Swedish universities double number of overseas students

James Savage
James Savage - [email protected]
Swedish universities double number of overseas students

The number of foreigners studying in Sweden has doubled since the late 1990s, with the number from Asia increasing five-fold.


France, Germany and Finland together account for a quarter of all overseas students in undergraduate and masters programmes in Sweden, according to a new report from the Swedish National Agency for Higher Education (Högskoleverket).

Sweden's popularity has increased in all the world's regions over the past decade, with recruitment from Asia particularly successful. Nearly 23,000 people from abroad studied at Swedish institutions in 2004-05, accounting for one in seventeen students. The figure was up from just under 20,000 in 2003-04 and just 9,000 in 1997.

Of those students studying their entire course in Sweden, the largest countries of origin were Finland, India, China, Norway and Pakistan. In 1997, only 14 Indians were studying in Sweden - by 2005, that figure was 926. Similar rises were recorded among Chinese students. Iranians also experienced a big jump, from 58 in 1997 to 227 in 2005.

Of the 100,000 exchange students in Sweden in 2004-05, eight out of ten were from Europe and one out of ten from North America. The largest countries of origin were Germany, France, Spain, Finland and the United States.

The most popular courses among foreign students in Sweden were in law and social sciences, with around a quarter of overseas students studying these subjects. Almost as popular were technology-related courses.

Lund University was the most popular destination for overseas students, with 2,968 of the nearly 40,000 studying there in 2004-05 coming from abroad. The Stockholm School of Economics (Handelshögskolan) was also popular, with 215 of its approximately 1,900 undergraduate and masters students from outside Sweden.

But while Sweden is becoming popular among overseas students, studying abroad has become less popular among Swedes. The proportion of Swedes studying outside the country fell from 7.7 percent to 6.8 percent between the 2001-02 and 2004-05 academic years.

The fact that Swedes are choosing to study later in life rather than straight after leaving school was put forward in the report as one reason for the fall. It was also suggested that students were not well-informed about the opportunities of studying abroad. Tightened rules on repaying student loans were also blamed.

Britain, the United States and Spain were the most popular overseas study destinations for Swedes, with Australia and Denmark gaining in popularity.


Join the conversation in our comments section below. Share your own views and experience and if you have a question or suggestion for our journalists then email us at [email protected].
Please keep comments civil, constructive and on topic – and make sure to read our terms of use before getting involved.

Please log in to leave a comment.

See Also