Universities, university colleges and other education providers

Both university colleges and universities conduct research and provide higher education at various levels.

Universities and university colleges vary in how much focus is given to research. The older universities have more extensive research than university colleges and the newer universities.

Sweden has a uniform system for higher education with the same legislation, regardless of provider. HEIs primarily differ in that universities have been granted general degree-awarding powers at the second- and third-cycle levels, while university colleges must apply for entitlement to award degrees at the second- and third-cycle levels in specific areas.

The size of the HEIs also varies greatly. Measured in number of enrolled students, the largest university had more than 50,000 students for the academic year 2020/21, while the smallest HEIs had less than 50 registered students.

Education within the framework of higher vocational education providers

The purpose of higher vocational education is to meet the needs of the labour market, and theoretical studies are combined with courses given at workplaces. Programmes offered through higher vocational training are at level 5 and 6 in SeQF (The Swedish National Qualifications Framework) and are between six months and three years long. In total, they equal just under 16 per cent of post-secondary education. Thus, the vast majority of Sweden’s post-secondary education consists of higher education.

Higher vocational education and higher education are separate systems, and there is no regulated progression between the systems.

Read more about higher vocational education.

This page was last updated 15 November 2023