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Why can’t Swedish higher education institutions own their premises?

ANSWER: Currently, public authorities, which the majority of Sweden’s colleges and universities are, generally cannot own buildings. Instead, the government supply of properties is based on the authorities renting premises on the open market.

In connection with the Provision of Premises Reform and the reorganisation of state-run property management in the early 1990s, it was determined that property management should be separated from use of premises and land, which would provide a more accurate picture of costs for land and premises in the state budget. Moreover, property management must also be conducted, as far as possible, with a market return requirement, property management should be conducted in separate profit centres and the Swedish state should have a dedicated ownership role. These guidelines have been confirmed on multiple occasions since then, in both government inquiries and bills.

The centres of education receive grants from the State to cover rental costs including an annual upward adjustment. Akademiska Hus, in turn, shall clearly charge rent based on market terms, while taking into account the risk associated with the rental relationship. This is clear and in accordance with the property guidelines approved by the Swedish Parliament. The lack of a profit-generating component also skews the playing field against the competition.

Stable proportion of cost of premises for Sweden’s centres of education

The diagram below shows the proportion of cost of premises for Sweden’s centres of education over time. Despite extensive investments, costs for premises as a percentage of total costs have declined somewhat over time.

The cost of premises in 2020 accounted for 12.4 per cent of the total costs that colleges and universities have, regardless of who is the landlord.

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