Wednesday, January 10, 2007

«Uppsala University Guilty of Anti-Swedish Discrimination»

At the end of last month, Uppsala University has been found guilty of discrimination against Swedes by the Swedish Supreme Court (Högsta domstolen). Three years ago, the university had refused to enroll Cecilia Lönn and Josefine Milander to its Law Faculty, even though they had better grades than thirty other students with a foreign background.

In 2003, thirty of the available places for the law courses had been reserved for students with a foreign background. Cecilia Lönn and Josefine Milander, both with better grades than all of those thirty students who were allowed in, were refused by the university. The two young ladies didn't leave it with that, and sued the university. They won two times in lower courts, but now the Supreme Court too has ruled in their favor and acknowledged them a compensation of SEK 75,000 (approximately €8,200). The court expenses they made, about SEK 41,000 (approximately $4,500), will be reimbursed too by the state.

Nor the Supreme Court, nor the two women question the principle of positive discrimination, as long as it is practiced between candidates who are otherwise equivalent for the studies, or the job for that matter. This becomes different when somebody with an ethnic background is favored even though the Swede had better grades, since this is not positive discrimination any more, but just plain discrimination. Therefore the Supreme Court wanted to set a clear example this time of what cannot be considered to be positive discrimination and therefore is illegal.

Of course, the two students have had two tough years, but ironically the whole case may rather be an advantage than a disadvantage to them at the end of the day. As law students, they have now practical experience in bringing a case to court and conduct it, up to the level of the Supreme Court. Moreover, they have had the possibility to profile themselves in an important case, and this will undoubtedly help them when they start looking for a job.