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EACEA National Policies Platform:Eurydice
National reforms in higher education


14.Ongoing reforms and policy developments

14.4National reforms in higher education

Last update: 15 September 2023


Authorities to draw up guidelines for responsible internationalization

The Government gives the Swedish Council for Higher Education, the Swedish Research Council and Vinnova (innovation agency) the task of proposing how the work with responsible internationalization in higher education, research and innovation conducted at universities, with state research funders and other authorities can be promoted.

International collaborations in higher education and research are in many cases decisive for excellent research and innovation. The Government wants to create good conditions for making use of research results in both the public sector and business, as well as to contribute in a safe way to Swedish competitiveness and resilience. At the same time, openness in, among other things, research risks being exploited.

We live in an increasingly insecure world and there are major challenges with foreign powers exploiting the openness and collaboration that are cornerstones of excellent research and innovation. Openness should form the basis of international cooperation, while there needs to be an awareness of the need to protect national interests, knowledge and technology.

The Swedish Council for Higher Education, the Swedish Research Council and Vinnova are therefore tasked with producing indicative national guidelines for international collaborations which should be a tool for making assessments of ongoing and potential international educational and research collaborations. The authorities must also propose how additional forms of support for, among other things, the exchange of knowledge and experience between universities and state research financiers, as well as other relevant authorities and organizations can be developed and designed.

The assignment must be partially reported no later than March 31, 2024, and a final report no later than December 15, 2024. The assignment is coordinated by the Swedish Council for Higher Education.

For more information (in Swedish)

The government gathers forces to strengthen Sweden, the country of engineers

Sweden's prosperity has historically rested on a strong innovative power in the individual and in the business world. In the budget bill for 2024, the government proposes several different investments in education and research that will strengthen Sweden as a country of engineers and meet the great skill needs, including an expansion of the education of Master of Science in Engineering and an increase in the compensation amounts for education in science and technology.

The government is proposing a targeted investment to expand the education of Master of Science in Engineering in the coming years. In order for more people to be able to study as engineers, the base year courses at these universities are also being expanded. 

The government also proposes a strategic investment in increased research grants. The aim is to strengthen the research and educational environments in electrification and battery technology. Through this investment, the government quickly creates the conditions for the universities to be able to recruit more researchers and teachers with key competence in an area where international competition is high.

For more information (in Swedish)

Swedish Higher Education Authority (UKÄ) shall conduct case studies on academic freedom – a reaction to cancel culture

The Government commissions the Swedish Higher Education Authority (UKÄ) to conduct case studies on academic freedom. 

UKÄ will conduct case studies with the aim of providing a deeper understanding of the work of universities and university colleges in promoting and protecting academic freedom in accordance with the provisions of the Higher Education Act and a culture that allows the free search for knowledge and the free dissemination of knowledge. The authority must also compile the work of the higher education institutions in promoting and protecting academic freedom and a culture that allows the free search for knowledge and the free dissemination of knowledge. The compilation must include a summarising national picture and an international outlook.

The assignment on case studies must be reported no later than February 15, 2024, and other parts must be reported no later than May 15, 2024.

The issue of academic freedom came up during the autumn 2022 in the debate about the existence of a so-called cancel culture at Swedish universities.

For more information (in Swedish)


New route to Higher Education

The new national eligibility test has been completed and will be conducted in October 2022. A passed test result provides basic eligibility to higher education.

Anyone who never started high school or who started and dropped out and has worked or acquired knowledge and skills in another way, can write the basic entrance examination for university studies. With a passing test result, you demonstrate your actual competence and that you have the conditions to study at the university.

During a trial period, anyone who is at least 24 years old and lacks basic eligibility for university studies can write a test to prove their competence. The first test is October 9, 2022.

The new test measures, among other things, knowledge of English, Swedish and mathematics, but also competences such as scientific approach and problem-solving ability. In other words, competences that you may have acquired through work and internships, other types of education or your own business.

For more information (in Swedish)

Strengthened Swedish-British collaboration through the Swedish Innovation and Research Office in London

Sweden's seventh innovation and research office abroad will be established at the Swedish Embassy in London from 1 January 2022. The office will develop and strengthen cooperation between the UK and Sweden on issues related to the Government's life science strategy, export and investment strategy, research and the Innovation Bill, as well as the Government's strategic collaboration program.

In order to maintain Sweden's strong international position as an innovation and knowledge leader, it is important to have developed collaborations with world-leading innovation and research countries. Sweden already has established innovation and research offices at Sweden's embassies in Brasilia, New Delhi, Beijing, Seoul, Tokyo and Washington DC.

The Swedish universities have coped well with the pandemic

A study by the Swedish Higher Education Authority (UKÄ), that had been commissioned by the Swedish government, shows that overall, the universities have coped well with the pandemic under the circumstances. Teaching has been maintained even though the strain on students and teachers has been great. Research and postgraduate education have also continued. In the continued work, it will be important to try to put the Swedish experience in an international perspective and to begin to investigate - as far as possible - the long-term effects that the pandemic will have on the activities at universities.

For more information (in Swedish)



Analysis of the life science sector - to make Swedish life science visible and stronger

The government has decided to commission Vinnova to analyze the Swedish life science industry. The purpose is to follow developments and clarify Sweden's position internationally.

The pandemic has more clearly than ever shown the importance of a prominent life science sector. The assignment to Vinnova, which takes place within the framework of a national strategy for life science, is expected to contribute to strengthening Sweden as a leading life science nation in the long term. 

For more information (in Swedish)

The effects of the pandemic on widening access to higher education shall be monitored

The Government has decided to give an additional assignment to the Swedish Higher Education Authority (UKÄ) to study in particular the effects of the covid-19 pandemic on widening access to higher education.

In the summer of 2020, the government commissioned UKÄ to follow up the decisions and initiatives taken in connection with the pandemic, as well as what it may have had for any consequences for the university's activities. In an interim report, the authority has shown, among other things, that dropouts have increased during the spring semester 2020 among students from homes with parents without higher education more than within other groups.

UKÄ shall continuously report the results of the follow-up and submit a final report no later than 1 December 2022. 

For more information (in Swedish)

Research, freedom, future - knowledge and innovation for Sweden

In the bill, the government presents the research policy for the years 2021–2024. It covers issues of both research and innovation as well as higher education. The policy is based on the goal that Sweden should be one of the world's foremost research and innovation countries and a prominent nation of knowledge.

The bill includes the following proposal for internationalization and sustainable development.

For Sweden to be a leading research and knowledge nation with research and education of internationally high quality it is required both international cooperation and a high degree of internationalization. Universities and university colleges are part of a global education and research arena and therefore interaction is needed with actors in both high-income countries and in low- and middle-income countries. Reinforced climate considerations must be taken into account in internationalization work.

The Government considers that the current wording on internationalization in the Higher Education Act does not respond to the need for internationalization work that currently exists in higher education and research. Therefore, the government proposes in this bill that the Higher Education Act should be amended so that it is clear that international operations will strengthen quality in higher education and research and contribute to sustainable development. However, international research collaborations may involve certain risks. It is important to ensure the protection of research results because it constitutes a strategic resource in terms of Sweden's economic prosperity and growth. Some research activities at universities and university colleges are therefore worthy of protection activities that are subject to the Security Protection Act.

For more information in Swedish