Universities aiming for innovation

Photo: Melker Dahlstrand/imagebank.sweden.se

Sweden strives to be one of the world’s most innovative and research-intensive nations. Around 3.3 per cent of Sweden’s GDP goes towards research and development – one of the highest rates in the world.

Leading research 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 – nearly 70 per cent – is privately financed. These investments have helped companies including Ericsson, Sandvik and the Volvo Group become leaders in their fields. The remaining 30 per cent of the research is publicly financed.


Nearly 30 per cent of Swedish research is carried out at universities. There are 14 public universities and 17 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 in Gothenburg. 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.

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.