Perhaps it’s because the country encourages creativity — Sweden puts a strong focus on inspiring its students to think independently and question the status quo. Or possibly it’s because, in relation to GDP, it invests more into research than nearly any other nation.
At Linköping University (LiU) in southern Sweden you see all of these factors come into play. It’s likely the reason its graduates are among the first in Sweden to gain employment once they’ve completed their studies.
It’s also how the university, which boasts nearly 30,000 students and is one of the top 300 in the world, has built a world-class research environment with one unifying aim: how can the research be used to make a positive difference in the world?
Linda Johansson, 22, is in the second year of her master's degree in Sustainable Development at LiU — a fitting place to study the subject as in 2011 Linköping adopted a long-term climate goal to become completely carbon neutral by 2025.
As part of its initiative, the city works closely with the university to develop methods to reduce CO2 emissions. Even the buses are fueled by biogas produced from food waste and manure, and 95 percent of the city’s houses are connected to its two new combined heat and power plants.
Linköping is leading by example, and students on the university’s Environmental Studies programmes get the chance to be part of this exciting research community.
“I actually moved here four and a half years ago to study for my undergraduate degree in Environmental Science,” Linda says. “I really enjoyed the BA, and I really like the university and the professors, so I decided to continue my studies.”
Just one reason that inspired Linda to stay on at LiU was the opportunity to carve her own academic path. She likes the university’s interdisciplinary approach and believes it’s necessary within her chosen field.
“There are other universities that have masters courses that are more specialised, but I wanted one that was broad and that I could specialise in later,” she explains.
Linda also appreciated sitting next to students focused on economics or management — topics somewhat outside her area of study.
“It makes the programme more interesting because you get lots of different perspectives,” she adds.
In addition to having different academic backgrounds, Linda’s course mates have come to Linköping from all over the world.
All of the 20 master’s programmes offered — in subject areas including Engineering and Computer Sciences, Natural Science, Education, Design, and Social Sciences — are open to international students.
The programmes run for two years and are taught in English, giving the university a dynamic and engaging international environment — something Linda feels adds to her own learnings.
“A couple of my course mates are from Sweden, but mostly they come from other countries,” she explains.
“We have students from Germany, Uganda, the UK…lots of places! It’s interesting because they all have different ideas about the topics.”
Second-year master’s student Karolos Douvlataniotis, 25, (pictured) moved to Linköping from Greece to continue his studies in Experimental and Medical Biosciences.
“I was searching for MAs in Europe and I really liked the content of the course. The university itself is also very nice; there are two campuses with everything you need,” he explains.
The fact that one of LiU’s campuses features a university hospital, with medical and biomedical departments nearby, also appealed to Karolos.
“It’s very well equipped because it’s not just for students, there are people doing real work there like research and laboratory tests for the hospitals.”
As well as offering world-class facilities, the university facilitates international student life with a series of events throughout the year.
“There are several student associations at Linköping University, such as the Erasmus Student Network, that organise events like barbecues, parties, and all sorts of other gatherings for people to get to know each other,” he adds.
Because of this, Karolos has found it easy to make friends. He also enjoys outings with them in local Linköping, which he believes is a great city for students.
Located about 200 kilometres southwest of Stockholm in the sprawling plains of Östergötland County, Linköping is Sweden’s fifth largest city with plenty to see and do all year round.
It’s home to the fascinating Swedish Air Force Museum and the Gamla Linköping Open-Air Museum where you can experience life in Sweden as it was 100 years ago, as well as cafes, restaurants, and bars serving something for everyone. It’s also home to Mjärdevi Science Park, one of Europe’s leading technology hubs.
“It’s a nice city, especially if you’re a student. It’s small enough to cycle everywhere, and there are several good options for nights out. My favourite place is Ammos, a Greek coffee house/crêperie that serves various unusual types of coffee and amazing crêpes!”
Linda would absolutely encourage others to take the plunge and study for their master’s degree at Linköping University.
“Many people are a bit scared when it comes to reading at MA level. But I think you should take the leap and do what you want,” she says.
“Studying at Linköping University has been really worth it for me, and you’ll enjoy it too if there’s something you’re interested in.”
Find out more about the international master’s programmes at Linköping University.
This article was produced by The Local Client Studio and sponsored by Linköping University.