Compiled by: Shaffat Shahriar Email - shaffat@ymail.


Want to study in Sweden? Here's a collection of tips and tricks:
Higher education is for everyone,
Swedish universities and university colleges are open to everyone. About half the population study at a higher education institution at some time in their lives. Some people go on to higher education directly after upper secondary school, others choose to work for a while or travel abroad before they begin to study. Most students in Sweden are between 20 and 25 years old but some are also older. Equal numbers of women and men study in higher education. Sweden’s universities and university colleges have become increasingly multicultural. Many foreign students come to Sweden on various exchange programmes. More and more young people with a non-Swedish background are also enrolling in higher education. A multicultural atmosphere is regarded as high quality in higher education and much is done to promote social and ethnical diversity.

University or University College?
Sweden has some forty university colleges and universities – from Kiruna in the north to Malmö in the south. Almost all of them are state-controlled. There are also about twenty independent programme providers who are empowered to award degrees. Independent means that they are not controlled by the state. Empowerment to award degrees means that they can award degrees for some of their study programmes. Whether a higher education institution is a university or a university college does not mean that there is any difference in quality. The difference instead is that a university can always offer post-graduate studies for students who have completed their first degrees. A university college can offer post-graduate studies if it has been assigned one or more socalled areas of research by the Government. From now on we will refer to both universities and university colleges as higher education institutions – the same regulations apply at both. It is not possible to say that one higher education institution is better than another. It depends on what you yourself think is important. Some higher education institutions specialize in certain types of education, for example artistic disciplines or engineering subjects. Others offer pro-grammes in many different fields. The quality of the education is examined regularly by the Swedish National Agency for Higher Education.

Choosing a study programme
The great majority of higher education institutions have course catalogues where they

present their courses and study programmes. You can order these by contacting the institution. If you have access to the internet you can also visit the institutions’ web-sites to get information about the courses and programmes they offer. You can find addresses and links to all the higher education institutions on the Swedish National Agency for Higher Education’s portal at You can also search for courses and programmes at the higher education institutions and apply to the ones that you are interested in. If you need help or advice when you are planning your studies, you can contact a study and careers guidance counselor. You can find careers guidance counselors in upper secondary schools, in municipal adult education and at the higher education institutions. Public Employment Services offices can also provide information about studies.

Courses or a programme?
All higher education consists of courses but there are two ways in which you can study. You can either choose to combine courses into a degree yourself, or you can choose a study programme where the higher education institution has decided beforehand which courses are included. All study programmes lead to a degree. When you read a study programme, you are guaranteed a place on all the included courses. If you study single subject courses, on the other hand, you must apply to and be admitted to each individual course during your studies. Studies can be full-time or part-time. If you cannot or do not want to move to a town or city with a higher education institution, you can choose distance learning. This means that you can work at home or at a learning centre in your local municipality and study the course literature follow-ing special instructions. The learning centers have student counselors who can give you advice and support. You may, though, have to visit the higher education institution at times, for example to sit an examination. How programmes and courses are graded All courses and programmes in higher education give you a number of study credits. One full term of study gives 30 credits and a full academic year gives 60 credits. It takes three years to reach 180 credits and a four-year programme gives 240 credits.

Two types of degree
When you have completed your studies, you can ask to be awarded a degree by the higher education institution at which you studied. There are two types of degree that a higher education institution can award: general and professional. Most higher education programmes lead to a general degree, of which there are four kinds: • University Diploma, 120 credits • Bachelor’s Degree, 180 credits • Degree of Master, 240 credits • Master’s Degree, 300 credits Programmes that give a qualification to practice in a certain profession lead to professional degrees. Examples of such programmes are nursing, engineering, and psychology.

Application and admission
In order to study at the higher education institution, you must have some previous knowledge. All study programmes require what is known as basic eligibility. All national programmes at upper secondary school give this eligibility. You must have a school leaving certificate. This is a requirement even if you have the lowest grade, Pass, in at least 90% of the upper secondary school credits that are needed for a full programme. There are also other ways to acquire basic eligibility. One is to work at least half-time for at least four years and be aged 25 or over. In order to have a value to compete for a place with, you also have to sit the National University Aptitude Test. You can read more about the National University Aptitude Test later. If you have secondary school education from another country that qualifies you for higher education studies in your home country, you also have basic eligibility in Sweden. You also need to provide proof of adequate language skills in Swedish and English. For most programmes, you also need additional previous knowledge. This is called special eligibility. Special eligibility requirements differ between programmes and universities. Certain programmes, for example in artistic disciplines, also have special admission examinations. If you do not have the basic or special eligibility that is required, there are various ways of acquiring it. Upper secondary schools, municipal adult education offices and folk high schools can give you more information.

