Higher education is divided in undergraduate studies and post-graduate studies and reSearch (in Swedish). In 1977, practically all post-secondary education, i.e. all university-type education as well as non-academic colleges for different kinds of vocational education and training, was incorporated into one system. This system, högskolan, included a strong element of national planning and regulation; and the aims and length as well as the location and financing of most study courses were laid down by Parliament. Until 1989, the State also established the curricula for each programme.
After the change of Government in Autumn 1991, a major reform was initiated, aiming at a deregulation of the unitary system of higher education and greater autonomy to the individual institutions of higher education. The reform was adopted by Parliament in 1992, and on 1 July 1993 a new Higher Education Act came into effect. It stated that the capacity of different courses and the allocation of grants between institutions will be influenced by the requirements of the individual students and the achievements of the individual institutions in terms of both quality and quantity. The organisation of study and range of courses on offer are determined locally and students have been given increased freedom of choice over study route within the framework of a new internationally valid Degree Ordinance, attached to the 1993 Higher Education Ordinance. The purpose of the institutions of higher education, as stated in the Higher Education Act of 1993, is to provide education and carry out reSearch (in Swedish) and artistic development; there should be a close connection between these two main duties. Emphasis is placed on quality and the effective use of available resources. Equality between men and women should be observed in all aspects of higher education. Universities and university colleges should also promote an understanding of other countries and international relationships.
State institutions are:
State-run universities and university colleges are central government agencies and their employees are civil servants.
AdmissionTo be admitted to higher education in Sweden, a student must first fulfill the general eligibility requirements which are common to all programmes or courses, and then meet the specific eligibility requirements which are usually imposed on applicants by the individual university or university college. The latter vary according to the field of education.
The general eligibility requirements for undergraduate education are the successful completion of a 3 year national programme of the upper secondary school or other equivalent Swedish of foreign education or the acquisition of the equivalent level of knowledge, e.g. through work experience. Applicants with a mother tongue other than one of the Nordic languages shall possess the requisite knowledge of Swedish, acquired e.g. through a preparatory course in Swedish of one year's duration.
Responsibility for the admission and selection of students rests with the institutions themselves. Within a generally formulated framework, they are able to decide what selection criteria shall be used for admission to their courses and whether the admission procedure shall be carried out locally or by using the central service function provided by the National Agency for Higher Education. For the selection of students one or more of the following criteria are applicable: school marks; results on the university aptitude test (a national, non-compulsory test) which is common for all institutions of higher education or a special test (e.g. interviews), or previous education and work experience.
During the 1970's and 1980's the Swedish higher education system had a nearly constant capacity with a total number of entrants of between 40.000 and 45.000 per year in spite of considerable increase in the demand for higher education. Since 1991, however, there has been a steady expansion of the total number of places for undergraduate studies and by the mid-1990s the increase of students will be about 30 percent.
Roughly 30% of young persons go on to higher education after completion of their compulsory and upper secondary schooling. Apart from students coming straight from school, the post-secondary student population includes a relatively large proportion of mature students, i.e. students who have previously acquired various amounts of work experience.
Student FinanceHigher education is free of charge. The post-secondary study assistance scheme applies to students in undergraduate education at universities, university colleges and certain other establishments, as well as to students aged 20 and over attending upper secondary school and other forms of upper secondary schooling. This study assistance consists of a non-repayable grant plus a larger repayable loan, awarded for both full-time and part-time studies.
Academic YearThe academic year comprises 40 weeks, divided into two semesters. The Autumn term usually runs from the middle or end of August to mid-January, the Spring term runs from mid-January to the beginning of June. There is usually a two-week teaching break at Christmas.
Courses/QualificationsIn the new system of undergraduate education, students are able to choose their study route freely and to combine different subject courses into a degree. For study intended to lead to a degree, courses may be combined to form an educational programme, if the university or university college so wishes.
The requirements for various courses of study are set out in the Degree Ordinance. All courses and educational courses also have to follow curricula, established by the individual university or university college. Undergraduate studies are available in the form of study courses or as single-subject courses. A first degree programme will generally take between 2 and 5½ years to complete. The single-subject courses vary in length from 5 weeks to 1½ years.
The average number of study hours is 40 hours per week for full-time studies, including individual studies and group work. Study time is measured in points; one week's full-time study is equivalent to one point and one term's full-time study to 20 points
Instruction takes the form of lectures to large groups (up to 300 students) and seminars of about 30 students. Students are also expected to participate actively in group work, laboratory work and seminars. The language of instruction is usually Swedish, but a great deal of the compulsory course literature is in English.
A number of courses include practical training in the relevant industry or the public sector. Sometimes the practical training takes place during the summer holidays . In many courses a large part of the final term is devoted to work on a degree project or thesis. Students work on these projects individually or in small groups.
There are two kinds of first degrees - general degrees and professional ones. The professional degrees are awarded upon completion of courses of varying length (2 to 5½ years), leading to specific professions, e.g. University Diploma in medicine or Education. The general degrees are:
AssessmentAll courses are subject to continuos examination, written and/or oral. There are, however, no final examinations which cover an entire three or five-year programme. This means that the students have to be prepared to give proof of the knowledge they have acquired every three or four week.
Marks are generally awarded on a three-level scale: Fail, Pass and Pass with distinction. Some courses are only graded Fail and Pass and some faculties, i.e. Engineering and Law, have other grading systems.
TeachersAs from the academic year 1993/94, each university and university college is entitled to decide on the establishment of chairs and the appointment of staff. The teaching staff are grouped into the following main categories: professors, senior lectures, lectures and reSearch (in Swedish) assistants. Since 1986 duties of different kinds - teaching, reSearch (in Swedish), personal study, educational counselling and administration - have been included in the same appointment. Professors have some teaching commitments but are mainly engaged in reSearch (in Swedish). Senior lectures must have a doctorate and be active in both reSearch (in Swedish) and teaching. lecturers are not required to have a doctorate. To be appointed, they must also have displayed proficiency in teaching undergraduates.
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