Higher Education in Sweden

After gymnasieskola, students can apply to a university in order to receive a tertiary education. General academic degrees are offered by public universities and university colleges that tend to attract students on a regional basis. Besides general academic degrees, the higher education system in Sweden also provides a number of professional and vocational degrees in fields such as engineering, law and medicine.

As of autumn semester 2011, higher education is free of charge only for Swedish, EU/EEA, and Swiss citizens.

Higher education is divided into three levels: basic level (grundnivå), advanced level (avancerad nivå), and doctoral level (forskarnivå).

Basic level (grundnivå)
To be admitted to a programme at the basic level, a student must complete an education at the gymnasieskola level or its equivalent. The degrees that can be obtained at the basic level are:

University Diploma (högskoleexamen), 2 years, 120 higher education credits (högskolepoäng)
Degree of Bachelor (kandidatexamen), 3 years, 180 higher education credits

Advanced level (avancerad nivå)
To be admitted to a programme at the advanced level, a student must have obtained a 3-year Swedish degree at the basic level or a corresponding degree from another country or some corresponding qualification. The degrees that can be obtained at the advanced level are:

Degree of Master (One year) (magisterexamen), 1 year, 60 higher education credits
Degree of Master (Two years) (masterexamen), 2 years, 120 higher education credits
Both degrees require completing a thesis.

The Degree of Master (Two years), masterexam, is a new degree that is intended to be closely linked to continuing education at the graduate level.

Doctoral level (forskarnivå)
To be admitted to a programme at the doctoral level, a student must have obtained a Swedish degree at the advanced level or completed at least 4 years of full-time study with at least one year at the advanced level or a corresponding degree from another country or equivalent knowledge. The degrees that can be obtained at the doctoral level are:

Degree of Licentiate (licentiatexamen), 2 years, 120 higher education credits
Degree of Doctor (PhD, doktorsexamen), 4 years, 240 higher education credits

Postgraduate academic titles are docent (associate professor) and professor (professor). Each department has an administrative officer, the prefekt, who often is a docent.

Three sets of grades exist in Swedish universities and university colleges. Some universities have introduced a seven-grade scale (A-F, Fx), that similar to the ECTS scale, but with a criterion-referenced grading instead of relative grading. The most common scale is a three-grade scale that consists of U (Underkänd in Swedish, fail), G (Godkänd, pass) and VG (Väl godkänd, pass with distinction). In this set VG is the highest. The other grade set consists of (U, 3, 4, 5) where 5 is the highest. This grade set is normally given in courses within technical professional degrees. Finally there are some courses, within two systems of grading, in which you can only get G (pass) or U (fail).

Language requirements
Before being accepted to a higher education programme in Sweden, all applicants must demonstrate a minimum proficiency in Swedish and English. For international applicants, the Test in Swedish for University Studies (TISUS) is used to test Swedish language proficiency and TOEFL or the Cambridge First Certificate in English exam may be used for English.

Student aid
Swedish students receives help from the Swedish National Board of Student Aid (CSN) while studying. CSN is a Swedish Government authority that is sending out financial aid for studies. This includes loans and grants for students that is studying in Sweden or abroad in another country.

Swedish legislation about student democracy is made by:
The Higher Education Act (issued by the Parliament)
The Higher Education Ordinance (issued by the government and frequently revised)

Such legal basis form regulations for all Swedish public universities. They principally state that:
The state provides institutions for higher education
Higher education should be based on research
Higher education institutions should cooperate with the surrounding local communities
Quality efforts on all things are a joint matter for staff and students
Students should take an active part in the work, with further development of the education
There must be student representatives in all drafting and decision-making bodies

Complaints about the implementation of legislation on student democracy can be sent to the Swedish Higher Education Authority (Universitetskanslerämbetet) . Even if there is no fine, universities usually follow the agency's decisions.

Core issues
The main issues about student democracy in Sweden are:

Granting a low threshold in entering universities, by:
No fees, for Swedish, EU/EEA, and Swiss citizens
Simple rules of admission (no entrance test)
Widening participation, introducing new groups into higher educations (ethnic minorities, low-income citizens); it is worthy noting that affirmative actions are not allowed by Swedish legislation, as a form of positive discrimination.
Securing gender equality for staff, students and perspectives of education
Strengthening the international perspective in all education, in order to help in creating understanding of the international society

The Equal Treatment Act
In 2001, the Act for Equal Treatment of Students in Higher Education was issued, stating that:

Equal treatment should be granted regardless of sex, ethnic origin, religion, sexual orientation, and/or disabilities.
Harassment (from staff or students) and discrimination are to be prevented.
An annual plan has to be issued by each university to actively promote equal treatment.
Weak spots are to be found in cooperation with students.
In case of reported harassment or discrimination (based on the student's feelings), there's an obligation to investigate and take measures.