Studying in Sweden For Members

Who can study for free in Sweden?

The Local Sweden
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Who can study for free in Sweden?
You may be eligible to study in Sweden for free even if you're not an EU citizen. Photo: Isabell Höjman/TT

Applications for Sweden's university autumn semester open on March 15th, and did you know that tuition-free degrees and shorter courses are available to a lot of foreign residents in the country, too?



Studying at a Swedish university is free for most people living in Sweden, whether or not you are a citizen.

That includes degrees at BA or MA level, and it is sometimes possible to take single courses, equivalent to a small number of university credits, where teaching might be carried out in person or remotely. You will need to meet the requirements for the specific course, which may include high school or previous university education, and language skills in Swedish or English. 

All Swedish and EU citizens, as well as Brits with post-Brexit residence permits, have their tuition fees waived, though you may need to submit a copy of your passport and, if applicable, your post-Brexit residency permit when applying.

If you are a non-EU student coming to Sweden on a student permit, then you need to pay international tuition fees. There are usually a range of scholarship opportunities available, and applications usually open shortly after the general university admissions close.

But if you are living in Sweden on a different type of permit, for example as the partner of a Swedish resident or a work permit holder, or on a work permit yourself, then your university tuition is also free. You will need to provide proof of your residence in Sweden.

This includes any British citizens who moved to Sweden after 2021: if you are moving specifically for studies, you'll need to apply for a student permit and pay international tuition fees, but if you are moving on a different permit, you can apply to university for free.

Brits already resident in Sweden before the transition period will need to show proof of this, either a copy of your post-Brexit residence card or a copy of the letter from the Migration Agency that shows you are eligible for one.


Swedish for Immigrants (SFI)

Many foreigners in Sweden are eligible for state-funded Swedish-language courses for immigrants, called SFI.

SFI is available for people aged over 16, and there is no requirement of previous education or language skills, but you will be placed into a different "track" or course based on your previous educational background. To be eligible, you need to lack a basic knowledge of Swedish, and people who speak Danish or Norwegian are not usually eligible.

SFI is available for people with a Swedish personnummer, as well as EU/EEA citizens even without a personnummer.

Bear in mind that staff at education centres or municipalities are not always aware of the rules around eligibility, and The Local readers have reported being refused SFI despite being eligible, for example as EU citizens lacking a personnummer.


Adult education (Folkhögskolor)

Folkhögskolor, literally "folk high schools" are adult education institutes that typically do not offer academic degrees or graded courses. There are folkhögskolor all over Sweden teaching a range of different courses, some of which can prepare you for a career in Sweden, and some of which are equivalent to a Swedish gymnasie education, providing you with the qualifications needed to apply for university in Sweden.

Unlike other adult education courses like SFI and those offered by Komvux, you don't need to be resident in Sweden in order to attend a folkhögskola, meaning they are also open to people without a Swedish personnummer.

However, the vast majority of folkhögskolor only teach in Swedish, so you will therefore need to be able to document knowledge of Swedish to attend them. In addition to this, you must fulfil the application requirements for the individual course, as well as Migration Agency requirements for studying in Sweden, if you don't already have a permit to live in Sweden. 

On the plus side, however, there are no tuition fees for folkhögskolor, although certain costs do still apply. For example, many folkhögskolor are boarding schools, meaning you may have to pay for food and accommodation provided by the school.

If you are over the age of 20, you may be able to apply for Swedish student finance (CSN) to cover these costs.

You can find a list of folkhögskola courses here.


Comments (1)

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Anonymous 2021/07/17 10:20
As it stands, as far as I know, the only free-standing Swedish language course accessible to non EU residents (i.e. those requiring a student residence permit to study/live in Sweden) is at Lund University. Several universities offer short courses or part time courses intended to bring the student up to A1 or A2 level while they study for their actual degree, but none of them are meant to make the learner even close to fluent.

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