The administration of the Swedish education system is decentralised to municipal level and there is no regional administrative level for education although county councils may be responsible for upper secondary schools and adult education. The municipalities are responsible for the organisation of practically all public education below university level. Schools at the compulsory level are funded by municipal grants from the pupils' home municipalities and by state grants, i.e. are grant-aided, and free of charge. For more information on financing, see Chapter 3: Funding Education.
Administration and Governance at Central Level
The Ministry of Education and Research (Utbildningsdepartamentet) and the central authorities connected to it have the overall responsibility for central administration of the Swedish educational system. The ministry sets the frames for the education system and the agencies have the task to implement the law and ordinances, which means that the majority of those who work in the administration of the educational level is not employed at the ministerial level. Education administrated at national level includes:
- The Sami schools (sameskolan)
- Schools for pupils with impaired hearing (specialskolan)
- Higher education institutions.
All other education is organised at the local level.
The central administrative authorities work independently of the Ministries and decide within their own field of responsibility in accordance with guidelines drawn by the government, in general instructions and in the annual government appropriation directions. In all fields of state activity, there are state central authorities who are allocated funds annually through the government budget appropriation document based on a decision by the parliament and present each year a report of their activities to the responsible Ministry. The following agencies and organisations, amongst others, come under the auspices of the Ministry of Education and Research (Utbildningsdepartementet).
The Swedish National Agency for Education
The Swedish National Agency for Education (Skolverket) is the largest central authority in the school area. The authority is responsible for preschool activities (förskoleverksamhet), school-age childcare (skolbarnsomsorg), compulsory school (grundskola), upper secondary school (gymnasieskola) and the municipal adult education (kommunernas vuxenutbildning). The Agency puts forward proposals and monitors education. One of the main tasks of the Swedish National Agency for Education is to examine the quality and outcome of education in municipalities and grant-aided independent schools, as well as to supervise their activities. The Swedish National Agency for Education develops steering documents, e.g. syllabuses and grading criteria, and is responsible for examination issues concerning grant-aided independent schools. It also allocates funds to universities and university colleges for research into the school system, for the training programme for school heads, for competence development of teachers and personnel within the school on topics such as reforms, as well as for awarding teaching scholarships for competence development of individual teachers.
The Swedish Schools Inspectorate
The Swedish Schools Inspectorate(Skolinspektionen) ensures that local authorities and independent schools follow existing laws and regulations. The Schools Inspectorate is the central agency responsible for preschool, the welfare of schoolchildren, schools management and adult education (kommunal vuxenutbildning), and the aim of the Agency is to ensure the equal right of all children to a good education, in a safe environment. The Schools Inspectorate conducts regular supervision of all schools. The Schools Inspectorate is also responsible for granting licenses to new independent schools. Furthermore, it decides on applications for entitlement to subsidies and also monitors national supervision of upper secondary schools (gymnasieskolor).
The National Agency for Special Needs Education and Schools
The National Agency for Special Needs Education and Schools (Specialpedagogiska skolmyndigheten), is the central authority responsible for allocating public funds for special pedagogical issues. The institute creates and provides support to school organisers on special pedagogical issues related to disabilities.