Sometimes more people apply for a programme than there are places for, and a selection procedure must be carried out. Selection is based upon secondary school grades and results achieved in the National University Aptitude Test. In order to be able to rank the applicants, an average called a merit value is calculated. The different selection quotas are listed in the admissions catalogue published by the National Agency for Services to Universities and University Colleges (VHS). You can find out more about application and admission from VHS and on the Swedish National Agency for Higher Education’s portal at The National University Aptitude Test If you satisfy both the basic and the special eligibility requirements for a programme, the National University Aptitude Test is a good way to improve your chances of being admitted. The test is held twice a year and you can take it as many times as you wish. Your results are valid for five years. You do not have anything to lose by taking the National University Aptitude Test – you can apply on the basis of grades and the National University Aptitude Test at the same time. If you have several results from the National University Aptitude Test that are valid at the same time, only your best results are counted. You can get more information and application documents from the higher education institutions and at

How to apply
The National Agency for Services to Universities and University Colleges, VHS, together with the universities, deals with admissions to most courses and programmes. You can search for and read about the different courses and programmes that the higher education institutions offer on the internet portal. You can also apply for courses and programmes directly via the internet. If you do not have access to the internet, you can order the admissions catalogue published by the National Agency for Services to Universities and University Colleges by calling 08-613 99 00. There is an application form in the catalogue. The universities also have course catalogues and application forms that you can order by contacting them directly. The academic year at the universities is divided into two terms. The autumn term begins in August/September and ends in the middle of January and the spring term begins in the middle of January and ends in June. Students are admitted twice a year. The final day for applying is: • 15 April for courses/programmes that begin in the autumn and • 15 October for courses/programmes that begin in the spring.

Financial support
Swedish higher education institutions do not charge term fees – education is paid for by the state. But as a student you will still need money for food, accommodation, course literature etc. All students must also belong to a Students’ Union. Union membership fees vary but will generally amount to a few hundred SEK a term. Students’ unions are nonreligious and nonpolitical. They look after students’ rights and, among other things, arrange social activities.

Financial aid for students – grants and loans
Special rules apply if you are not a Swedish citizen. You must have moved to Sweden for some other reason than to study. You must also be officially registered as residing in Sweden. If you are a citizen of a country outside the Nordic area you must have a permit to live in Sweden. If you have a permanent residence permit, official refugee status or both right of residence and permanent family ties, you are entitled to receive student aid. Assessments are made by the Swedish Migration Board, who also issue residence permits. You can get more information about student aid from CSN.

Scholarships and housing allowances
Because Sweden has such a comprehensive student aid system, there are not many scholarships that students in higher education can apply for. The ones that exist are seldom sufficient to live on. You can get more information about where to apply for scholarships from a public library. If you are under 30 or have children you can apply for a housing allowance from your local authority.

Studies take time
It may be difficult to find enough time to work alongside your studies. Full-time studies involve as much work as a full-time job – 40 hours a week. It is important that you devote the time not spent at lectures etc to studying on your own. Students with children are entitled to places at day-care centers.

Student accommodation
Several different kinds of accommodation exist for students. If you have been admitted to a course or programme where you live, you can naturally choose to continue living where you live today. Otherwise it is very common to rent a room in a students’ corridor, where you share a kitchen with other students. There are also student flats that have their own kitchens or kitchenettes. You can also rent a room in a flat or a whole flat. The higher education institutions do not have accommodation of their own to rent to students. Instead, it is the Students’ Union or private housing companies that can find or provide accommodation for students. It may be difficult to find somewhere to live so it is important to begin looking in good time, especially if you will be studying in a large town or city.

Employment after your studies
You can get information about different jobs and professions, what the prospects are and the education they require from a Public Employment Services office. The Swedish Employment Service’s web-site has a great deal of useful information about jobs and professions and education paths. You can also find information at If you have completed higher education in another country, you can have it evaluated by the Swedish National Agency for Higher Education. The Swedish National Agency for Higher Education can then tell you what Swedish degree your foreign degree is equivalent to. Their assessment is important for both you and the employer when you apply for a job. In the case of a profession that requires official authorization, registration etc, it is other authorities that evaluate your qualifications. The Swedish National Agency for Higher Education can give you more information.

Who to contact
For more information The Gateway to Sweden The Swedish Employment Service (AF), service telephone, tel: 0771-416 416, The National Board of Student Aid (CSN), tel: 0771-276 000, The Swedish National Agency for Higher Education, tel: 08-563 085 00, The Swedish Migration Board, tel: 011-15 60 00,

The National Agency for Services to Universities and University Colleges (VHS), qualifications from Swedish schools, tel: 08-545 515 45; qualifications from schools abroad, tel: 08-545 515 40. Information about applications and admissions published by the National Agency for Services to Universities and University Colleges can be found on the National Agency for Higher Education’s portal at A Guide to the Swedish Legal System Courtesy of mastersportal

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