The Swedish Higher Education Act
Please note that the translation of this act is only updated twice a year. Last updated November 2011.
This version contains amendments up to and including the Act on Amendment of the Higher Education Act (2010:2002).
The translation is not an official translation.
The Higher Education Act contains provisions about the higher education institutions that are accountable to the government, local authorities or county councils. These provisions are often supplemented by the regulations in the Higher Education Ordinance.
Note that there may be errors in the statutes. Therefore always check the text against the printed version.
Swedish Code of Statutes (SFS) No. 1992:1434Department/Agency: Ministry of Education and Research, Sweden Issued: 17 December 1992
Chapter 1 Initial provisions
Section 1 This act contains provisions relating to higher education institutions for which the accountable authority is the Government, a municipality or a county council.Hereinafter, higher education institution shall refer to universities and university colleges unless otherwise specified.
Section 2As the accountable authority, the Government shall establish higher education institutions for the provision of:
- courses and study programmes based on scholarship or artistic practice and on proven experience, and
- research and artistic research and development as well as other forms of development activities.
The mandate of higher education institutions shall also include third stream activities and the provision of information about their activities, as well as ensuring that benefit is derived from their research findings. Ordinance (2009:45).
Section 3 The operations of higher education institutions shall be organised to ensure that there are close links between research, and courses and study programmes.
Section 3a In the course of their operations, higher education institutions shall uphold academic credibility and good research practice. Ordinance (2000:1370).
Section 4 The operations of higher education institutions shall be arranged to ensure that high standards are attained in courses and study programmes as well as in research, and artistic research and development.
The resources available shall be used effectively to sustain a high standard of operation.
Quality assurance procedures are the shared concern of staff and students at higher education institutions. Ordinance (2000:260).
Section 4a Students shall be entitled to exert influence over the courses and study programmes at higher education institutions.
Higher education institutions shall endeavour to enable students to play an active role in the continued development of courses and study programmes. Ordinance (2000:260).
Section 5 In the course of their operations, higher education institutions shall promote sustainable development to assure for present and future generations a sound and healthy environment, economic and social welfare, and justice.
Equality between women and men shall always be taken into account and promoted in the operations of higher education institutions.
Furthermore, in their operations higher education institutions should promote understanding of other countries and of international circumstances.
Higher education institutions shall also actively promote and widen recruitment to higher education. Ordinance (2005:1208).
Section 5a Has been repealed by ordinance (2010:701).
Section 6 The following general principles shall apply to research:
- research issues may be freely selected
- research methodologies may be freely developed, and
- research results may be freely published.
Section 7 Courses and study programmes shall be provided at: - first cycle - second cycle, and - third cycle.
Section 8 First-cycle courses and study programmes shall be based fundamentally on the knowledge acquired by pupils in national study programmes in the upper-secondary schools or its equivalent. The Government may, however, permit exceptions for courses and study programmes in the fine, applied or performing arts.
First-cycle courses and study programmes shall develop:
In addition to knowledge and skills in their field of study, students shall develop the ability to:
- the ability of students to make independent and critical assessments
- the ability of students to identify, formulate and solve problems autonomously, and
- the preparedness of students to deal with changes in working life.
- gather and interpret information at a scholarly level
- stay abreast of the development of knowledge, and
- communicate their knowledge to others, including those who lack specialist knowledge in the field. Ordinance (2009:1037).
Section 9 Second-cycle courses and study programmes shall be based fundamentally on the knowledge acquired by students during first-cycle courses and study programmes, or its equivalent. Second-cycle courses and study programmes shall involve the acquisition of specialist knowledge, competence and skills in relation to first-cycle courses and study programmes, and in addition to the requirements for first-cycle courses and study programmes shall:
- further develop the ability of students to integrate and make autonomous use of their knowledge
- develop the students' ability to deal with complex phenomena, issues and situations, and
- develop the students' potential for professional activities that demand considerable autonomy, or for research and development work. Ordinance (2006:173).
Section 9a Third-cycle courses and study programmes shall be based fundamentally on the knowledge acquired by students in first and second-cycle courses and study programmes, or its equivalent.
In addition to the requirements for first and second-cycle courses and study programmes, third-cycle courses and study programmes shall develop the knowledge and skills required to be able to undertake autonomous research. Ordinance (2006:173).
Section 10 Municipalities and county councils may establish higher education institutions only with the consent of the Government. This consent may be restricted to first-cycle courses and study programmes.
The provisions on courses and study programmes etc. in Section 2 apply correspondingly to such higher education institutions.
Section 10a Qualifications shall be awarded in the first, second or third cycle. The Government issues regulations on the qualifications that may be awarded and the cycle in which they shall be awarded. Ordinance (2006:173).
Section 11Third-cycle qualifications may be awarded by universities. A university may not, however, award a third-cycle qualification
- if permission to award such a qualification is required and the university has not been given such permission, or
- in cases where a decision pursuant to the second paragraph of Section 14 that such a qualification may not be awarded applies to the university.
