Education in Sweden

Education in Sweden

Education in Sweden is mandatory for all children aged 7-16. [cite web | url = | format = PDF | title = Education Act (1985:1100) | publisher = Swedish Government Offices | date = 1985-12-12 | accessdate = 2008-04-03] Most 6 year olds attend a pre-school class run within the school system. The school year in Sweden runs from mid/late August to early/mid June the next year. The Christmas holiday from mid December to early January divides the Swedish school year into two terms.

All young children from 1-5 years old are guaranteed a place in public day-care facility ("förskola" or "daghem"/"dagis"). Between ages 6-16, children attend compulsory comprehensive school, divided in three stages. After completing the ninth grade, 90% continue with a three-year upper secondary school ("gymnasium") leading sometimes to a vocational diploma and (depending on which program you've chosen) to qualifications for further studies at a university or university college ("högskola"). Both upper secondary school and university studies are financed by taxes. Some Swedes go straight to work after secondary school. Along with several other European countries, the government also subsidizes tuition of international students pursuing a degree at Swedish institutions, although there has been talk of this being changed. [cite web |url= |title=Fees and costs - SWEDEN.SE |accessdate=2007-06-18 |format= |work=] Swedish 15-years-old pupils have the 22nd highest average score in the PISA assessments, being neither significantly higher nor lower than the OECD average. [] Only few countries except Canada, United States and Japan have higher levels of tertiary degree holders.


Language requirements

Before being accepted to a higher education programme in Sweden, all applicants must demonstrate a minimum proficiency in Swedish and English by either taking 2 years of Swedish and English or passing Swedish B and English A. [cite web
title = Grundläggande behörighet
publisher =
date = 2007-09-11
url =
language = Swedish
accessdate = 2007-10-30
] For international applicants, the TISUS, or Test in Swedish for University Studies, is an international exam that can be taken to demonstrate proficiency in Swedish. For those whose native language is not English, international applicants can demonstrate proficiency in English by obtaining a minimum score of 173 points on the TOEFL or a minimum grade of B on the Cambridge First Certificate in English exam. [cite web
title = Utländska betyg: Behörighet
publisher =
date = 2007-10-04
url =
language = Swedish
accessdate = 2007-10-30
] Exchange students may have different language requirements.

Student Democracy


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 bodiesComplaints about the implementation of legislation on student democracy can be sent to the Swedish National Agency for Higher Education. 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 both Swedes and foreigners
** 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, 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.

Independent schools in Sweden

Independent schools were relatively uncommon in Sweden until 1992, when the government introduced a school voucher system where schools without the municipal as principal, could receive government funding for each student. These independent schools, currently teaching 8% of primary and secondary students, most often have an alternate pedagogy (for example Montessori), foreign/international, religious (for example Catholic or Muslim) or special needs (for example deafness) profile. There are also several secondary schools with an elite sports profile, called "idrottsgymnasium". Independent schools are not allowed to receive fees from parents, so there are no true upper-class schools.

There are just a handful of boarding schools with Lundsberg being the most reputable.

History of education in Sweden

Primary school

In 1842, the Swedish parliament introduced a four-year primary school for children in Sweden, "Folkskola". In 1858 grade 1 and 2 became "Småskola" and children started school at the age of seven. In 1882 two grades were added to "folkskola", grade 5 and 6. Some "folkskola" also had grade 7 and 8, called "Fortsättningsskola". Schooling in Sweden became mandatory for 7 years in the 1930s and for 8 years in the 1950s. Since 1972, Swedish children have 9 mandatory years in school - from August the year the child turns 7 to June the year the child turns 16.

econdary school

After three years in "folkskola", children who enjoyed school and had good grades could choose to switch to a secondary school called "Högre allmänna läroverket". "Högre allmänna läroverket" was not free, so most students came from well-off families. However, some children with good grades got free education at "högre allmänna läroverket" because their parents could not afford to pay for it. In 1905, "högre allmänna läroverket" was divided into a lower level, 6-year school called "realskola" and a higher level, 4-year school called "gymnasium". In 1971, "fackskola" merged with "gymnasium" and "yrkesskola" to become "gymnasieskola".


