Sweden might have first caught your eye because of its progressive politics and exemplary welfare system. You may have come across the country through IKEA furniture, scandinavian cake trends, or Volvo car adverts. Or you might have found yourself tempted by photos of picturesque Swedish mountains and lakes online. Whatever grabbed your attention, we’ve put together our top reasons to study in Sweden to help you understand the country a little better.
Renowned education system
Sweden has gained a strong international reputation for its approach to education. 11 of the country’s universities rank in the top 500 of the Times Higher Education World University Rankings, with Karolinska Institutet ranking highest in 36th place. Classes focus on making sure students are able to apply their learning independently and creatively. You’ll find that group projects and discussions are common, with lecturers keen to generate a conversation around topics and share feedback.
Tuition is free for students from EU and EEA countries, making Sweden’s world-leading education very accessible. International students from outside the EU are not eligible for free tuition, but you will find a wide range of scholarship opportunities and grants to help cover fees that can range from 80,000-295,000 SEK (7,900-29,000 EUR) per year.
Sweden has a particularly social and organised student body. At the start of the year, Swedish universities put on a student orientation week called ‘Nollning’. This is where you can attend icebreaker events, go on walking tours, and choose which student societies you want to join. Lund University even hosts small pop-up Swedish language classes, so you can refresh your speaking skills as you settle in. For international students in particular, universities encourage joining with local students in a ‘buddy programme’ or ‘study group’ - a great way to meet new friends instantly and get to know the local student spots.
Each university also has a student union that’s responsible for organising events and opportunities to meet other students throughout the year. If this sounds too conventional for you, don’t worry - there are lots of alternative Swedish traditions and activities to get involved in! For instance, the Flogsta Scream happens at 10pm every night at Uppsala University. It’s pretty simple - at the same time every night, students lean out of their windows and scream into the night. The purpose is to let off steam and make you feel like you’re not alone in your study struggles. Whatever works for you!
Diverse languages and lifestyle
Studying in Sweden is a great opportunity to learn a new language. And you’ll have a number of languages to choose from too! Swedish is the official language of the country, however, a number of Swedish people also speak fluent English, German, and Finnish. Universities have an international outlook and often offer language classes alongside students’ degree programmes. For example, Lund University runs a number of language café events each week where students can mingle, get to know each other, and practice their languages. You’ll be able to become multilingual over coffee and cake!
Outside of lectures, you’ll find that diversity isn’t just accepted in Sweden - it’s actively promoted and celebrated. For instance, the country is joint first in the ranking of safest countries for LGBT tourists by the Gay Travel Index 2020. And Stockholm is home to the largest gay pride event in Scandinavia! In addition to ranking highly in gender and LGBT equality indexes, Sweden is also known for being a cosmopolitan and youthful environment. Of the country’s ten million inhabitants, 85% live in cities, and almost two million are below the age of 18. So you’ll be in good company when it comes to figuring out your new life at university and socialising!
Extraordinary climate and landscapes
Exploring outdoors in Sweden is the ideal beak from studying. You won’t need to go far to breathe some fresh air either, as Sweden ranks 4th most clean country on the Numbeo World Pollution Index 2021. When you leave the city, you’ll find wildness and high alpine peaks in the north. In the east, you’ll be able to visit the Stockholm archipelago of 30,000 islands. And in the west is the rocky coastline and the Scandinavian mountain chain. Meanwhile, Conde Nast Traveller ranked the south of Sweden, with its rolling countryside and long beaches, as 8th best place to visit in Europe in 2021!
Sweden’s latitude means that the number of daylight hours in the summer and winter vary a lot. Summer is the best time to enjoy this, when the sun doesn’t go down until around midnight. You can join in with the Midsummer festival in June; this is one of the most celebrated events in the Swedish calendar - an endless lunch party that involves flower braids, singing songs, and eating a whole lot of pickled herring.
In the winter, the days are very short. For instance, the sun rises around 9am and sets at 3pm in Stockholm in January. Universities recognise that this lack of light might be a problem and provide student services to help. Uppsala University, for example, has a light therapy room in the student health centre so you can catch up on Vitamin D!
Career prospects and good work-life balance
As you get to the end of your degree, you’ll be keen to start looking at job options. Sweden ranks 8th overall in the World Economic Forum’s 2019 Global Competitiveness Report because of its innovation, environmental focus, and high rate of ICT adoption. Government funding in technology, climate change research, and medicine have stimulated growth, research, and job opportunities.
These factors make the country a great place to look for work in forward-thinking and cutting edge companies. There’s high demand for skilled graduates from around the world, particularly if you have a background in STEM. As much as 18% of Stockholm’s workforce were working in tech in 2014, with 22,000 technology companies based in the city: you’ll find every firm from IKEA and Electrolux, to Skype, Spotify, and Mojang!
Sweden’s progressive approach is also reflected in its workplace policy. The OECD ranked Sweden joint 8th in the world for its good work-life balance culture in 2019. You’ll find non-hierarchical structures and flexible working hours when you join the workforce. Parents are even entitled to 480 days of leave per child - one of the most generous policies in the world!
For more information about work permits and staying to work in Sweden as a graduate, head to our guide ‘The cost of studying in Sweden’.