A third of young Swedes have studied abroad: survey

A third of Sweden's young people have been abroad for educational purposes, according to new figures released by Swedish number crunchers Statistics Sweden.

A third of young Swedes have studied abroad: survey
A Swedish student at a university library. Photo: Anders Wiklund/TT

Of the 2.2 million people in Sweden aged between 18 and 34 in 2014, around 700,000 had been abroad for learning purposes at least once in their lives – a third of the age group surveyed.

Almost a fifth (17 percent) of those in the sample that had completed post-secondary school education had been abroad for at least three months within their post-secondary studies meanwhile.

That puts Sweden close to reaching the European Union's target of at least 20 percent of those who have completed higher education in the EU having studied or trained abroad by 2020.

For some perspective on the Swedish numbers, In Spain and Italy by comparison, only 10 percent had been abroad for three months or more within their post-secondary studies, while in Portugal it was 11, and Belgium 16.

Competence in English has likely contributed to Sweden’s abundance of willing young travellers. The most recent edition of the English Proficiency Index (EPI) rated Swedes as the third-best non-native English speakers in the world, suggesting language would be less of a barrier for a Swede considering studying abroad than it would be for other nations.

Statistics Sweden’s numbers also show that around six percent of young Swedes have completed an entire education programme abroad.

And the desire to travel among young Swedes isn’t limited to those who took the academic route in their education. One in ten who have completed upper secondary vocational education in Sweden have been abroad for at least two weeks within the framework of their studies – that’s already higher than the EU target in the area of six percent.