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Sweden:Overview

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Overview Sweden

Contents

Sweden:Political, Social and Economic Background and Trends

Sweden:Historical Development

Sweden:Main Executive and Legislative Bodies

Sweden:Population: Demographic Situation, Languages and Religions

Sweden:Political and Economic Situation

Sweden:Organisation and Governance

Sweden:Fundamental Principles and National Policies

Sweden:Lifelong Learning Strategy

Sweden:Organisation of the Education System and of its Structure

Sweden:Organisation of Private Education

Sweden:National Qualifications Framework

Sweden:Administration and Governance at Central and/or Regional Level

Sweden:Administration and Governance at Local and/or Institutional Level

Sweden:Statistics on Organisation and Governance

Sweden:Funding in Education

Sweden:Early Childhood and School Education Funding

Sweden:Higher Education Funding

Sweden:Adult Education and Training Funding

Sweden:Early Childhood Education and Care

Sweden:Organisation of Programmes for Pre-Primary Education

Sweden:Teaching and Learning in Programmes for Pre-Primary Education

Sweden:Assessment in Programmes for Pre-Primary Education

Sweden:Organisation of the Pre-Primary Class

Sweden:Teaching and Learning in the Pre-Primary Class

Sweden:Assessment in the Pre-Primary Class

Sweden:Organisational Variations and Alternative Structures in Early Childhood Education and Care

Sweden:Single Structure Education (Integrated Primary and Lower Secondary Education)

Sweden:Organisation of Single Structure Education

Sweden:Teaching and Learning in Single Structure Education

Sweden:Assessment in Single Structure Education

Sweden:Organisational Variations and Alternative Structures in Single Structure Education

Sweden:Upper Secondary and Post-Secondary Non-Tertiary Education

Sweden:Organisation of Upper General and Vocational Secondary Education

Sweden:Teaching and Learning in Upper General and Vocational Secondary Education

Sweden:Assessment in Upper General and Vocational Secondary Education

Sweden:Organisation of Post-Secondary Non-Tertiary Education

Sweden:Teaching and Learning in Post-Secondary Non-Tertiary Education

Sweden:Assessment in Post-Secondary Non-Tertiary Education

Sweden:Higher Education

Sweden:Types of Higher Education Institutions

Sweden:First Cycle Programmes

Sweden:Bachelor

Sweden:Short-Cycle Higher Education

Sweden:Second Cycle Programmes

Sweden:Programmes outside the Bachelor and Master Structure

Sweden:Third Cycle (PhD) Programmes

Sweden:Adult Education and Training

Sweden:Distribution of Responsibilities

Sweden:Developments and Current Policy Priorities

Sweden:Main Providers

Sweden:Main Types of Provision

Sweden:Validation of Non-formal and Informal Learning

Sweden:Teachers and Education Staff

Sweden:Initial Education for Teachers Working in Early Childhood and School Education

Sweden:Conditions of Service for Teachers Working in Early Childhood and School Education

Sweden:Continuing Professional Development for Teachers Working in Early Childhood and School Education

Sweden:Initial Education for Academic Staff in Higher Education

Sweden:Conditions of Service for Academic Staff Working in Higher Education

Sweden:Continuing Professional Development for Academic Staff Working in Higher Education

Sweden:Initial Education for Teachers and Trainers Working in Adult Education and Training

Sweden:Conditions of Service for Teachers and Trainers Working in Adult Education and Training

Sweden:Continuing Professional Development for Teachers and Trainers Working in Adult Education and Training

Sweden:Management and Other Education Staff

Sweden:Management Staff for Early Childhood and School Education

Sweden:Staff Involved in Monitoring Educational Quality for Early Childhood and School Education

Sweden:Education Staff Responsible for Guidance in Early Childhood and School Education

Sweden:Other Education Staff or Staff Working with Schools

Sweden:Management Staff for Higher Education

Sweden:Other Education Staff or Staff Working in Higher Education

Sweden:Management Staff Working in Adult Education and Training

Sweden:Other Education Staff or Staff Working in Adult Education and Training

Sweden:Quality Assurance

Sweden:Quality Assurance in Early Childhood and School Education

Sweden:Quality Assurance in Higher Education

Sweden:Quality Assurance in Adult Education and Training

Sweden:Educational Support and Guidance

Sweden:Special Education Needs Provision within Mainstream Education

Sweden:Separate Special Education Needs Provision in Early Childhood and School Education

