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Fact sheet

Higher education and research in Sweden

Sweden is taking part in the Bologna Process, a wide-ranging
Published by the Swedish Institute
European cooperative venture whose goal is to harmonize all July 2007 FS 83 a
higher education in Europe. As a result, there will be major
More fact sheets can be found on
changes in the Swedish education system. By providing competi-
tive undergraduate and graduate training, Sweden is to become
a more attractive country to study in for students from abroad.

In Sweden, the Riksdag (Parliament) and Eligibility

Government have overall responsibility To meet general admission requirements
for higher education and research, which for attending a university or university col-
means that they make decisions on aims, lege, students must have a school-leaving
guidelines and the allocation of resources. certificate from the high school or muni- Breakdown of students by field of under-
graduate studies (2006)
Education and research fall under the cipal adult education in Sweden or have
brief of the Ministry of Education and completed high school education outside
Research. The Swedish National Agency Sweden. Studies at a folkhgskola (folk
for Higher Education is the central gov- high school) can also qualify students for
ernment agency responsible for matters higher education. When there are more
concerning higher education, but univer- applicants than places available, applicants
sities and university colleges are separate are ranked, based in part on their grades
government authorities and make their when they leave school. A government
own decisions about the content of courses bill introduced in March 2007 proposed
and other matters. The development of among other things that passing grades
basic research in Sweden is financed and be required in the core subjects of Swedish
promoted by the Swedish Research or Swedish as a second language, English Social sciences, including law 30%
Council. and mathematics. Technology 18%
Humanities, including theology 13%
Healthcare, including medicine, odontology and
pharmacy 14%
Natural sciences 12%
Teaching 9%
Arts 2%
Other 2%

Source: 2007 Annual Report, the Swedish National

Agency for Higher Education

For many university programs, students

also have to meet specific admission
requirements. This may entail taking
advanced courses in different subjects
included in the national programs for high

Financing, student loans

Studies at Swedish institutions of higher
education are free of charge, as they are
financed by the Swedish state. However,
a report has been commissioned to deter-
mine whether fees should be introduced in
The number of students in undergraduate programs was about 320,000 in 2006. the future for students from countries out-
Photo: Hkan Lindgren/Ume University/ side the EU.
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Fact sheet

Since 1965, all Swedish students who admissions process. Among other changes, The aim of the Swedish state in its
study at a university or university college starting in 2010, foreign applicants will work with the Bologna Process is, among
are entitled to financial assistance, regard- be considered for admission in a separate other things, to increase Swedens attrac-
less of their parents or spouses finances. group. tiveness to foreign students as a country
Study assistance consists of a grant com- The aim of the Bologna Process is to for study by offering internationally com-
ponent and a loan. Repayment of the loan create a coordinated European Higher petitive education.
is income-dependent, and the loan is to Education Area (EHEA) by 2010. If any of the students being taught do
be repaid no later than the students 60 th not know Swedish, instruction are held in
The objectives of the Bologna Process:
birthday. For citizens of the EU/EEA or English. Some Masters programs are con-
Easily readable and comparable degrees.
Switzerland, EU regulations apply. Other ducted entirely in English.
Greater use is also to be made of the
foreigners who have a permanent resi-
Diploma Supplement, a standardized
dence permit in Sweden may be entitled
description of each program and its
Swedish higher education
to Swedish financial assistance for studies
position in the university system. Swe-
history and development
both in Sweden and abroad. The number of students in undergraduate
den was the first country to implement
Students at a university or university programs in Sweden increased from about
college must be members of the student 14,000 in 1945 to about 320,000 in 2006.
Two main cycles of studies.
union. Students have representatives in During the 1990s, the number of students
A uniform system of credits.
different decision-making bodies involved doubled. Research programs have expand-
Increased mobility for students, teach-
in their education. However, a proposal ed at a similar rate.
ers, researchers and administrators.
has now been submitted to abolish the Swedens investment in technology and
Promotion of European co-operation in
student union fee. the natural sciences has also led to almost
quality assurance.
Universities and university colleges a tripling in the number of degrees award-
Promotion of the necessary European
are obliged to arrange instruction so that ed in the country since the early 1990s.
dimensions in higher education.
students with different types of disabilities Sweden has thus advanced relative to
have the same opportunities for study as other countries. In terms of the number
other students. of graduate degrees, Sweden also ranks at
The new system starting July 2007 the top, doubling the number of degrees
Universities and university colleges awarded in the 1990s. There were almost
There are 14 state universities and 22 state Undergraduate studies
18,000 students in research studies in
university colleges in Sweden. There are University diploma, 120 higher education credits, 2006.
also three independent higher education two years of full-time study. In the 2004/2005 academic year, the
institutions that are entitled to offer gra- Bachelors degree, 180 higher education credits, total number of students entering a uni-
three years of full-time study.
duate training: Chalmers University of A new degree category for arts is also being added:
versity or university college was equal to
Technology in Gothenburg, the Stock- University diploma in arts, 120 higher education 45.6 percent of all young Swedes. One
holm School of Economics and Jnkping credits, two years of full-time study. trend that can be discerned is that recruit-
University. Bachelors degree in arts, 180 higher education ment to higher education has expanded in
credits, three years of full-time study.
There are also other independent pro- terms of class and sex. However, students
Masters studies
gram providers who offer undergraduate Masters degree (one year), 60 higher education
from a working class background are still
education in a given field, such as health- credits, one year of full-time study. underrepresented. This is also true of stu-
care. Masters degree (two-year), 120 higher education dents from an immigrant background;
credits, two years of full-time study. nonetheless, the differences here are con-
Masters degree in arts (one year), 60 higher
In Sweden, there are a total education credits, one year of full-time study.
siderable, depending on the nationality
of 61 universities, university Masters degree in arts (two years), 120 higher involved. Given this situation, the Gov-
education credits, two years of full-time study. ernment took the initiative a year or so
colleges and independent To be admitted to programs at the Masters level, ago to broaden recruitment to universities
program providers that offer students need at least a three-year undergraduate
and university colleges.
degree from Sweden or an equivalent degree or
higher education. equivalent qualifications from another country.
Research studies Since the mid-1990s, a grow-
Changes in the university system Licentiate degree, 120 higher education credits,
ing number of students from
There will be major changes in the Swed- two years of full-time study.

