Higher education in Sweden - 2018 status report

Higher Education in Sweden – 2018 status report is an English version of the annual statistical report on higher education institutions (HEIs) in Sweden.

Sweden in an international perspective

In Sweden, most higher education is offered at public-sector higher education institutions (HEIs). Private institutions are less prevalent than in many other EU countries. There are some 30 public-sector HEIs, accounting for approximately 90 per cent of the number of full-time equivalent students.

Over the last decade, resources have increased substantially, especially for research and third-cycle courses and programmes. However, in 2017 funding for first and second-cycle courses and programmes accounted for a greater share of the increase in revenue at the expense of research and third-cycle courses and programmes.

Comparing Sweden with other OECD countries, the educational attainment of the adult population is above the OECD average. Investment in tertiary education, in relation to GDP, is slightly higher than the average for OECD countries, 1.7 per cent as compared to 1.6 per cent. The total expenditure in the higher education sector in Sweden, including student aid, was SEK 81.1 billion in 2017.

Growing interest in programme studies

In the academic year of 2016/17 close to 86,000 individuals began higher education studies for the first time. Of these, 59 per cent were women and 41 per cent men. There were more entrants to study programmes than to freestanding courses, continuing a trend from the past several years. In the same academic year, there were 63,400 first and second-cycle graduates, slightly fewer than the preceding year. Approximately 4 per cent of second-cycle graduates continue to third-cycle courses and programmes, with one third of all entrants in the medical and health sciences. Of all third-cycle entrants, 41 per cent were international students in 2017.

Many senior lecturers

Higher education is the single largest public sector in terms of the number employed. In 2017, there were a total of 60,600 full-time equivalent employees at the HEIs. Of these, research and teaching staff accounted for 60 per cent. Senior lecturers are the largest, and fastest growing, category of research and teaching staff. Of the professors, only 28 per cent were women in 2017, but there is a strong increase in absolute numbers.

Higher education improves job prospects

As a rule, higher education graduates have better job prospects than those with only an upper-secondary qualification. In 2017, a majority of recent graduates were established in the labour market within a short time after completing their studies. The establishment rate was highest for graduates in the area of Engineering and construction, 87-88 per cent three years after graduation, depending on level of qualification.

More incoming than outgoing students

Of all first and second-cycle graduates in the 2016/17 academic year, 15 per cent had studied abroad at some point. Even though it is a political priority to increase the number of outgoing students, the number has decreased in the last two years. The largest decrease is seen in free movers, students who are not part of an exchange programme. There have been more incoming than outgoing first and second-cycle students for more than ten years, and in the academic year of 2016/17 there were 35,860 incoming and 24,080 outgoing students.