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Study in Sweden

Overview

While Sweden is an expensive country as far as living conditions are concerned, it is an ideal destination for students wishing to continue with their higher studies abroad. The current trend in most prestigious Universities has been to place their focus on extensive research and development. However, the Swedish Universities go out of their way to make education more student-centric. The programmes are crafted to suit the needs of the students and encourage team work. Sweden conforms to the Bologna Process which in basic terms standardizes education in all of Europe. This will ensure that an education in Sweden will open door to other prospects in the European continent as well.

The courses are broken down into small semesters to facilitate ease at the time of examinations.

Finally, the three kinds of degrees that are offered are Bachelor’s, Master’s and PhD (of two types, Licentiatexamen or Doktorsexamen).

Depending on your interests and the stage in your academic life, you might decide on a University of your choice. Swedish Universities also offer various scholarships to fund your education.

Education System

Like other countries, the education system in Sweden begins with the pre-school or förskola, followed by primary schooling which consists of lågstadiet, mellanstadiet and högstadiet which spans periods from one to three, four to six and seven to nine, respectively. This is the lowest rung on the ladder. The Gymnasium or the high school follows this stage and attended by children from ten to twelve years of age. Education in Sweden—compulsory for children ageing between six to fifteen—is about equal access and inclusion. Various international studies carried out in recent years have data that claims the quality of Swedish education is taking a hit. As far as mathematics, science and basic reading are concerned the students in Sweden are performing poorly. This data is the result of a study done at the request of none other than the Swedish Government itself.

With the Bologna Process existing to ensure compatibility with the rest of Europe—English is widely spoken—higher education comprises of basic, advanced and doctoral level. Some reasons for opting Sweden as the destination for your education would include the challenging curricula, sustainable environment, diversity and creativity, as well as student-friendly campus life for both national and international applicants.

While Sweden is an expensive country as far as living conditions are concerned, it is an ideal destination for students wishing to continue with their higher studies abroad. The current trend in most prestigious Universities has been to place their focus on extensive research and development. However, the Swedish Universities go out of their way to make education more student-centric. The programmes are crafted to suit the needs of the students and encourage team work. Sweden conforms to the Bologna Process which in basic terms standardizes education in all of Europe. This will ensure that an education in Sweden will open door to other prospects in the European continent as well.

The courses are broken down into small semesters to facilitate ease at the time of examinations.

Finally, the three kinds of degrees that are offered are Bachelor’s, Master’s and PhD (of two types, Licentiatexamen or Doktorsexamen).

Depending on your interests and the stage in your academic life, you might decide on a University of your choice. Swedish Universities also offer various scholarships to fund your education.

Top Courses

Swedes are great with cars, great with IT, and great with the environment. So, it’s not hard to guess which are some of the most popular study areas in Sweden.

These are degrees in Sweden:

  • Computer Science
  • Engineering
  • Arts degrees 
  • Environmental Studies
  • Cultural Studies
Social Anthropology
masters
Course Duration - 24 Months
Literature - Culture - Media General
masters
Course Duration - 24 Months
Sustainable Urban Design
masters
Course Duration - 24 Months
European Studies
masters
Course Duration - 24 Months
European Affairs
masters
Course Duration - 24 Months

Admission Process

The first step for applying to a University in Sweden would be to check the official website of the said University. Most of the times all the relevant information you would need to know would be available on that platform, such as curricula, deadlines, fee structure, application process, relevant documents, etc. More often than not the programme you are applying for will have a different, specific set of guidelines.

Note: Application processes, deadlines, etc. may change with your chosen discipline. Always confer with the University you have enrolled in before making any decisions. 

You should preferably start applying for your student visa/residence permit as soon as you finalize your University. The process can be long and tedious.

Your typical academic year in Sweden is divided into two semesters—the autumn semester and the spring semester. The application deadline for the former lies somewhere around mid to end January while the latter has its deadline around mid to end August.

Unless you are enrolling your minor child in a school in Sweden the following is the process to apply for higher education in Sweden. Any applications you send will be passed through a portal which will be then processed.

