What we do
The Swedish Higher Education Authority (UKÄ) is an independent government agency. Our operations comprise three main areas.
The operations of the Swedish Higher Education Authority are laid down in the instructions issued by the Government. These instructions define our areas of responsibility and the tasks to be undertaken. However, UKÄ takes decisions and applies the law independently.
Each year the Government issues a public service agreement that specifies the targets and the funding for these operations. The Government also assigns on-going tasks during the year, these are referred to as government assignments.
Three main areas
- Quality assurance of higher education and research, and appraisal of the degree-awarding powers of public-sector higher education institutions.
- Legal supervision of higher education.
- Monitoring efficiency, follow-up and horizon scanning as well as responsibility for statistics in the higher education sector.
In addition to this, UKÄ is the hosting authority for The Higher Education Appeals Board and The Higher Education Expulsions Board. This means that UKÄ’s staff provides administrative support to these boards.
Quality assurance and degree awarding powers
We evaluate the quality of higher education and research in Sweden. It is vital for students, employers and society at large that all higher education and research is of high quality.
Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) and the Swedish Higher Education Authority (UKÄ) have a shared responsibility for quality assurance in higher education and research.
The system consists of four components
The quality assurance system for higher education consists of the following four components:
- Institutional reviews of the HEIs' quality assurance processes
- Programme evaluations
- Appraisal of applications for degree-awarding powers
- Thematic evaluations
The reviews will be based on assessment areas developed in dialogue with representatives from HEIs, teachers, students, employers and the labour market.
The system is developed and implemented in accordance with the Higher Education Act, the Higher Education Ordinance and the Standards and Guidelines for Quality Assurance in the European Higher Education Area (ESG).
Statistics, follow-up and analysis
UKÄ monitors and analyses developments and trends within Swedish higher education. We are also responsible for official statistics on higher education.
We follow up and analyse the operations of higher education institutions, primarily to provide the Swedish parliament (Riksdag) and Government with material on which to base decisions about higher education.
We monitor developments in the higher education sector, mainly in Europe and the USA but also in the rest of the world.
Every year we publish a report containing the statistics collected on higher education in Sweden in which we deal with what has happened during the preceding year as well as long-term trends. In the report, we also make international comparisons.
The Swedish Higher Education Authority (UKÄ) is responsible for monitoring the efficiency of the operations of the higher education institutions. The Government's objective is that education and research at higher education institutions (HEIs) should maintain high international standards and be run efficiently.
The monitoring of efficiency at Swedish HEIs includes, for instance:
- Looking at the way the higher education institutions use their resources and in particular developing ways of monitoring
- Developing methods of measuring developments in efficiency and productivity in as many of the sector's tasks as possible.
The area to be monitored is a large one as it involves all of the operations of the higher education institutions.
UKÄ is looking at different phenomena in the higher education sector from the point of view of efficiency. This is undertaken in different ways depending on the theme of each separate study. We mainly use existing data that we have collected as the authority is responsible for statistics.
The Government has stressed that UKÄ's assessments of efficiency should provide effective support for the work of the higher education institutions and offer Government data that can be useful for monitoring and governing the higher education sector.
Official Statistics of Sweden
Sweden’s Official Statistics (SOS) are statistics that are particularly important for describing Sweden. Official statistics contribute to the development of our society by being objective and relevant, which benefits citizens.
Swedish Higher Education Authority has been tasked by the Government to be responsible for the official statistics within higher education. As a government agency responsible for statistics, we are responsible for ensuring that
- the statistics are objective;
- the statistics are documented; and
- the statistics are accompanied by a quality declaration.
Official statistics must be kept publicly available free of charge on the internet. All official statistics must bear the text Sweden’s official statistics and, or carry the logo
The logo and the text Sweden’s official statistics may not be used in further processing of the official statistics.
Government agency network
There are about thirty government agencies in Sweden who are responsible for the official statistics. Statistics Sweden is responsible for coordinating and supporting the system for official statistics.
The publishing calendar of Statistics Sweden tells which official statistics on higher education that we publish, in which form and when it is published:
The Swedish Higher Education Authority is a regulatory authority. This means that we review the compliance of Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) with the applicable rules and regulations in Sweden.
The Swedish Higher Education Authority has oversight of public HEIs with a focus on students’ rights, reviewing the compliance of HEIs with applicable rules and regulations. It applies, among other things, to the provisions of the Higher Education Act, the Higher Education Ordinance and the Administrative Procedure Act. We also review whether HEIs comply with their own rules.
The Swedish Higher Education Authority has different working methods for supervision: we process complaints, primarily from students; carry out HEI supervision; conduct targeted inspections when warranted, and have projects in which we investigate special issues.
Supervision can be initiated on behalf of the Government; on our own initiative, or following a complaint from an individual or an organisation.
The Swedish Higher Education Authority has oversight of state HEIs in Sweden and independent higher education providers entitled to award qualifications. Examples of independent higher education providers that we can review include Chalmers University of Technology, Stockholm School of Economics, and Jönköping University Foundation. However, they are only required to follow the same rules that apply to state HEIs to a limited extent.
Complaints are typically submitted to us by students and student unions. We can also open a case on our own initiative. Supervisory cases are important because they provide an example of how the rules are applied in practice.
Supervision is connected to UKÄ’s reviews of HEIs’ quality assurance procedures. The focus is on reviewing the legal issues covered in the Standards and Guidelines for Quality Assurance in the European Higher Education Area (ESG).
The result of HEI supervision may then provide a basis for our reviews of the HEIs’ internal quality assurance procedures, which are part of the system for quality assurance of higher education.
UKÄ carries out inspections at HEIs when we receive indications that a HEI has shortcomings in a certain legal area. The purpose of these targeted initiatives is to review on site the HEIs’ compliance with the regulations that apply to their operations. The results of the visit are compiled in a report.
- The Higher Education Appeals Board (ÖNH)
Some decisions taken by a HEI may be appealed. Most decisions are appealed to the Higher Education Appeals Board. Examples of decisions that may be appealed include: that the applicant is not qualified; that a student will not receive his or her diploma; that a student may not defer his or her studies or be granted leave from studies; and that a student may not be granted credit transfers from previous studies. Employment decisions may also be appealed to the Higher Education Appeals Board.
- Disciplinary measures: warning or suspension
The decisions of Swedish HEIs on disciplinary measures may be appealed to the administrative court.
- Independent higher education providers
Decisions by independent higher education providers may not be appealed to the Higher Education Appeals Board. Independent higher education providers may have internal rules regarding reconsideration of their decisions. For more information about this, consult the relevant HEI.
This page was last updated 30 June 2023