Fewer students – but still many degrees awarded

The number of higher education (HE) students continued to drop in the academic year of 2015/16, while the number of new entrants remained the same. Students who only took freestanding courses accounted for the entire drop. Roughly 68,000 students received qualifications, the second highest number ever.

Continued decrease of higher education students, but the number of HE entrants remained the same

The number of students decreased to 402,800 in the academic year of 2015/16, which is 1 100 fewer than the previous academic year. The number of students who only take freestanding courses dropped even more and thus comprised the entire drop.

The number of HE entrants – new students studying at Swedish universities and institutes of higher education – remained the same as the previous academic year with 86,000 entrants in the academic year of 2015/16. The Swedish HE entrants, meaning new students excluding international students, decreased by 1,400.

The number of higher education entrants in programmes increased

23,500 HE entrants studied in general programmes (programmes leading to a higher education diploma, a bachelor’s, or a master’s degree) during the academic year of 2015/16. That was 1 per cent more than the academic year of 2014/15 and 33 per cent more than 2006/07. There were 27,400 HE entrants in professional qualification programmes, which was an increase of 2 per cent compared to the previous year.

Half of the higher education entrants were under the age of 22

In the academic year of 2015/16, the number of HE entrants under the age of 22 decreased by 2,600. Despite this, half of the HE entrants were 21 or younger. Compared to the academic year of 2006/07, the share of HE entrants under the age of 22 has increased by 2 percentage points.

Among Swedish university entrants, 56 per cent were younger than 22 years in the academic year of 2015/16, a drop of 4 percentage points compared to the previous academic year, but 1 percentage point higher than ten years ago. A somewhat larger share of the men compared to the women was under the age of 22 among Swedish university entrants in the academic year of 2015/16, 58 and 54 per cent respectively.

Larger share of men than women at the second cycle

242,800 women and 160,000 men were registered in higher education at the first and second cycles in the academic year of 2015/16. Close to 104 300 students were enrolled in courses classified as second cycle courses, which was 26 per cent of all students. The share of students at second cycle was larger for men than for women, 27 and 25 per cent respectively.

Still a large number of graduates

54,000 students graduated for the first time from Swedish higher education institutions in the academic year of 2015/16. This was 600 fewer than in the previous academic year but the second highest number ever. For first-time graduates only the first completed degree in Sweden is counted for each individual.

The total number of students who graduated was 68,200, including those who had previous qualifications. This number was also the second highest ever. The decrease was only 100 graduates compared to the previous academic year.

The number of qualifications awarded in the academic year of 2015/16 was 81,200. There is a difference between the number of qualifications awarded and the number of graduates because 13,000 qualifications were awarded to students who received more than one qualification during the academic year.

Close to 10 000 Master’s degrees

15,800 students were awarded qualifications requiring at least 300 credits during the academic year of 2015/16, which corresponds to five years of full-time study.

The number of qualifications awarded in the longest study programmes has increased by 13,800 since the new structure of education and qualifications was introduced in 2007. The major part of the increase is due to a growing number of Master's degrees awarded each year; the most recent academic year they increased by 1,000. In total 9,700 Master’s degrees were awarded during the academic year of 2015/16.

Graduates are younger than ten years ago

In the academic year of 2015/16, the median age for graduates was 26.9 years. The median age for women and men was exactly the same. Ten years earlier, the median age of women was 28.5 and that of men was 27.5 years.

Among those who graduated for the first time at Swedish institutes of higher education in the academic year of 2015/16, the women were younger than men. The median age of women was 26.1 compared to 26.6 for men.

The number of double degrees continues to increase

9,800 graduates were awarded both a professional qualification and a general qualificatioduring the academic year of 2015/16. Such double degrees have more than doubled during the last ten years, despite the increase in the number of professional qualifications being relatively small. Most of the double qualifications were awarded to students who studied nursing or engineering.

Percentage of qualifications awarded to international students decreased

Between the academic years of 2005/06 and 2011/12 the percentage of individuals coming to Sweden to study (international students) increased from 5 per cent to 13 per cent among those awarded qualifications. Since then it has fallen and was 9 per cent in the academic year of 2015/16. The reason for the decrease is the introduction of student fees for certain international students in the academic year of 2011/12.

Swedish Higher Education Authotity (UKÄ) is appointed by the Swedish government to be responsible for official statistics on higher education.