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EACEA National Policies Platform:Eurydice
Mobility and internationalisation


13.Mobility and internationalisation

Last update: 27 November 2023

This chapter will present existing programmes, projects and initiatives carried out in order to achieve national policy goals in mobility. Other dimensions of internaionalisation, like curriculum development, are also presented. The information will be organised into subsections corresponding to the three education levels and type of internationlisation. This chapter also gives information regarding Swedens involvement in bilateral agreements with third countries as well as in worldwide programmes and organisations.

Compulsory education schools, upper secondary schools, adult education and higher education, all take part in international cooperation through internationalisation of teaching and education nationally, as well as through transnational mobility of pupils, students and teachers as well as administrative staff. Swedish schools at all levels have since the beginning of the 20th century worked with various forms of international orientation. The internationalisation of higher education has been on the agenda in Sweden for about three decades.

Being a small country with a less spoken language, the educational rationale for internationalisation has always been strong in Sweden; the competitiveness of Swedish industry abroad is still an important factor. When Sweden actively started to seek membership of the European Union, politicians from various parties repeatedly stressed the need for a European orientation. This European bias has been balanced by a renewed focus on the role that Sweden can play in a wider international context. The traditional Swedish involvement in humanitarian and peacekeeping missions based on a policy of international non-alignment is also a factor of some importance.

Continued internationalisation is regarded as an important factor to improve the quality of the Swedish education system, in line with Government policy of securing Sweden’s position as a knowledge-oriented nation. The initiatives to broaden recruitment to higher education are parts of the internationalisation of education. To recruit more students with foreign background is a question of equality but also of quality, since a multitude of social backgrounds allow different perspectives and create valuable dynamic effects.

The main outlines of national educational policies are drawn by the Government (regeringen) and are expressed through steering documents including the Education Act (Skollagen), the Higher Education Act (Högskolelagen), and ordinances, national curricula, programme goals and syllabi. The Swedish Education Act makes no reference to internationalisation; instead the aims and tasks to be pursued by Swedish schools at all levels are in the national curricula and syllabi, and at a more detailed level locally, see 13.4 (Other Dimensions of Internationalisation in Early Childhood and School Education) and 13.5 (Other Dimensions of Internationalisation in Higher Education). The Higher Education Act stipulates that universities and university colleges in their activities should promote the understanding of other countries and of international conditions.

Provisions in the Higher Education Ordinance (Högskoleförordningen, SFS 1993:100) exemplify how the Swedish education system is influenced by international co-operation. In accordance with the Lisbon Convention, the Ordinance entails regulations about the recognition of higher education qualifications and stipulates that a Diploma Supplement shall be issued automatically together with higher education diplomas. Most higher education institutions have drawn up internationalisation plans and as a rule has administrators dealing with issues relating to internationalisation.

The European as well as the national programmes for mobility in education are administered by the Swedish Council for Higher Education (Universitets- och högskolerådet), established in January 2013. This is where you will find the following: 

•Support and information regarding international cooperation and academic exchange across the entire educational spectrum.

•Nordic and European exchange services for state officials and training in preparation for the EU's civil service exams. 

•Admissions regulations and admission processes for institutions of higher education. 

•Administration of the Swedish Scholastic Aptitude Test and information regarding studies at the higher education level.

•Evaluation of foreign academic qualifications.