Universities, university colleges and other education providers

Both university colleges and universities conduct research and provide higher education at various levels.

Universities and university colleges vary in how much focus is given to research. The older universities have more extensive research than university colleges and the newer universities.

Sweden has a uniform system for higher education with the same legislation, regardless of provider. HEIs primarily differ in that universities have been granted general degree-awarding powers at the second- and third-cycle levels, while university colleges must apply for entitlement to award degrees at the second- and third-cycle levels in specific areas.

The size of the HEIs also varies greatly. Measured in number of enrolled students, the largest university had more than 45,000 students for the academic year 2018 and 2019, while the smallest HEIs had less than 100 registered students.

Education within the framework of higher vocational education providers

Higher education is not the only form of tertiary education in Sweden. There is also higher vocational education within the framework of vocational education and some interpreter programmes. Higher vocational education is to meet the needs of the labour market, and theoretical studies are combined with courses given at workplaces. The length of higher vocational programmes varies between one and three years, and in total they equal just over 10 per cent of post-secondary education. As such, the vast majority of Sweden’s post-secondary education consists of higher education.

Higher vocational education and higher education are separate systems, and there is no progression between the systems.