Record foreign degree holders head to Sweden

Record foreign degree holders head to Sweden
The number of foreign civil engineer degrees approved in Sweden has doubled in a year. Photo: Ulf Lundin/
Record numbers of doctors, engineers and teachers are among the tens of thousands of asylum seekers welcomed to Sweden over the past year, says the Swedish Council for Higher Education.

p { margin-bottom: 0.25cm; line-height: 120%; }a:link { }

Degrees from abroad need to be validated by the Swedish Council for Higher Education (Universitets- och högskolerådet, UHR). It says the number of civil engineer degrees approved has doubled in a year, thanks to record numbers of refugees coming to Sweden.

“The figure has been increasing during a long period and this year we can tell that it continues to rise,” Lars Petersson, departmental manager at UHR told Swedish broadcaster SVT on Wednesday.

He said that the number of applications to have a degree from abroad recognized in Sweden has gone up by 55 percent in the past five years, from around 5,000 in 2013 to 7,739 in 2014.

In 2014 UHR approved 920 applications from foreign civil engineers. The year before that, the same figure was 401.

“These are skills, of which there is a shortage, being brought straight  into the Swedish jobs market,” said Petersson and added the figures were still on the rise.

Sweden's National Board of Health and Welfare (Socialstyrelsen), responsible for validating degrees in medicine and dentistry, confirms the trend. Applications received by the board increased by 36 percent from 2013 to 2014.

Sweden takes in a bigger share of asylum seekers than any other EU member state, when compared to existing population size.

Around 9.7 million people live in the Nordic nation and asylum was granted to more than 33,000 refugees last year.

The country’s open approach to immigration remains a hot topic, with centre-right opposition parties now mooting the idea of moving towards much-criticized temporary residency permits rather than permanent asylum.