Swedish HEIs 1477-1900

The first university in Sweden was founded in 1477 in Uppsala. Only men were allowed to enrol.

During Sweden’s period as a great power in the 17th century, there was a growing need for public officials who could help develop and administer the Empire. Three new universities were founded in what was then Sweden: Academia Dorpatensis, or Academia Gustaviana (now University of Tartu); the Royal Academy of Turku; and Lund University.

The Scientific Revolution

The Scientific Revolution took hold in the 17th and 18th centuries. Reason and science took centre stage, interest in studying medicine and science grew and the prevailing belief of the time was that science and education should serve a useful purpose. Swedish botanist, physician and zoologist Carl von Linné became an early symbol of Swedish science.

The 19th century

During the 19th century, the scientific approach made major inroads at Swedish universities.

Sweden derived its ideals from the Humboldt University of Berlin, which stressed that education and research must go hand-in-hand and develop together so that the student’s innate ability to seek and integrate knowledge evolves.

At the same time, the educational ideal was evolving. This held that during their time at university, students should develop as individuals and create an all-encompassing view of existence. The idea that the researcher should simultaneously be a teacher is an ideal that is reflected in today’s Swedish higher education. For the first time, research became an explicit mission for Swedish universities.

During the 19th century, the practical-oriented institutions of higher education emerged parallel with existing universities. These would later be incorporated into the higher education system as medical institutes, universities of technology and schools of agriculture and forestry. This development continued with schools of economics and of business administration during the early 20th century. Higher education’s mission of professional training, education and research had been established.