Some Ethiopian students want to live-not just study-in Sweden
Fri Jul 26,12:58 PM ET
By KARL RITTER, Associated Press Writer
STOCKHOLM, Sweden - Most of the Ethiopian students attending a Swedish university's course on forestry skipped their return flight to Africa, and school officials said Friday they're considering canceling future invitations.
"We are very disappointed. We have suggested that next year there will be no semester in Sweden," said Sven-Gunnar Larsson, program manager at the Swedish University of Agricultural Studies.
Nine of 16 Ethiopians who attended the three-month, annual course disappeared ahead of the group's scheduled July 18 return to Ethiopia. One subsequently applied for asylum in Sweden, according to the Migration Board.
The course is part of a master's degree the university offers to selected students from the impoverished African country. Students spend the rest of the two-year program at the Wondo Genet College of Forestry in southern Ethiopia.
The degree, which is funded by Swedish foreign aid, is designed to prepare Ethiopian scientists to manage the developing country's scarce forests.
Nebiat Getachew, a spokesman for the Ethiopian Embassy in Stockholm, said it would be regrettable if the students applied for asylum in Sweden.
"We've spent a lot of resources to bring these people up to this level," he said. "We're expecting them to come back and contribute to the various programs in our country. It would be very disappointing for us if they shy away from this duty."
The Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency funds the program through a 75 million kronor (dlrs 8 million) four-year education package.
Agency spokeswoman Anette Widholm said it's not uncommon that visitors from developing countries decide to stay in Sweden. However, nine out of 16 was "way too many to be acceptable."
"We have to review this part of the program and see if we can do it in another way," Widholm said.