The Swedish National Agency for Higher Education recently published its Annual Report 2009. The biggest news, perhaps, is that there were more international students in higher education in Sweden in 2008 than ever before.

Whilst the USA remains the most popular global destination for foreign students, Sweden has witnessed a marked increase in foreign students flocking to the country to study.

The introduction of two-year Master’s programmes, in keeping with the framework of the Bologna Process, seems to have been a key factor in attracting foreign students.
Of the 9,300 students who started Master’s courses in 2008, 62% were from abroad.

In 2007/08 over 31,000 foreign students registered at Swedish universities. Over 50 percent were from other EU countries, but a staggering 35 percent were from Asia.

The influx of international students to Sweden also affected the figures for doctoral studies. Of the 3,200 students who started their doctorate in 2008, 33 percent came from abroad.

Although the Annual Report notes a slight upswing in the total number of new doctorate students, last year is still lower than 2002/2003 when there were 3,800 new doctorate students.

More students in higher education

2007/08 saw a 3 percent increase in the number of Swedish students applying to university.

The most popular courses were within the fields of technology and engineering with applications up by over 6 percent, whilst teacher-training programmes attracted 10 percent fewer applicants than the previous year.

Distance learning on the increase
In keeping with Sweden’s continued strategic investment in technology, distance learning courses are becoming an increasing feature of Swedish higher education. This year’s Annual Report notes that one in four students are now studying at least one course by distance – three times more students than in 1999.


The good news for graduates was that 78 percent of students who graduated in 2006 were in full-time employment by 2007. However, it remains to be seen what effect the global economic downturn that struck last autumn has had on graduate employment.

The full report is available in English as a PDF:

Text: Jon Buscall
Jon Buscall is a Text and Communications Consultant specialising in digital content, copywriting, training, journalism, PR and corporate storytelling.