A Guide to Study Abroad in Sweden
The capital of Sweden, Stockholm, is the country’s largest city, with more than 850,000 inhabitants. Other large cities are Gothenburg, in western Sweden and Malmo in the south. Uppsala and Lund are well-known university cities. Swedish is the official language of Sweden. The vast majority of Swedes also speak English, and generally to a very high level. Many Swedish multinational organizations have English as their corporate language, and a large number of Swedish higher education university degree programs and courses are taught in English.
Stretching over 1500 kilometers, Sweden is home to white beaches in the south, snow-covered mountains in the north, and beautiful lakes and forests between. Nature is a very important part of life in Sweden, and is always within close proximity for both those living in rural areas as well as in the cities. Temperatures here drop in the frigid winters, but are pleasant and warm in the summer.
Today, the people of Sweden are early adopters of international trends with world-renowned, innovative art, music, and design industries. Great companies such as IKEA, Ericsson, Volvo and H&M were developed here and still have their headquarters in Sweden. Sweden is known for its openness toward the international community – and the education system is no exception. Around 30,000 foreign students from all over the world study in Sweden, where schools maintain a high education standard.
- Capital: Stockholm
- Official language: Swed
- Government: Constitutional monarchy, parliamentary democracy
- Area: 174,000 square miles/ 450,000 square kilometers (3rd largest country in Western Europe)
- Population: 9.4 million
- Life expectancy: Men 79 years, women 83 years
- Currency: Swedish krona (SEK)
- Calling code: +46
With its emphasis on independent studies, Sweden is ranked among the world leaders in higher education. The teaching model applied at Swedish universities and university colleges is based on the motto ‘freedom with responsibility.
Higher education institutes in Sweden aim to conduct training and research, and to provide students the opportunity to interact with the community. Most courses require full-time study or 40 hours every week. The majority of these study hours are completed independently.
In Sweden, students can pursue a higher education at Universities or University Colleges. There are 14 universities and 21 university colleges in Sweden. The difference between these two options is that formally universities have the full right to award Masters and PhD degrees. However, the Swedish government can decide to grant this right to university colleges within specific fields of study.
To be admitted to higher education in Sweden, a student must first fulfill the general eligibility requirements which are common to all programs or courses, and then meet the specific eligibility requirements which are usually imposed on applicants by the individual university or University College. The latter vary according to the field of education.
Students must have completed 90% of required high school programs; 90% of required adult education programs; or the foreign equivalent of either of these education programs.
The official language of Sweden is Swedish, but everyone studies English from a young age, and television shows and movies are texted, not dubbed. Hence, the Swedish speak very good English and foreigners are able to understand without speaking the national language. If you want to learn Swedish, most Universities offer language courses for International students. Learning Swedish can be helpful in fully engraining oneself in the Swedish experience and becoming more a part of the culture.
Students from within the European Union do not need a Swedish visa to study in Sweden, but must have a national identity card. Students from outside the European Union must apply for a visa or residence permit depending on the length of time they plan to stay in Sweden. If your studies in Sweden will last longer than three months, you’ll need a residence permit before coming to Sweden. Permits are issued by the Swedish Migration Agency. Regulations on visas and residence permits for international students in Sweden vary depending on country of citizenship.
Students can get their visa or residence permit for Sweden at the Swedish diplomatic or consular representation in their country of origin. In order to receive a residence permit, students must have been admitted to full-time studies, have sufficient funds, and have a valid passport. The current waiting time for a residence permit for studies is two to three months, so be sure to submit your application as soon as possible after receiving your notification of admission.
Planning your budget is an important part of preparing to study in Sweden. Here’s an overview of the different costs you should include in your budget.
In Sweden, the currency used is the Swedish krona (SEK). We’ve given costs in SEK; use a currency converter like Google or xe.com to find up-to-date exchange rates. In February 2016 it was 10 INR = about 1.25 SEK. Application and tuition fees apply for students who are not citizens of an EU/EEA/Nordic country or Switzerland studying at the bachelor’s or master’s level. For a Swedish higher education student, tuition fees will range between SEK 80,000 and 140,000 per academic year for most subjects. Programs in certain fields may have higher fees.
An average monthly student budget is about SEK 8,000 per month. Of course, your costs will vary depending on where you live and your personal preferences. Remember that prices can vary considerably depending on where you live. Stockholm, for example, is more expensive than smaller towns. Dining out at restaurants can be somewhat expensive in Sweden, though student bars and restaurants often have discounted prices. Lunch at a student restaurant on or around campus usually costs between SEK 55-70; at an average café or restaurant, about SEK 65-95. Dinner starts at around SEK 100-150, drinks not included. In most restaurants and bars, an inexpensive beer or glass of wine will cost about SEK 60
As an international student looking for housing, your first point of contact should always be your university. Higher education institutes in Sweden offer accommodation services for international students, which can include providing guaranteed housing or giving advice on where to find a room on your own. The exact offer will vary between universities. Accommodation options for students vary considerably by city in Sweden. There are usually plenty of accommodation options for students at schools in smaller or mid-sized towns, but larger cities like Stockholm and Gothenburg often lack vacancies for student living and have long waiting lists. This problem is being addressed now as more housing is built.
Students can also rent a flat privately, although university housing is often cheaper and allows students to meet others more easily. If students are not provided accommodation by their education program, it is crucial that they approach the student union at their university as soon as possible. In addition, most schools have an international student department which can provide additional assistance to ensure that students find the best possible place to live based on their individual needs. Many students choose to live in a student residence hall, also known as a dormitory, or in a building of student flats. This is usually a fun experience that gives you the chance to get to know corridor mates from around the world.
Most residence halls have 10-15 single rooms in each corridor, often with a shared television room and kitchen. In some cases, rooms will have en-suite toilets, while others may have shared facilities for the corridor. Female and male students live in the same corridor.