    1. The obvious first step would be to decide upon the perfect programme for you under your chosen discipline. As soon as you have fixed a particular programme the time comes for researching about the requirements of that programme, both general and specific. This is where you go back to your University’s official website. Once you have checked the requirements you must determine your eligibility. Depending in which semester you want to enter upon admission check the dates and deadlines. The usual route for application is online. This will include filling up of an online application form, submitting proof of eligibility (relevant documents), results of relevant language proficiency tests, documented proof of eligibility depending on specific programmes and an application fee of around 6550 INR. The limit for one round of application is 8 programmes.
    2. Once you are done with the round of online filing of application(s) you need to exercise patience and await the notification of your acceptance (or a letter of rejection, as it may be) from the University. Your application will undergo perusal almost immediately after the deadline ends. The selection process is carried out by the specific University you have applied in based on certain criteria. Oftentimes, a visit to the official website of the university will reveal the aspects on which they judge an application on. May be not very obviously; you just need to play detective.
    3. If its an acceptance letter that has come your way, you must pay the first instalment for the tuition and ensure that you have proof of payment as you will need it later. This step is excluded for EU/EEA/Nordic countries’ students.
    4. Begin applying for the student visa [PLEASE HYPERLINK THE SWEDEN STUDENT VISA ARTICLE AT THIS POINT] at this point—the earlier the better. There are two visas that can be applied for in Sweden. One is for general tourism, and the second one is known as the residence permit which is for international students.
    5. The final step will be sorting your affairs and booking your tickets. Make sure your diligence extends to this last step, too. Many times, the students make mistakes in reservations and regret later. Also make proper arrangements for when you reach Sweden so that there are no surprises when you land. Understand the basic local language and the ways of the Swedish people.

    1. The first step for applying for a Master’s programme is not so different from the Bachelor’s programme. You need to decide which discipline you want to do your master’s in and fix a programme for yourself accordingly. Having a list of Universities in Sweden will prove to be a useful tool while browsing for your ideal programme as merely knowing your programme will not be enough; the University you decide to apply to must also be a perfect fit.
    2. Understand your eligibility and the requirements from the official website of your University
    3. Apply (procedure and documentation as given above)
    4. If you receive the acceptance letter by the due date, congratulations! Begin with applying for a residence permits, and make your arrangements.

Tip: Remember, you must have a Bachelor’s degree from a recognized University. Regularly practicing the English alphabet (for non-native speakers) would not hurt, either.

    1. First step is—this is getting repetitive—going to the official website of your chosen University to get a list of the PhD programmes they offer.
    2. Requirements for qualification would include a university degree upto bachelor’s level or higher preferably continuing in the same discipline.
    3. Applying for PhD programmes can be a bit technical and specific; best confer with the University itself.

Cost of Attendance

An international student’s primary worry when thinking of applying for studies at a foreign University is the tally of expenses. Therefore, a thorough planning must be done accompanied by right and updated information. In recent times, affordability of education has been becoming an alien concept to most prestigious Universities. In Sweden, as far as yearly tuition fees are concerned University charges begin at almost 6,00,000 INR and may go up to 10,00,000 INR.

The cost of living is also an important factor to consider. This may vary a lot depending on your personal preference and standard of living. The things that may be included as absolute essentials—the cannot-do-withouts—and which you must include in your calculations are food, accommodation and commute. The internet charges cannot be ignored, either. It is unimaginable for a student to go without the use of internet in the current times. You can then go ahead and sort things like shopping for the latest trends, drinking, tourism, and other luxury items under the not-necessary label. Unless you are willing to splurge, that is.

Tuition:

In Sweden, as far as yearly tuition fees are concerned University charges begin at almost 6,00,000 INR and may go up to 10,00,000 INR. This burden is removed from the shoulders of students who are citizens of the European Union, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, Switzerland or just about any Nordic country including Denmark, Finland and Iceland, etc. While the application fee typically falls around 6,550 INR the tuition fees may change according to the subject you decide to do your bachelors/masters in. A good idea would be check the current charges for the programme you desire to enrol in at the outset from a reliable website. However, on a basic level the average amount you might need to set aside for tuition could be about 12,50,000.

One of the downsides could be that you would have to purchase your own books and stationery—which does not come cheap—which is an added expense.

Accommodation:

Accommodation costs will more often than not be affected by the city you choose to live in or find yourself in. Some popular cities are Gothenburg, Stockholm (two of the larger cities), Linkoping, Umea and Lund and Uppsala (the latter two considered to be traditional student cities). The monthly rent can be starting from 20,000 INR and can go as high as 1,82,000 INR depending upon the city, location and the number of rooms in your flat. You can check out an approximate breakup of rent costs and other expenses here.

However, these avenues are pretty expensive to invest in. It is always a better idea to get in touch with the University you are enrolling in. A lot of Universities have proper systems in place for granting accommodation to international students. Chances are you may find accommodation in the University campus itself. Dormitories or hostels are fun to live in. Washrooms, messes, laundry facilities are some things which would be used on a shared basis in such places. If rooms are not available, the University could still prove to be very helpful in giving you directions for the next best, viable option. There are better chances of you finding options with lesser rent after inquiring with your University. The pros and cons of student accommodation versus private accommodation must be understood before making a decision.