The Government may issue regulations requiring permission for universities to award third-cycle qualifications. If such regulations have been laid down, permission is granted by the Swedish National Agency for Higher Education. Ordinance (2009:764).
Section 11 aHas been repealed by ordinance (2009:764).
Section 12The Swedish National Agency for Higher Education decides on permission to award qualifications
- in the third cycle at higher education institutions that are not universities, and
- in the first and second cycle at universities and higher education institutions.
The Government issues regulations on the qualifications that may be awarded at
lantbruksuniversitet (Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences) and Försvarshögskolan (Swedish National Defence College). Ordinance (2009:764).
Section 13Permission to award a qualification may only be granted if
- a programme meets the requirements made of higher education in this chapter as well as the special requirements laid down by ordinance, and
- award of the qualification is, from a national perspective, in the public interest. Ordinance (2009:764).
Section 14If the requirements stipulated in Section 13 of Chapter 1 are not fulfilled for a specific qualification that a university or higher education institution has permission to award or is entitled to award pursuant to the first paragraph of Section 11, the Swedish National Agency for Higher Education shall enjoin the higher education institution to remedy shortcomings within a specified period.
Is these shortcomings persist either completely or to some substantial extent after the expiry of the specified period, the Swedish National Agency for Higher Education may decide that the university or higher education institution may no longer award a qualification on which they impinge.
Even if the Swedish National Agency for Higher Education has decided that a specific qualification may no longer be awarded, the university or higher education institution may award the qualification to students who have begun their studies at the university or higher education institution before the decision. This applies, however, only if their studies comprise a programme, course or component of a third-cycle programme that can lead to the award of a qualification subject to the decision. Ordinance (2009:764).
Section 15The Swedish National Agency for Higher Education may decide that a decision pursuant to the second paragraph of section 14 shall no longer apply to a qualification that prior to this decision a university was entitled to award by virtue of the first paragraph of Section 11.A decision pursuant to the above paragraph may only be made if the requirements for the programme laid down in Section 13 of Chapter1 are fulfilled. Ordinance (2009:764).
Section 16Questions arising from the second paragraph of Section 14 shall be decided by the Government if they refer to the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences or the Swedish National Defence College. In making its decision the Government may take into account whether from a national perspective it is in the public interest for a qualification to be awarded by the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences or the Swedish National Defence College. Ordinance (2009:764).
Section 17 A higher education institution listed in the annex to this Act may award a joint degree together with
- another higher education institution,
- an independent course provider entitled to award a qualification pursuant to the Act Concerning Authority to Award Certain Qualifications (1993:792), or
- a higher education institution outside Sweden that is not a physical individual.
The term joint degree refers to a qualification that may be awarded by the higher education institutions that have jointly organised courses and programmes that can lead to the award of the qualification. These courses and programmes must be offered through the educational cooperation of the institutions referred to in the first paragraph above.
The Government issues additional regulations on joint degrees. Ordinance (2009:695).
Section 18 A higher education institution referred to in Section 17 may within the framework of educational cooperation pursuant to the second paragraph of the same section decide to delegate administrative tasks relating to admission to and the transfer of credits from courses and programmes to
- another higher education institution,
- an independent course provider entitled to award a qualification pursuant to the Act Concerning Authority to Award Certain Qualifications (1993:792), or
- a higher education institution outside Sweden that is not a physical individual.
The administrative tasks delegated may only mean that
- students admitted to one component of the programme by another higher education institution offering this component shall be regarded as students who have been admitted to the higher education institution while they are pursuing their studies there, and
- students will be given credit for successful completion of a component of the programme at another higher education institution within a programme at the higher education institution without any additional review. Ordinance (2009:695)
Chapter 2 Organisation of public-sector higher education institutions
Section 1 The Riksdag decides which public-sector higher education institutions shall exist.
Section 2 The board of governors of a higher education institution shall supervise all of its operations and assume responsibility for the fulfilment of its mandate.
Section 3 A vice-chancellor who is directly accountable to the board of governors shall be appointed to manage the operations of each higher education institution.
Section 4 The Government shall appoint the chair of the board of governors of a higher education institution. The vice-chancellor shall be a member of the board of governors. Teachers and students at the higher education institution shall be entitled to representation on the board of governors. Regulations on who is to appoint such representatives are laid down by ordinance.
The Government appoints other members of the board of governors.
Staff representatives shall be entitled to attend and make representations at meetings of the board of governors. Ordinance (2007:141).
Section 5 A higher education institution decides on its own internal organisation in addition to the board and vice-chancellor, unless otherwise provided. When the higher education institution decides on its internal organisation sections 6 and 7 below are to apply. Ordinance (2010:701). 5a New heading Section 5 by virtue of ordinance (2009:764).
Section 6 Decisions are to be made by individuals with research or artistic competence if these decisions require appraisal of
If the appraisal referred to in the first paragraph above is to be made by a group of individuals, the majority of them shall possess research or artistic competence. A board may decide, however, that such a majority is not required if there are special grounds for doing so. Ordinance (2010:701).