ish university system starting on July 1, Doctoral degree, 240 higher education credits, other countries have applied
four years of full-time study.
2007, when the new levels of higher edu- To be admitted to programs in research studies, for studies in Sweden. During
cation are introduced. Each level requires students need a Masters level degree or at least four the 2005/2006 academic
that students have a degree from the pre- years of full-time study (with at least one year at the
year, almost 26,000 foreign
Masters level), the equivalent education abroad or
ceding level of study. In the new system,
one year of full-time study (40 weeks)
equivalent qualifications. students were registered at
will correspond to 60 credits instead of
Professional degrees
The reform also involves certain changes concerning
Swedish universities and
the current 40 credits. The new system professional degrees. Some degrees will be elimin- university colleges.
is compatible with the European Credit ated and others changed. For instance, the programs
for a degree in architecture, a Masters degree in
Transfer System (ECTS). engineering science or a degree in radiation therapy
In the mid-1940s, the percentage of
will now be five years rather than the current four women in undergraduate programs was 20
The Bologna Process and a half years. percent. In recent years, the situation has
These changes are part of what is known changed dramatically the percentage of
as the Bologna Process and also affect the women is now about 60 percent. But there

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Fact sheet

is considerable variation between the dif-

ferent programs. Registered students in undergraduate programs by sex (fall term 2006), percent

Swedish investment in research 100

The aim of Swedens research policy is to

Women Men
have Sweden be a leading research coun- 80
try, one of the most R&D-intense coun-
tries in the world, and to have research 60
that is both broad and specialized. Sweden
allocates almost four percent of its gross
national product (GDP) to research and
development work, which corresponds to
about EUR 820 or about USD 1,100 per 20

Environmental technology is one field 0

the ies,

in which Swedish research is far in the




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pioneers in the handling of emissions and



toxic substances in products and manufac-


turing processes.
In nanotechnology too, Sweden has
Source: Statistics Sweden
a high level of expertise in research. The
roughly 30 pure nanotechnology com-
panies in the country today are often uni-
versity spin-offs with operations based on leges, accounts for 22 percent of research. women among entering students was
nanotechnology. A number of major Swed- Since 1997, some universities and univer- highest in medicine, 60 percent, and low-
ish companies including ABB, Sandvik sity colleges have fixed research funding, est in the engineering sciences, 31 percent.
and Hgans have enhanced their com- which means that they can plan their re- After students complete their doctoral
petitiveness through nanotechnology. search more over the long term. Other degree, they can choose to stay in the aca-
The bulk of Swedish research, 75 per- research is carried out by different govern- demic world as teachers and researchers.
cent, is financed by companies. Research ment agencies for instance, the Swedish Here, men are still in a clear majority.
funded by the state, which is carried out Environmental Protection Agency, the Surveys have also shown that women with
largely at universities and university col- Swedish Defense Material Administration doctoral degrees have become professors
and the Swedish Research Council for at universities and university colleges to a
Environment, Agricultural Sciences and lesser extent than men. In 2006, the num-
Spatial Planning and in the private not- ber of women professors was 751 (17 per-
for-profit sector. cent) out of a total of 4,416 professors,
The breakdown by sex of students which is nonetheless a clear increase com-
entering research programs is basically pared to 85 women (5.1 percent) out of a
balanced, with 49 percent women and total of 1,679 professors 20 years earlier.
51 percent men (2006). But here too, the
breakdown varies in the different fields:
in the humanities and social sciences,
Related links
Study in Sweden
there are slightly more women, while in
The Ministry of Education and Research
the natural sciences, there are slightly
more men. In 2006, the percentage of
The Swedish National Agency for Higher
The National Agency for Service to
Percentage of women among research Universities and University Colleges
students awarded a doctoral degree
The Swedish Research Council
1986 24%
1996 33%
Information about research in Sweden
2006 46%
Sweden allocates almost four percent of its GDP The Swedish Institute for Studies in
to R&D work. Photo: Lars Dahlin/KTH/ Source: Statistics Sweden Education and Research SISTER

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