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Study Abroad: SWEDEN

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Sweden's universities are keen to ensure top international students continue to choose the country, following the introduction of tuition fees for non-EU/EEA/Swiss applicants.

Sweden is a well-established higher education destination, with a strong presence in the QS World University Rankings, a well-established global reputation for research and innovation, and a highly developed, international society.

The Swedish university system has also become known for its emphasis on equal access and openness, with tuition entirely funded by the government, and relationships between faculty and students known for their informal character.

However, as for much of the world, this is a time of change for universities in Sweden. Facing mounting funding challenges and rapidly rising numbers of foreign students, the government introduced tuition fees for international students from outside the EU, EEA or Switzerland, starting from 2011.

The full impact of this decision has yet to be seen, but those within the sector are concerned that it will almost certainly mean fewer applicants from outside of Europe – a trend they would be keen to reverse.

International Diversity

Fewer international students would be bad news not only for Swedish universities, but for the country in general, believes Eva Malmström Jonsson, deputy president of KTH, Royal Institute of Technology.

"We consider it a significant backlash for Swedish society if Swedish higher education institutions are becoming populated by European, and especially Swedish, students only," Malmström Jonsson says.

"We have to provide students and researchers which a similar learning culture and environment as in society at large – which is becoming increasingly international. We do believe our graduates and PhDs will be better prepared if the culture on our campuses is international."

Uppsala University's international coordinator, Kay Svensson, agrees that international diversity is linked to the quality of education provided. "With a mixture of cultural backgrounds in the classroom, the quality of discussions improves."

As for the scholarship schemes introduced by the government to assist incoming bachelor's and master's students, Svensson says these help, but are currently too few, and not guaranteed to attract the best applicants.

World's leading Destinations

So far the picture is mixed. Applications to international master's programs dropped dramatically in the first year of fees, while 2012 saw at least some recovery – though still only 31,223 applications compared to 132,000 in 2010.

But even in 2011-12, international student ratios do not seem to have suffered at the country's top universities. In the 2012/13 QS World University Rankings, the top four (including Uppsala and KTH) all saw improved scores for international student ratio – though this does not differentiate between EU and non-EU students.

All four also improved their overall rankings, and the majority of Sweden's ranked universities climbed this year in the global academic and employer surveys, suggesting the country's global reputation is continuing to grow.

This is unsurprising. Sweden's public spending on higher education remains well above the OECD average, and its levels of research and number of world-ranked universities are particularly impressive in the context of its population size.

For students, Malmström Jonsson and Svensson argue that Swedish higher education really does have a unique offering to make. They point in particular to its reputation for nurturing innovation and entrepreneurship, through a combination of personal challenge, teamwork and 'non-hierarchical' support from faculty members.

If the country can effectively communicate these strengths, then it should be well placed to compete for international fee-paying students alongside other popular HE destinations.


Application Fee
700 to 900
Swedeish Kronas / per year
Tuition Fee
80,000 to 1,40,000
Swedish Kronas / per year
Cost of Living
Swedish Kronas / per year



If you are enroled at a Swedish university or university college you can work in Sweden during the course of your studies without a work permit. You do, however, need a residence permit if you stay for longer than three months. You can read more about residence permits and visas here.

Nordic, EU and EEA citizens are allowed to reside and work in Sweden without a work and residence permit, but need to register at the Swedish Migration Board.

More liberal Swedish labour migration laws came into force in December 2008, making it much easier to move to Sweden for work for non-EU citizens. This also applies to students. If you have received a job offer after you have finished your studies you are allowed to stay in Sweden to work.

More information about working in Sweden if you are a non-EU/EEA citizen can be found



Non-EU/EEA countries

If you are intending to stay in Sweden for less than three months, you will need a visa if the country that issues your passport is on this list [PDF file]. You should also confirm possible visa requirements with the Swedish consulate or embassy responsible for your home country.

If your studies in Sweden will take longer than three months, you will need a residence permit before arriving in Sweden. Permits are issued by the Swedish Migration Board, and the Board has collected what you need to know before applying for a residence permit. Applications are to be made at a Swedish consulate or embassy.

Please note that you cannot be granted a residence permit unless you have been admitted to full-time accredited university studies in Sweden. This includes paying the first instalment of tuition fees
The residence permit application fee, which is not refundable, is SEK 1,000.

When applying for a residence permit, you must prove to the Swedish Migration Board that you will have a guaranteed sum of money at your disposal throughout the entire period of your studies. The amount, SEK 7,300 per month for ten months of the year, is set by the Migration Board. If you wish to bring your family you must show that you have at your disposal an additional SEK 3,500 per month for your spouse and SEK 2,100 per child and month. Remember that you also need to pay the first instalment of tuition fees before applying for a residence permit.

If you can prove to the board’s satisfaction that that you will receive free lodging during the whole or part of your study period, this sum will be correspondingly reduced. Students who have been awarded a scholarship through the Swedish Institute or another programme should supply proof of this. You will also need to show a valid passport and a letter of admission from the institution at which you will be studying. To be sure of obtaining your permit in time, you should submit your application 6-8 weeks prior to your departure for Sweden.

Please note that residence permits are limited to the duration of the study period, or to one year, whichever is shorter. Your permit will be renewed annually, provided you receive the number of credit points required and can produce evidence of continued financial support. Renewal requests are processed by your local Swedish Migration Board office. If you have any questions, please contact the Swedish embassy or consulate in your home country or country where you currently live. You can also contact the Swedish Migration Board. Also, make sure you have adequate medical insurance.

EU/EEA countries

If you are a citizen of a non-Nordic EU/EEA country you have the right to reside in Sweden. The term “right to reside” means that an EU/EEA citizen is permitted to stay in Sweden for more than three months without a residence permit. However, you must register with the Migration Board no later than three months after entering the country.

To register, you must enclose proof of enrolment for a course or programme which is at high school level at the minimum, assurance that you have sufficient funds for your living expenses, and proof that you have comprehensive medical insurance valid in Sweden. You can read more about the requirements for registration at the Swedish Migration Board’s website. They have collected what you need to know.

Please note that if you are a citizen of Switzerland you must apply for a residence permit (see above).

Nordic countries

Citizens from Nordic countries do not need a visa or residence permit to study in Sweden.


Documents Required

1  Completed Student Application form.
2  Completed Supplementary Questionnaire for students and postdoctoral researchers.
3  Official letter of acceptance from Canadian university, college or Technical Institute.
4 Certificate of Acceptance from the province of Quebec (Only if you plan to study in province of Quebec)
5  TOEFL/IELTS scores if applicable
6  Passport, valid for at least one year from the planned date of entry to Canada, plus valid passports of any accompanying dependants.
7  Bank Draft for the applicable visa processing fees

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