due to the COVID-19 epidemic, Radio Sweden reported on Tuesday.

After much deliberation and mixed messages from the government and education authorities, and after having consulted college presidents around the country, the Council for Higher Education announced on Tuesday that it would cancel the bi-annual college entrance exams known in English as the Swedish Scholastic Aptitude Test (SweSAT).

The decision follows hot on the heels of a Tuesday op-ed, signed by 21 presidents of universities and higher-education colleges who argued that it would be unwise to go ahead with the national exams this year due to the risk of "cluster contagion". The 21 signees represent institutions that are responsible for holding the exams twice a year, once in spring and once in the fall.

"If 21 presidents tell me that they cannot take responsibility for any spread of the infection, well then I can't change my decision," Karin Roding, director-general of the Council for Higher Education, told Radio Sweden. The council warned earlier this month that the tests could be cancelled for a second time in a row after the spring round was withdrawn, something that several political parties objected to.

However, last week it looked like the fall round might have gone ahead anyway, only at a smaller scale than normal as the government decided to amend the Higher Education Ordinance, which among other things sets out the rules for university admissions. The amendment would have allowed the Council for Higher Education to open up the test to a smaller group, for instance, to individuals who have not previously taken it. However, the Council's statement on Tuesday means such a scenario is now unlikely.

The SweSAT is normally given twice a year at a number of locations throughout Sweden and is used as one of the means to gain admission to higher-education institutions. It is made up of questions on mathematics, Swedish vocabulary, English reading comprehension and more. In 2019, over 67,000 Swedes registered for the exam, an 11 percent decrease compared with the year before, according to the Council for Higher Education which administers the SweSAT. Enditem