The Swedish parliament has passed a law outlining tuition and application fees for students not from an EU/EEA country or Switzerland. These fees will apply from the 2011/2012 academic year but will be supplemented by scholarship programs.
More information on fees can now be found in the section Fees and costs.
Up until now, Sweden has been one of the few countries in Europe that has not charged any types of fees. All students—regardless of nationality—have been funded by Swedish taxpayers. Global competition for talent is increasing sharply and the government wants Swedish universities to compete on equal terms with universities in other countries. In the last decade, the number of foreign students has more than tripled, totaling 36,000 in 2008/2009. The government now wants to reallocate some of this money to award higher education institutions that show particular excellence.
Photo: Hans Bjurling/Image Bank Sweden
As a member of the European Union, the rules for Swedes also apply to citizens of other EU or EEA countries, and Switzerland. Exchange students are also exempt from fees, as their studies are regulated by agreements between Swedish and foreign universities. Thus, the new rules apply only to free movers from outside the EU/EEA studying at the bachelor’s or master’s level. PhD programs will continue to be tuition-free.
As these non-EU/EEA students add value to the Swedish educational system and are an attractive talent base, the government will introduce two scholarship programs. These scholarships will be available to bachelor’s and master’s students.
Starting in 2011, one of the scholarship programs will be endowed with SEK 30 million per year, and is aimed at students from countries with which Sweden already has long-term development cooperations. These countries are Bangladesh, Bolivia, Burkina Faso, Cambodia, Ethiopia, Kenya, Mali, Mozambique, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda, and Zambia.
Another scholarship program will be administered by universities directly and is open to all students from outside the EU/EEA. The budget will be SEK 30 million (€ 3 million) for 2011, and will be increased to SEK 60 million for 2012.
This will give qualified students who lack the appropriate funding the continued opportunity to study in Sweden. Additionally, foreign students subject to fees and with a residence permit of at least one year would be fully insured through the national health care system.
Moreover, the Swedish government recently introduced more liberal labor migration laws, making it much easier to move to Sweden for work—or stay in Sweden after studies. Students that have a job when their student permit expires can easily change this into a work permit. Also, there is no set quota for work permits for foreign citizens.
Below, we have collected what you should know about the new rules.
Tuition and application fees
- Why is Sweden planning to introduce tuition fees?
A vast majority of the European Union’s member countries charge tuition fees and the Swedish government wants Swedish higher education institutions to compete on equal terms. Also, the government wants to use some of the money that today finances foreign students’ fees to award institutions that have shown particular excellence. In the long run, this will make Swedish higher education even more attractive in the increasing global competition.
– Will students who begin two-year studies in 2010 have to pay fees in their second year?
No, students who start a program before tuition fees are introduced will be able to complete their studies according to the rules of the old system.
- Will the fees apply to exchange students?
No, those students who take part in an exchange between a Swedish university and university in their home country will not be subject to Swedish tuition fees.
- How high will tuition fees be?
The fees will be set by the institutions themselves. They will cover the full cost of studies. Therefore the fee levels may vary depending on the type of course and institution, and in what part of Sweden the course is given. See our information about fees and costs.
- Will there be application fees?
For students from outside the EU/EEA and Switzerland, there will be an application fee of SEK 900 starting with autumn semester 2011.
- When will tuition fees need to be paid?
When applying for a residence permit for studies before coming to Sweden, students need to have paid at least for the first semester of their studies. As before, students need to show that they can support themselves during their stay in Sweden, see next question for details.
- What is the cost of living in Sweden?
The amount of money that you need to have to cover your cost of living is SEK 7,300 per month. This amount is set by the Swedish Migration Board and you will need to show that you can cover this cost for the duration of your study permit.
- What will be the total cost for studying in Sweden?
The total cost will be one to three years of tuition fees (depending on the study program), plus one to three years of the required amount to cover your living expenses, i.e. SEK 73,000 per year (calculated for ten months).
- Why don’t students from EU countries have to pay fees?
Higher education in Sweden is funded by taxes and is therefore free for Swedish citizens. As a member of the European Union, the rules for Swedes also apply to citizens of other EU countries.
- Will there be scholarships?
Yes, the government plans to introduce a scholarship program for students from 12 developing countries (Bangladesh, Bolivia, Burkina Faso, Cambodia, Ethiopia, Kenya, Mali, Mozambique, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda, and Zambia) alongside a second scholarship program that is not geographically limited. As soon as more information is available it will be posted here.
Studying in Sweden
- How can I study for a PhD?
Gaining admission to PhD programs in Sweden is very competitive. Studying for a master’s degree in Sweden gives you a chance to show that you can excel in your studies, which will make it easier for you to gain admission to a PhD program at a Swedish university.
- What is the language of instruction?
Most courses are taught in Swedish. However, a large number of courses and programs at master’s level are taught entirely in English because institutions want to be able to attract foreign as well as national students.
- Can I work in Sweden after my studies?
This depends very much on the subject you have studied. Students that have a job when their student permit expires can easily change this into a work permit. Also, there is no set quota for work permits for foreign citizens. See the current labor shortage list to find out which skills are in demand.
- Will I be able to work during my studies to cover some of the cost?
Yes, you are allowed to work alongside your studies. Please note, however, that for the visa application, you will need to show that you have sufficient funding to cover your living expenses for the duration of your study permit, excluding the summer break (SEK 7,300 per month, during the semester, i.e. SEK 73,000 per year). In other words, you cannot rely on being able to work alongside your studies to cover your living expenses.