Higher Education in Sweden – 2017 Status report

Higher Education in Sweden – 2017 status report is an English version of the annual statistical report on higher education institutions (HEIs) in Sweden.

Trends and developments in higher education in Sweden

The number of applicants for higher education fell slightly for the second consecutive year, but remains at a historically high level. There were 130,000 applicants for the autumn 2016 semester with no previous higher education experience.

This number can be compared with the early 2000s when there were around 100,000 applicants which then decreased until 2006, when 88,000 applied. Since 2009, the number of applicants has been at a historically high level and increased further to above 130,000 from the 2013 autumn semester.

This trend has occurred even though the labour market has improved in recent years. Interest in higher education is very high.

Increase in new incoming entrants autumn 2016

The most recent data about international student mobility show that 17,190 incoming students studied for the first time at a Swedish HEI in the autumn semester 2016. Exchange students accounted for 51 per cent of this number while 49 per cent were free movers.

After the introduction of application and tuition fees, there was initially a marked decline in the number of free movers. In the autumn semester of 2016, there were 2,740 new incoming students who paid tuition fees and this was a rise of 23 per cent compared to the autumn semester of 2015. As in previous years, most of the paying students are from Asia – more than 60 per cent in the 2016 autumn semester.

Education and employment

The higher an education a person has, the better the job prospects. Generally, the risk of unemployment is less and the chance of getting a job and becoming established on the labour market is greater for those with tertiary education than those with no more than upper-secondary education or lower. The ability to establish oneself on the labour market today is generally good for university graduates in Sweden, and this is not expected to change in the future.

In 2014, 80 per cent of 2012/13 graduates were established on the labour market, 1–1.5 years after graduation. The proportion of established men and women was about equal. This is the first time since 2002 that female graduates were established at the same level as male graduates.

Sweden in an international perspective

Most tertiary education in Sweden is offered in the form of higher education.

In 2014, 40 per cent of the adult Swedish population (25–64) had at least two years of tertiary education.

In Sweden, women surpassed men in educational attainment in 2005, and since then the gender gap has widened. The attainment level in 2015 was 47 per cent for women and 33 per cent for men, an increase in the attainment gap from nine to 14 per cent.

According to Eurostat data, Sweden, Austria, Denmark, Finland and Germany are the EU countries that invested the most in research and development as a share of GDP in 2015, about 3 per cent.

This report is based on the statistical data continually reported by the HEIs to Statistics Sweden and the data reported directly to UKÄ in connection with the submission of their annual reports to the Government.