Universities aiming for innovation

Sweden strives to be one of the world’s most innovative and research-intensive nations. Nearly four per cent of Sweden’s GDP goes towards research and development – one of the highest rates in the world.

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Photo: Ulf Lundin/

Leading areas

An active research policy approach has enabled Sweden to acquire a leading position in several areas. One is environmental technology, particularly the treatment of emissions and toxic substances in production and manufacturing processes. Sweden also has a high level of expertise in nanotechnology research, where several major Swedish companies – including ABB, Sandvik and Höganäs – have become market leaders.

The bulk of the research taking place in Sweden – about 75 per cent – is financed by companies. These investments have helped companies including Ericsson, Sandvik and the Volvo Group become leaders in their fields.

There are 14 public universities and 20 public university colleges in Sweden, but there are also a number of independent institutions of higher education, like Stockholm School of Economics and Chalmers University of Technology. Swedish universities regularly place highly in global rankings like the Times Higher Education World University Rankings and the Shanghai Jiao Tong Academic Ranking of World Universities, and the research carried out there has contributed to the global success of Sweden’s many high-tech companies.

Who pays and who doesn’t?

Higher education in Sweden is financed largely by tax revenue. Tuition fees are fully subsidised for students from Sweden, the EU/EEA area, and Switzerland. Students from outside the EU/EEA and Switzerland pay tuition fees but scholarship programmes that cover tuition and living costs are available for a number of non-EU countries.

All Swedish university students are entitled to financial assistance, partly in the form of a grant and partly as a loan. Repayment of the loan is income-linked, with the loan to be repaid by the student’s 60th birthday. Foreigners who have a permanent residence permit in Sweden may be entitled to Swedish financial assistance for studies both in Sweden and abroad. You can read more about it on www.csn.se.

More info?

If you want to read more about Swedish higher education, you might want to check out Studyinsweden.se, a comprehensive resource for information, geared to prospective students from outside Sweden.

Last updated: 5 December 2014