Social life in Sweden:

The social life in Sweden is pretty amazing. It would do one good to know some generic but essential facts about the place and local population before making the move. Language will probably not be a big problem but it might not be easy to connect.

Scholarships:

Getting scholarships can be a blessing for any student. With your education already being taken care of through your scholarship fund the load is considerably lightened. In Sweden, the government offers scholarships through Institute scholarships specially for the benefit of international students and research applicants. Other scholarships funded by organizations over the world are also available in Sweden beside University scholarships provided by specific universities.

Medical Insurance and Health Care:

You should also be prepared for any exigencies or emergencies and therefore health care and insurance must be included in your budget planning.

Student Unions:

Student Unions are a big deal in Sweden. They can be found at nearly every University in Sweden. Joining will open doors to a completely different social life with amazing night life and exciting opportunities to participate in co-curricular activities. Joining fees might vary differently with different Universities.

Looking at the right place and looking smart might prove to be very useful. After all, Sweden is counted as the second most costly country in the EU. It would be more prudent to understand your requirements and plan accordingly. Primary resources are best to understand the student life in any foreign country. Start connecting, or dig up alumni from your dream University.

Best student cities

Some popular cities/towns in Sweden include:

  • Marstrand—often referred to as the sailing capital of Sweden and famous for its exotic beauty and culture. There are various historical places to be found here.
  • Ystad—famous for historical sights and known for the famous Swedish writer Henning Mankell.
  • Visby—known for its beauty, it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
  • Sigtuna—oldest town in the country.
  • Rättvik—famous as being among the country’s top tourist destinations with attractions including piers and lakes.
  • Kiruna—known for its waterbodies and mountains.
  • Besides these, the city of Malmo, Stockholm, Gothenburg, Uppsala, etc. are famous cities with the biggest population traffic to be found here.

Visa

Steps to apply for Sweden Student Visa

Introduction to Visa Application for Students

Applying for student visas can be a trying process. International students have a lot on their plate preparing for tests that will actually determine their entry into their dream Universities without the added burden of visa-application processes which are tedious by their very nature. On top of that, they differ according to the country whose citizenship you hold.

Fear not. We are here to lay out the whole process before you in a comprehensive yet easy-to-understand manner.

Good for you if your ideal University lies in Sweden as the country has a clear and concise process for visa application. A prospective student usually begins with applying for a residence permit which you should ideally go for if you are not from the European Union (EU), the European Economic Area (EEA), Switzerland or any Nordic country. Once you obtain one, you will get twofold benefits. First, you will be eligible to work jobs to pay for your living expenses as you go. Second, a residence permit allows you to stay in the country for whole six months after your graduation so that it can be judged whether your talent, knowledge and your skills are worth keeping in the country.

Before beginning the application process, you should check your eligibility. Also make an effort to find other relevant things such as choosing your University based on your discipline choice, other language exams you must take, etc. that you must be aware of before you apply.

Step 1: Application

Application for a residence permit may be processed through hardcopy format or via online applications. The latter is usually the more expedient form and therefore more preferred. It would be good to keep in mind that visa applications are lengthy and time-consuming. You cannot afford last-minute fiascos in these matters; start the application process well before the due date in your calendar. The entire process should ideally not take more than three months to get through. However, precaution before cure and all that.

Step 2: Visa Fees

Certain fees are charged which are known as “visa fees”. It can be paid through online routes. At current exchange rates, the fee would amount to nearly 7280 INR.

Step 3: Relevant Documents

Following is a generic but concise list of documents you would need for applying for a residence permit. You must remember to add any other relevant document requested from you by your University to this list.

Valid passport with six-month validity existing at the time of applying (date of issuance of passport should not be preceding ten years from the date of applying for the permit)
True copy of the Enrolment Letter from your University stating explicitly the course duration
Proof of payment of first instalment of tuition fees (plus any other fees for your first term)
Documents proving your financial capability to ascertain whether you can comfortably pay for your opted course—through private means, scholarships or student loans
Documents showing proof of your financial capacity to pay for living expenses and minimum ten-month stay in the country (around 60,000 INR monthly)
Proof of health insurance if staying for around ten months—compulsory health insurance provided upon reaching Sweden if staying for longer period of time
Certificate and marksheet of standard X, XII or Graduation (whichever is applicable)
A Statement of Purpose or SoP of approximately 150 words stating your reason for choosing Sweden as opposed to your home country as the destination for further studies
Tip: These documents might also come in useful while applying for jobs while studying or later on. Keep them around. Having a handful of professional photographs of yourself in all relevant sizes would also prove to be a smart idea.

Step 4: Issuance

Who issues these residence permits? It is done by the Swedish Migration Agency which houses in Sweden. It is then sent to be processed by the Swedish Embassy in India.

