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Organisation of post-secondary non-tertiary education


6.Upper secondary and post-secondary non-tertiary Education

6.4Organisation of post-secondary non-tertiary education

Last update: 27 November 2023

Types of institutions

Post-secondary vocational education (at ISCED level 4) (Yrkeshögskolan) serves the needs of job seekers and high competence demands from the industry. Higher vocational education courses prepare learners for jobs which are related to a specific trade or vocation. Subject areas range, for example, from manufacturing industry to health care and media and design, and comprise hands-on activities as well as problem solving.

Education providers within higher vocational education can be institutions or establishments such as universities, local authorities or private training companies. The education providers shall have the competence and conditions required to organise education in the field to which the education programme relates The education providers may arrange the programme in cooperation with others. The industry professionals recruited by the education provider for teaching or supervising shall through education or experience have competence for the education programme they are conducting. The education provider has to make sure that skill enhancement training is provided.

The government regulates the activities within post-secondary vocational education. The government also has the power to regulate what applies to the administrative authority of post-secondary vocational education, the Swedish National Agency for Higher Vocational Education (Myndigheten för yrkeshögskolan).

To arrange a programme within the framework of Higher Vocational Education and recieve governments grants, the education providers have to submit an application to the permit authority the Swedish National Agency for Higher Vocational Education. The authority yearly advertises the application process and updated guidelines. In the beginning of the following year the authority decides which programmes are granted. Usually the education programmes are granted two starting rounds although changes affecting the application rounds of 2016, 2017 and forward makes it possible to be granted a larger number of starts if there is an established and long-term demand of the profession. Education programmes within higher vocational education (Yrkeshögskolan) that recieve government grants have to be free of charge for students. If an education provider wants to charge a student fee for a education programme they cannot recieve grants and have to submit an application to the authority.

The education programmes and providers work under the supervision and quality control of the Swedish National Agency for Higher Vocational Education.

For each education programme there is a steering comitte consiting of representatives from the labour market with different backgrounds. The majority is supposed to be representatives and employers from relevant areas relating to the profession. The steering comitte also consists of the education leader and a student representative. Depending on the programme and award there can sometimes be a representative from the school system and university/university college.

The steering comitte has several important tasks such as designing the program so that it suits the requested qualifications. The participating work place representatives have a unique opportunity to design the content of the programme so that it corresponds to the requirements that they have as employers. The steering comitte also has the responsibility to accept applicants into the programme and issue diplomas and certificates. Other responsibilities include systematic quality work and assuring that the programme reaches its general objectives.

Geographical accessibility

There are no regulations relating to geographical accessibility of higher vocational education programmes. When the Swedish National Agency for Higher Vocational Education administrate grants to education programmes, they look at where the proposed programme will be located. This is because the demand of certain programmes and employment looks different in different parts of the country. The demand for one profession can be satisfied in one geographical region but there can still exist a demand in another region. The authority assesses if there is a clear demand for the profession in the region and if the geographical location is reasonable in relation to the role. As an example a mining programme is suitable in a region where there is mining business.

Admission requirements and choice of school

The general entry requirements which need to be fulfilled to enroll in higher vocational education in Sweden are:

  • A school leaving certificate from a full national upper-secondary school programme, or a school leaving certificate from adult education at upper-secondary level
  • or hold a Swedish or foreign qualification equivalent to an upper-secondary school certificate.

For residents of Denmark, Finland, Iceland or Norway the entry requirements are:

for study pro­grammes equivalent to the Swedish post-secondary vocational education programmes

  • study programmes equivalent to the Swedish post-secondary vocational education programmes,

  • or hold Swedish or foreign qualifications,

  •  or if the applicant through practical experience or other circumstance has obtained the prerequisites needed in order to fulfil the programme requirements.

If the applicants first language is not Swedish, Dan­ish, Norwegian, Icelandic or Faroese, the education provider will test and determine whether the student has the necessary knowledge of the Swedish language to fulfil the education programme.

In addition to the general requirements, specific admission requirements can vary among programmes. Specific admission requirements may involve completion of specific courses from a national programme (nationellt program) at upper-secondary level or a specific professional work experience. This also applies to the selection procedures for different programmes. There is no central institution for applicants to apply to, each education provider administrates their own admission process.

If an applicant does not fulfill the formal requirements, there is still a chance to gain entry to a programme. The education provider may, under special circumstances, exempt the applicant if he or she is judged capable enough to fulfill the requirements of the programme and practise the profession for which the programme educates.

In situations where there are more applicants than there are study places, a selection has to be made to decide which applicants will be offered a study place. As each education provider or school administrates their own admission process and selection, selection procedures vary through different programmes. The procedures may involve taking a written test, an interview, accounting for grades, prior education or professional work experience.

There are no regulations regarding the students right to choose higher vocational education programme or education provider. Since education programmes within higher vocational education (Yrkeshögskolan) are developed to cater to the demand of the labour market, which specific programmes that will run at a certain point and in a certain locations will vary. The frequency and number of rounds active and available to apply for are dependant on how much government funds the authority disposes over at that time.

Age levels and grouping of students

All applicants regardless of age can apply to post-secondary vocational education as long as they fulfil the general admission requirements. The age level can however be affected by the age requirements when it comes to recieving student finiancial aid from the National Board for Student Aid (Centrala studiemedelsnämnden, CSN). Statistics from the The Swedish National Agency for Higher Vocational Education (Myndigheten för yrkeshögskolan) spanning the years 2007- 2016, show that the average age of students enrolled during this time has increased from 28,4 to 31,5.

There are no national regulations concerning the student/teacher ratio. The education providers within higher vocational education (Yrkeshögskolan) have freedom to organise the education programmes in a relevant way that educates students and caters to the needs of the labour market. The programmes can be organised full-time or part time, on location or as distance learning. The maximum size that the education of a class is 35 students.

Organisation of the school year

There are no national guidelines regarding exactly when a semester should start or end however the principle for when a higher vocational education programme can start is generally affected by how the education provider has formulated their application to the the Swedish Agency for Higher Vocational Education (Myndigheten för yrkeshögskolan). If the education provider applies for a start during the same year as they get granted, the starting point can be choosen sometime between July and December. If the start applies to the year after getting granted the starting point can be set between January and June. There is no restriction on how near in time granted rounds can start, however there can be a maximum of 18 months apart starting dates.

Organisation of the school day and week

The organisation of school time depends largely on the education provider, in which form the education programme is run, and the profession. When the syllabus is developed the education provider specifies how the time is to be allocated. For higher vocational education programmes which lead to an advanced higher vocational education diploma (kvalificerad yrkeshögskoleexamen ) a minimum of 25 percent of the school time has to be in the form of work placed learning (lärande i arbete, LIA). See 6.6 - Qualifications