In the autumn term of 1949, some Swedish schools introduced an experiment with a nine-year school called "enhetsskola". The "enhetsskola" had three stages. The first 3 years were "lågstadium" (lower stage), the next three years were "mellanstadium" (middle stage) and the last three years were "högstadium" (upper stage). In those school districts, "småskola" became "lågstadium", "folkskola" became "mellanstadium" and "realskola" became "högstadium". On May 26 1950, the Swedish parliament decided to introduce the "enhetsskola" in Sweden. In 1958 the "enhetsskola" became "försöksskola", which in 1962 changed name to "grundskola". In 1972, the "grundskola" was introduced in all parts in Sweden, and the "folkskola" and "högre allmänna läroverket" were abolished. From the autumn term of 1994, the official division in three different stages was abolished. In the early 1990s, Sweden also introduced "förskoleklass" for the children aged 6, a one year long grade which first was called "årskurs 0" (Grade 0) or "6-årsgrupp" (group for the 6 year olds). "Förskoleklass" is not mandatory.

Comparison with the American educational system

The Swedish educational system has its own distinctions and is as such not directly comparable to other educational systems such as the one in the United States. There is however a need to compare degrees and the educational or academic levels attained through a completed education.

While the Swedish educational system is regulated by the Government of Sweden, the American educational system is regulated at the state level. Furthermore, the definition and duration of primary and secondary school in the US and the names they are called (e.g., elementary school, grade school, middle school, junior high school, high school, senior high school) can vary within a state making comparisons with other countries difficult. To simplify, a typical mainstream American educational system is compared with the mainstream Swedish educational system, where special education is not included in mainstream education.

In the US, children are typically required to attend primary school and secondary school from age 6 to 18. After completing high school, many Americans continue with higher education in a community college, college, or university. In comparison, Swedish children are required to attend "grundskola", compulsory school, from age 7 to 16, where "grundskola" is a combination of primary and secondary school. After "grundskola", many Swedes attend the elective "gymnasieskolan", upper secondary school, choosing either a university-preparatory programme or a vocational programme. Students who choose a vocational programme normally terminate their education after "gymnasieskolan" while students who choose a university-preparatory programme normally continue with higher education at a university or university college. Students who choose a vocational programme can continue with higher education but may need to take additional courses before being eligible to apply. Comparatively, in terms of education, the latter half of "gymnasieskola" corresponds to the freshman or first year of higher education in the US.dubious

In Sweden, "grundskola" students are required to learn how to swim as a part of their physical education. Since 1 September 2007, students in årskurs 5 must be able to swim 200 meters, with 50 meters on their back. [cite web
url =;jsessionid=D406A818AA5FCB9D20BDA74E5D00D5C4
title = Nu ställs större krav på simundervisningen
first = Kristin
last = Lindqvist
accessdate = 2007-08-31
author = Skolverket
authorlink = Skolverket
date = 2007-08-27
publisher = Skolverket
language = Swedish

In the US, high school students typically take a government-paid Driver's Education course at their high school. Thus, many Americans have a driving permit or a driver's license by the age of 18. In contrast, Swedes typically learn how to drive by paying for a course at a private driving school ("trafikskola"). Since driving school can be quite expensive, many Swedes obtain their driver's license when they are older than 18.

Prior to 1 July 2007, there was no real concept of undergraduate education in Sweden. Since 1 July 2007, undergraduate education in Sweden consists of all higher education degrees that are normally obtained in the first 5 years (Master, Bachelor, University Diploma and all professional degrees). In the US, undergraduate education is considered higher education degrees that are normally obtained in the first 4 years (Bachelor and Associate degrees).

Graduate education in the US consists of the Doctorate and Master degrees. Postgraduate education is additional training after being awarded a Doctorate degree. In contrast, postgraduate programmes in Sweden are at the graduate level and consist of the Doctorate and Licentiate degrees. (The Master degree is a part of undergraduate education.)

ee also

*Professional degree (Tertiary education)
*Student degree (Secondary education)
*List of universities in Sweden
*Swedish Scholastic Aptitude Test
*Swedish student culture

*Swedish National Union of Students
*Swedish National Agency for Education
*Swedish National Agency for Higher Education
*Government agencies in Sweden


External links

* [ Study in Sweden]
* [] - Centralized portal for application and information of higher education in Sweden (in Swedish)

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