Step 5: Actual Application Process

Receive enrolment letter from a University and prepare documents
Check and re-check your medical insurance
Fill up the online application form for residence permit
Pay the fee
Confirm submission from the Swedish Embassy and submit any other information asked by the Embassy/Consulate office, e.g., photographs, biometric information
You may also decide to extend the period of your residence permit.

This is as far as international students’ (excluding those from EU/EEA/Nordic countries) visa application is concerned. Students holding citizenship of countries from the EU/EEA or other Nordic countries have the luxury of staying in Sweden without going through the process of applying for visas/residence permits.

Finally, it is always a good idea to visit the official websites of the visa-issuing authorities to check any changes in policies or any other requirements.

Top Scholarships

Getting scholarships can be a blessing for any student. With your education already being taken care of through your scholarship fund the load is considerably lightened. In Sweden, the government offers scholarships through Institute scholarships specially for the benefit of international students and research applicants. Other scholarships funded by organizations over the world are also available in Sweden beside University scholarships provided by specific universities.

Work Opportunities

As an international student in a foreign country it is natural that you would face some problems with expenditure. You are young, and wild, and free. But of course, you have needs that require the occasional extra Swedish Krona. Cheesiness aside, working and juggling several part-time jobs at once has been becoming the prerogative of students both international and national since a long time now. Becoming independent fast becomes the top priority of students when they begin their higher education. Living away from your home and parents leaves one with a sense of responsibility. Paying your own rent and making your own meals would surely be highly satisfactory.

What job opportunities does Sweden house for international students?

For non-native speakers, looking for jobs in Sweden can be bit of a drag. Not to mention the fact that you would mostly be dead on your feet from the forty-odd hours of lectures every day.

The good news for international students with a residence permit is that you have an additional six months of stay permitted in Sweden after your graduation in which you can prove your mettle to show whether your skills are at par with what Sweden wants.

You can never begin early enough for applying for paid internships and jobs. If you are still a student and interested in working part-time you need to know that there is a lot of competition. First of all, Sweden is a very expensive country by anyone’s standards. You need to understand that working part-time would help but would not leave much after covering your living expenses, if that. As compared to after-graduation jobs, working part-time would require you to speak Swedish and speak it well. You might probably end up in working at the nearby Burger King, or the local bar and that requires you to be fluent in the local language. Secondly, you would probably be paid by the hour. You need to decide your priorities because time would be of essence. You cannot skip out on lectures as there is a fixed minimum hour-limit for that.

Depending upon the city and the area your University is in, the prospects may change. However, there is not a lot of scope for international students and that is the hard truth.

If you are really looking to decrease the load, you can work for scholarships. Also, if you are interested stay-at-home content writing jobs, etc. are also well paying.

If you are a graduate student you should ideally begin with inquiring in your University’s “career centre”. Most of the Universities will have it, and they can very ably direct you to the next step. They might also aid you in perfecting your CV according to the demands of the current market, give you counselling, test your interview skills, etc. You might need to register for this, though.

Arguably, the second step is at par with the first as far as importance is concerned. You need to have a reasonably good command on your Swedish-speaking skills. Perhaps even learn how to write it properly. Although Swedish people are big on speaking English nothing beats having the knowledge of the local language when filing job applications. Any ‘extra edge’ you might need would begin from here.

However, if you are more comfortable with English and want to stick to it, there is certainly no dearth of opportunities for you in Sweden.

While still in University, you might consider doing as many internships as possible. This is a Rule of Thumb in any University, be it at home or away. Internships give you experience and a steeliness that you would definitely require when stepping into the gruelling corporate world. More importantly, you get the opportunity of building exceptional connections and get a chance to be a part of important professional circles if you are smart about it. The best guidance you may get for this would be from the student unions/student organizations in your University. It might be time to pester your seniors, too.

Finally, three words. Publish, publish, publish! You would be told to write a thesis—a giant, million-page paper on a specific topic related to your discipline—at some point or other in your higher education. Make it original, concise and worthy of publication and presentation. Your dissertation might well hold the key to opening doors to hot-shot Swedish companies. For this, begin with choosing a topic with an idea which is both compatible with your chosen discipline and would sell like a hot cake in the market.

FAQs

Does Sweden have a good education?

The Swedeish School System, through the education act grants 10 years of schooling education, the moment a child turns 6 years old.

How expensive is it to study in Sweden?

Fees is normally in the range of SEK 50-350 per semester depending on the University.

When should a student apply for a student visa to Sweden?

On receiving an offer letter from a University and pay the advance fee deposit, you have to apply online for a student visa for Sweden, through the Swedish Migration Agency.