Types of Basic and Higher Education Programs in Sweden

The Swedish education system offers abundant education opportunities for children of all age group. This incorporates regular schooling as well as education for children with disabilities. Extracurricular activities or after school activities are available as well, mostly free of cost.

The Swedish education system consists of different types of schooling and education programmes designed for individuals of different age groups and with different requirements and capabilities.

  • Preschool class
  • Leisure-time centres
  • Other pedagogical activities
Compulsory school
  • Upper secondary school
Non Compulsory School
  • Adult education
  • Supplementary school
  • Folk high schools (independent adult education colleges)
  • Higher vocational education
  • Universities and university colleges
Swedish education is characterized by students taking responsibility for their own studies, and the relaxed and informal relationship with teachers. In terms of research, Sweden aims to be one of the most R&D-intensive countries in the world.

The Swedish state school system encompasses compulsory schooling and a number of voluntary schooling. Compulsory school comprises nine years of basic schooling, special school, and school for the Saami people of Northern Sweden, and compulsory schooling for the psychologically handicapped.

Post-compulsory education is offered through 17 National Programmes providing qualifications that let students to go on to higher education. Some of these programmes also consist of industrial work positions.

The National Programmes of upper secondary education are offered at Gymnasia and bring about the award of the Slutbetyg Fran Gymnasieskola. There is no tuition fee. Other than the upper secondary school system there are folk high schools (Folkhogskolan) which impart state-supported adult education which take one to three years to complete the studies. There are no formal examinations.

Post-secondary studies comprise advanced occupational training (Kvalificerad yrkesutbilding) which is planned to meet the employment market's needs for the proficiency required for present day production of goods and services. About one-third of the course period takes place at the workplace. As from January 2002, this form of training is a permanent part of the Swedish educational system but does not belong to the higher education sector. Admission is based on three-year upper secondary education or corresponding proficiency. The training is usually intended to epitomize two years of study and leads to a Certificate of Advanced Vocational Training (Kvalificerad yrkesexamen).

Higher Education System in Sweden

Swedish universities are independent authorities. This makes them nimble and flexible, able to quickly offer new courses that answer to the changing needs of students and labour markets. The result is an internationally relevant array of courses to choose from.

The Swedish system includes not only conventional university studies, but also Teacher Training, Technical Training, Health Care Training, etc. It is the duty of: the central government, provincial authorities and private interests. All higher education organisations fall under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Education excluding the University of Agricultural Sciences (Ministry of Agriculture).

Higher education is separated into undergraduate studies (courses combined with regard to a first degree) and postgraduate studies and research. All education standards are weighed up and maintained by the Swedish Higher Education Authority and by the institutions themselves.

New and Updated Education System in Sweden

The International studies such as the TIMSS and PISA in recent years have indicated a lower level of knowledge amongst Swedish children. To help combat this taboo, Sweden has introduced several changes to its school education system:

New Education Act in Sweden

The Swedish Education Act from 2011 contains the basic principles for compulsory and further education, preschool, kindergarten, out-of-school care and adult education. This act promotes freedom of choice, student safety and security and greater knowledge.

New Curricula

The new curricula for compulsory schools for all students, special schools Sami schools and upper secondary schools (high schools) came into force on July 1st, 2011. The new curricula contain new guidelines, syllabuses and general goals. The pre-school curriculum includes clearer goals for children’s linguistic and communicative development and for science and technology. Mandatory national subject tests are held in years 3, 6 and 9 of compulsory school to assess student progress. There are also new qualification requirements for areas including upper secondary studies.

New Grading System

The old Swedish system of Pass (G), Pass with Distinction (VG), Pass with Special Distinction (MVG) and Did Not Pass (IG) has been replaced by a new grading scale with six grades from A to F. A to E are passing grades, with F as a failing grade. Since the fall term of 2012, grades are assigned starting in year sixth.

Introduction to Teacher Certification

Beginning 1st December 2013, professional certification is required for school and primary/nursery school teachers on permanent contracts. The decision, a milestone in Swedish education policy, aims to raise the status of the teaching profession, supporting professional development and thus increasing quality in education.

Some facts about the Sweden Educational School System

  • In Sweden, all children between the ages of 7-16 must attend school.
  • Education is compulsory and free of charge.
  • Almost all compulsory school students continue on directly to upper secondary school (gymnasium).
  • Academic year: Classes from: Aug to: Jun
  • Longest vacation from: 15 Jun to: 15 Aug
  • Languages of Instruction: Swedish, English
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