The Swedish Higher Education Authority
The Swedish Higher Education Authority (Universitetskanslersämbetet) From January 1, 2013, the Swedish National Agency for Higher Education (Högskoleverket) ceased to exist as did The Swedish Agency for Higher Education Services (Verket för högskoleservice) and the International Programme Office for Education and Training (Internationella programkontoret). Their operations have been transferred to two new public authorities: the Swedish Higher Education Authority (Universitetskanslersämbetet) and the Swedish Council for Higher Education (Universitets- och högskolerådet). The Swedish Higher Education Authority is responsible for:
- Reviewing the quality of higher education
- Granting degree awarding powers
- Ensuring higher education institutions comply with relevant legislation and regulations
- Monitoring how efficiently the higher education institutions operate
- Responsibility for official statistics on higher education in Sweden
- Monitoring trends and developments in higher education
- Encouraging the professional development of administrators in higher education
The Swedish Council for Higher Education
The Swedish Council for Higher Education (Universitets- och högskolerådet) From January 1, 2013, the Swedish National Agency for Higher Education (Högskoleverket) ceased to exist as did The Swedish Agency for Higher Education Services (Verket för högskoleservice) and the International Programme Office for Education and Training (Internationella programkontoret). Their operations have been transferred to two new public authorities: the Swedish Higher Education Authority (Universitetskanslersämbetet) and the Swedish Council for Higher Education (Universitets- och högskolerådet). The Swedish Council for Higher Education is responsible for:
- Providing information about higher education
- Administering admission to study programmes on behalf of HEIs
- Recognising qualifications from abroad
- Promoting participation in international collaboration (e.g., national agency for Erasmus+)
The Swedish Board of Student Finance
The Swedish Board of Student Finance (Centrala studiestödsnämnden, CSN) is the central administrative authority for student’s social questions, and responsible for the allocation and repayment of financial support for studies, as well as following up and evaluating different systems for financing studies.
The Swedish National Council of Adult Education
The Swedish National Council of Adult Education(Folkbildningsrådet) is a non-commercial organisation with three members: The Swedish National Federation of Study Associations (Folkbildningsförbundet), the Swedish Association of Local Authorities and Regions (Sveriges kommuner och landsting, SALAR) and the Interest Organisation of Popular Movement Folk High Schools (Rörelsefolkhögskolornas intresseorganisation, RIO). Commissioned by the Government and the Riksdag, the Council allocates state appropriations to adult education associations and folk high schools, provides financial records and annual reports to the Government, follows up and evaluates liberal adult education activities. The Swedish National Council of Adult Education also works on behalf of its members by monitoring liberal adult education policy, providing information and co-ordinating international work.
The Swedish National Agency for Higher Vocational Education
The Swedish National Agency for Higher Vocational Education(Myndigheten för yrkeshögskolan). In July 2009 the Swedish National Agency for Higher Vocational Education was established to develop and oversee a new form of publicly funded vocational education at post upper secondary level.
Higher Vocational Education Courses, HVECs, cover a wide range of vocational areas and have one goal in common, namely the provision of advanced vocational education, tailored to the needs of the labour market.
HVECs are intended to serve the needs of job seekers and industries where competence and labour are in demand. Companies and the business sector are partners in the design and construction and content is jointly determined. HVECs last for at least six months and participant progress and outcomes are assessed and recognised by a certificate/diploma that validates their skills for employment.
The role of the Swedish National Agency for Higher Vocational Education is to set up a common framework agreed on and followed by vocational education and training providers. Content is based on the knowledge and experience of what is needed in working life.
As the Swedish National Agency for Higher Vocational Education is responsible for all publicly funded courses in vocational higher education throughout the country, the principal missions of the Agency are to determine what courses are to be provided, make decisions on public funding to be allocated to education providers, assess and audit quality and outcomes of courses, analyse and assess needs for skilled competence and the development of the labour market, coordinate and support a national framework for validation, and serve as the national coordinator for EQF – the European Qualifications Framework in Lifelong Learning.
Statistics Sweden (Statistiska centralbyrån, SCB) is the official statistics provider. It is commissioned by the Swedish National Agency for Education and the Swedish National Agency for Higher Education to collect data in the education area.
The Swedish Board of Student Finance (Centrala studiestödsnämnden, CSN)
Swedish National Council of Adult Associations (Folkbildningsrådet)
The Swedish National Agency for Higher Vocational Education (Myndigheten för yrkeshögskolan)
The Swedish Schools Inspectorate (Skolinspektionen)
The Swedish National Agency for Education (Skolverket)
Swedish National Agency for Special Needs Education and Schools (Specialpedagogiska Skolmyndigheten)