Sweden:Support Measures for Learners in Early Childhood and School Education

Sweden:Guidance and Counselling in Early Childhood and School Education

Sweden:Support Measures for Learners in Higher Education

Sweden:Guidance and Counselling in Higher Education

Sweden:Support Measures for Learners in Adult Education and Training

Sweden:Guidance and Counselling in a Lifelong Learning Approach

Sweden:Mobility and Internationalisation

Sweden:Mobility in Early Childhood and School Education

Sweden:Mobility in Higher Education

Sweden:Mobility in Adult Education and Training

Sweden:Other Dimensions of Internationalisation in Early Childhood and School Education

Sweden:Other Dimensions of Internationalisation in Higher Education

Sweden:Other Dimensions of Internationalisation in Adult Education and Training

Sweden:Bilateral Agreements and Worldwide Cooperation

Sweden:Ongoing Reforms and Policy Developments

Sweden:National Reforms in Early Childhood Education and Care

Sweden:National Reforms in School Education

Sweden:National Reforms in Vocational Education and Training and Adult Learning

Sweden:National Reforms in Higher Education

Sweden:National Reforms related to Transversal Skills and Employability

Sweden:European Perspective

Sweden:Legislation

Sweden:Institutions

Sweden:Glossary

Key features of the Swedish education system

Almost half the Swedish population is involved in some form of orginised education. All education, from preschool class to higher education, is free of charge. Sweden has among the highest public spending on education relative to GDP in the EU. 

A desentralised education system

Sweden has a decentralised education system, steered by goals and learning outcomes defined at central level. The government has the overall responsibility and sets the framework for education at all levels. 

Municipalities (kommuner) in Sweden are responsible for organising education within:

The major part of school funding on those levels, including grant-aided independent schools (fristående skolor), comes from municipal tax revenues. Grant-aided independent schools are open to all and follow the same curricula as municipal schools do.

Higher education is provided by state universities (universitet) and state university colleges (högskolor) as well as by private institutions. Some of the private higher education institutions receive state subsidies.

Higher vocational education (yrkeshögskola) is provided by state universities, state university colleges, municipalities, county councils and independent education providers. Every year, the Swedish National Agency for Higher Vocational Education (Myndigheten för yrkeshögskolan) calls for applications from education providers who want their education programmes to be part of the Swedish higher vocational education. Approved applications are valid for two education rounds, after which the provider has to hand in a new application. 

Focus on life-long learning

An overall aim of the education system in Sweden is to strengthen the students' foundations for lifelong learning. This is for example expressed through the curricula for compulsory and upper secondary school. 

Sweden has a comprehensive system of adult education consisting of municipal and liberal adult education (folkbildning). Higher education and higher vocational education are free of charge and Swedish citizens are entitled to post secondary student aid (studiemedel) until the year they turn 56. The study support system is equal for all and principally granted independently of parents' or family's financial situation.

The teaching profession

The current teacher education programmes in Sweden include four different professional degrees:

  • a degree in preschool education
  • a degree in primary school education
  • a degree in subject education
  • a degree in vocational education

The teaching profession has for many years struggled with declining status. The government has during the last years initiatiated several reformes to improve the status of the teaching profession and to increase the number of applicants to the teacher education programmes.

Stages of the Swedish education system

Compulsory school (grundskola) begins at the age of seven and ends at the age of 16. Preschool (förskola) is heavily subsidised and available from about the age of one. More than 90 percent of the children attend preschol and about 95 percent of the six year olds attend preschool class (förskoleklass). 

Upper secondary school (gymnasieskola) consists of 18 national programmes and five introductory programmes (introduktionsprogram) for students who are not eligible for a national programme. Among the national programmes there are 12 vocational programmes (yrkesprogram) and six higher education preparatory programmes (högskoleförberedande program). Students usually start upper secondary school at the age of 16 and complete their upper secondary studies at the age of 19.

Students having not completed upper secondary school are able to attend municipal adult education (kommunal vuxenutbildning, Komvux) or folk high schools (folkhögskola). Students that have completed upper secondary school are, depending on their choise of upper secondary national programme and courses within the framework of individual options, also able to apply for universities (universitet), university colleges (högskola) and/or higher vocational education (yrkeshögskola).

Mainly as a result of the Bologna process, higher education in Sweden follows a three-cycle structure. First and second cycle education is referred to as undergraduate education and the third cycle as postgraduate education.     


2016 diagram SE.pngsource: Eurydice 2016

Useful links

The Swedish National Agency for Education

The Swedish Council for Higher Education

The Swedish Higher Education Authority

The Swedish National Agency for Higher Vocational Education

The Swedish National Council of Adult Education