Higher Education in Sweden
Sweden is a world leader in higher education, with three schools in the top 100 worldwide in 2010, as ranked by the Academic Ranking of World Universities. There are three levels of higher education programs – Bachelor, Master, and PhD or research. The Swedish government funds about 80 percent of the cost of higher education.
Why Study in Sweden?
About 600 masters programs are taught in English and around 30,000 international students currently study in Sweden.
Swedish universities encourage creativity, personal initiative and independent thinking. The academic environment is relaxed, with informal relationships between students and instructors. Students often work in small groups and spend less time with instructors. In addition, many masters degree programs partner with industry to provide real-world experiences that augment academic studies.
Sweden has 14 public universities and 20 public university colleges, as well as several independent institutions such as the Stockholm School of Economics. There are many specialized schools, such as the Royal Institute of Arts and the Royal Institute of Technology.
Tuition and Program Duration
Swedish, Swiss, EU/EEA and exchange students pay no tuition. In 2011, universities began charging tuition to students from other countries. Each institution sets its own tuition, about SEK 80,000 to 140,000 per year. Masters degrees in the arts can be much higher.
The Swedish government has instituted two scholarship programs for students who need financial assistance. One program is for students from developing countries and covers both tuition and living expenses. The other program is for other non-EU/EEA students and covers only tuition.
One year of full time study is equivalent to 60 credit hours compatible with the European Credit Transfer System (ECTS). There are two options for a masters degree:
1. The “Masterexamen,” which requires 2 years and 120 ECTS; the degree can only be awarded by research universities and institutions.
2. The “Magisterexamen,” which requires only 1-year and 60 ECTS; the degree can be awarded by all higher education institutes.
Program length depends upon the academic discipline and the institution offering the degree.
The academic year consists of two semesters, each about 20 weeks in length. The autumn semester runs from the end of August through the middle of January and the spring semester runs from the middle of January through June.
Businesses value the innovative thinking, practical experience and teamwork skills that graduates of Swedish institutions possess. International students are welcome to remain in Sweden after they graduate if they can find work, especially in areas where labor shortages exist such as engineering and accounting.
Most non-EU/EEA students who plan to stay for more than three months must obtain a residence permit before they arrive in Sweden. The residence permit costs SEK 1,000 and is not refundable; in addition, students should not apply for the permit until they have been accepted for full-time studies and paid for their first term. Students planning stays of less than three months require only a visa. Specific requirements vary by country.
Non-Nordic EU/EEA students may reside in Sweden for more than three months without a resident permit, but must register with the Migration Board within three months of arriving and demonstrate proof of higher education studies, health insurance, and living expenses.
Nordic, EU/EEA and Swiss students must register for health insurance in their home country and obtain a European Health Insurance card. Sweden also has reciprocal medical benefits with some countries, so students should check to see if they qualify for this benefit before seeking other insurance.
Students from other countries are eligible for Swedish health benefits if they are staying in Sweden for more than one year to study. This benefit is not automatic; students must register at their local tax office and the benefit can take several months to establish. Students who are staying for less than one year must obtain their own health insurance; however, many universities have low-cost programs for students.
International students who require a residence permit should plan their stay well in advance, as the process can be very lengthy.
Although Sweden is an EU member, the country still uses the krona (SEK) for currency. Popular credit cards such as Visa, MasterCard and Eurocard are widely accepted throughout the country.
Sweden, which occupies the eastern part of the Scandinavian Peninsula, is the fourth-largest country in Europe. The country slopes eastward and southward from the Kjölen Mountains along the Norwegian border, where the peak elevation is Kebnekaise at 6,965 ft (2,123 m) in Lapland. Today, Sweden is a constitutional monarchy with a parliamentary democracy form of government and a highly developed economy. Sweden has the world's eighth-highest per capita income.
Sweden is located in Northern Europe and is bordered by Finland, Norway and the Baltic and North Seas. Sweden is well-known for literature, films, fashion, and a universal health care system. The average life expectancy for women is 83.5 years and for men 79.5 years, which is among the longest in the world. Major industries include timber, iron ore, telecommunications, automobiles, and pharmaceuticals.
Climate in Sweden
Sweden has a relatively mild climate. In Stockholm, the average January temperature is about -3 degrees C and the average July temperature is a cool 17 degrees C. Although Stockholm receives only about 6 hours of daylight in January, 18 hour days are normal in the summertime.
Swedish culture revolves around the seasons. Swedes have a very active lifestyle and spend daylight hours in the summer participating in outdoor sports, open-air theaters and music festivals. Dark evenings in the winter attract people to indoor activities such as films. Swedes are also famous for promoting sustainable lifestyles, with emphasis on organic food, organic clothing, recycling, waste management, and energy conservation.
Cost of Living
Minimum monthly expenses for a student (excluding tuition and fees) will be about SEK 7,000 (about 700 euro), mostly for food and lodging. Students are required to demonstrate to the Swedish Migration Board that they have sufficient funds to live in Sweden. Current amounts per month for ten months each year are SEK 7,300 for the student, SEK 3,500 for a spouse, and SEK 2,100 for each child. These amounts can be reduced for students who can demonstrate that they have free lodging. Students are also allowed to work while they are attending school.
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