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The independent schools can receive a smaller tuition fee than the municipal schools. The current system hits the municipalities unfairly, believes the government, which is now having the compensation system investigated.
Education Minister Lotta Edholm (L) has long announced a review of school fees, and this week the government decided on directives for an investigation.
– Investigation after investigation has shown that we do not have an equivalent school system in Sweden, says Lotta Edholm.
In today’s system, independent schools receive the same school allowance per pupil that the current municipality gives to the municipal schools. But the municipality’s responsibility is greater – it must always be prepared to be able to receive more students at short notice, for example if an independent school loses its license or in the event of an unexpectedly large move-in.
The government also sees another bias in today’s system, which means that school costs in a municipality are at risk of drifting away. Because if the municipality loses students, due to the students switching to independent schools, the municipality’s cost per pupil increases – and then the municipality must also increase the grants to the independent schools. The school system in a municipality thus becomes more expensive, despite an unchanged number of students.
The government therefore now wants to receive a concrete proposal for a national school fee standard for what the municipalities should at least replace the independent schools with.
A nationally determined compensation is also what the National Audit Office proposed more than a year ago. In an audit, the National Audit Office saw several weaknesses in the current system and suggested that the same compensation should apply throughout the country, however, taking into account metropolitan areas/sparse areas, teacher salary levels and local costs.
Criticism from independent schools
But the government’s planned overhaul of the school fee system has already attracted criticism. According to the National Association of Independent Schools, the independent schools are not overcompensated at all. Municipalities already spend significantly more money per pupil and year on a pupil in a municipal school than on a free school pupil. The greater part of this difference (11,000 kroner) cannot be explained, according to a recent report from the association. The system is not transparent and the municipalities covertly favor their own students, according to the report’s foreword.