- the organisation, implementation or quality of a course or programme, or
- the organisation or quality of research or artistic development work.
Section 7 The students are entitled to representation when decisions or preparations are made that have bearing on their courses or programmes or the situation of students. Ordinance (2010:701).
Section 8 The Government or the agency nominated by the Government issues regulations on who is to appoint representatives of the students. In such regulations the Government may delegate the selection of representatives to specific individuals or associations. Ordinance (2010:701).
Section 9 The Government issues special regulations on the composition of the board of governors, faculty board and any special bodies for first and second-cycle courses and study programmes at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences and the Swedish National Defence College. Ordinance (2007:701).
Chapter 3 Professors and other teaching staff
Section 1 The duties assigned to teaching staff may comprise educational responsibilities, research or artistic research and development, and also administrative tasks. Teachers are also responsible for keeping abreast of developments within their own subject areas and developments in the wider community that are significant for their teaching roles in higher education. Ordinance (1997:797).
Section 2 Higher education institutions shall employ professors and senior lecturers to undertake teaching and research.
A professorship is the most senior teaching appointment.
The Government issues regulations on the qualifications and assessment criteria that will apply to the employment of professors and senior lecturers. Ordinance (2010:701).
Section 3A professor shall be employed until further notice unless otherwise stipulated in the paragraph below.
A professor may be employed for a fixed term, if the appointment concerns:
- a creative or artistic subject
- an adjunct post at a higher education institution for someone mainly employed outside the higher education sector (adjunct professor), or
- a position as a visiting lecturer for a person who has the required qualifications for appointment as a professor (visiting professor). Ordinance (2010:701).
Section 4 Has been repealed by ordinance (1997:797).
Section 5 Has been repealed by ordinance (2010:701).
Section 6 Unless otherwise provided by regulations issued by the Government, each higher education institution shall itself decide which categories of teachers, apart from professors and senior lecturers, it shall employ and the qualifications and assessment criteria to apply to such appointments. Ordinance (1997:797).
Section 7 In parallel with their teaching posts, teachers at higher education institutions may undertake employment or assignments or pursue activities relating to research and development work within the subject area of their posts, if in doing so they do not undermine the confidence of the general public in the higher education institution. Such secondary occupations shall be kept clearly separate from the tasks assigned to them within their posts. Other issues relating to secondary occupations are subject to the provisions laid down in the Public Employment Act (1994:260). Ordinance (1997:797).
Section 8 The Government or the agency nominated by the Government may stipulate that a teaching post at a higher education institution shall be combined with employment as a physician or dentist with specialist training, or with employment other than as a physician at a designated healthcare facility for medical training and research. A combined post may only be held by someone eligible for both appointments.
The regulations that apply to teaching appointments shall also apply to appointments to be combined with teaching posts.
Before appointment to a teaching post the accountable authority for health care shall be enabled to make representations, if the position is to be combined with a post in a health care facility. Ordinance (1997:797).
Chapter 4 Students
Section 1 In so far as this is possible in compliance with the quality requirement laid down in the first paragraph of Section 4 of Chapter 1, higher education institutions shall admit students who fulfil the entry requirements for their studies.
Section 2Unless otherwise provided by regulations issued by the Government or the agency nominated by the Government, the higher education institution offering a course or study programme shall decide on its entry requirements.
Applicants for first or second-cycle courses and study programmes offered by a municipality or a county council shall be admitted irrespective of the address at which they are officially registered. Ordinance (2006:173).
Section 3 If there are not enough places on a programme for all the qualified applicants, a selection shall be made. The Government or the agency nominated by the Government may issue regulations on selection. Ordinance (1996:555).
Section 4Education is to be provided without charge to students who are citizens of
- a state that is included in the Agreement on the European Economic Area, or
The Government or the Agency nominated by the Government issues regulations on the fees to be charged for students in first and second-cycle courses and programmes who are not citizens of the states laid down in the first paragraph above. Ordinance (2010:298).
Section 4aThe Government issues regulations prohibiting a higher education institution from admitting an applicant required to pay a fee who has not paid the fee. Ordinance (2010:298).
Section 4bThe Government issues regulations on the suspension of fee-paying students who have begun a course or programme without paying the fee. Ordinance (2010:298).
Section 5 The Government may issue regulations relating to the temporary suspension of students.
Section 6 The Government may issue regulations on the expulsion of students until further notice in cases where the student:
A further requirement for expulsion is that a palpable risk is considered to exist that in consequence of the circumstances set out in 1-3 above the student can harm another person or damage valuable property during her or his studies.
- suffers from a mental disorder
- abuses alcohol or drugs, or
- has been found guilty of a serious crime.
Section 7 A board for the higher education sector shall hear issues relating to expulsion. The chair of the board shall be a lawyer and have experience of acting as a judge.
Students and higher education institutions may appeal to the general administrative courts against expulsion decisions taken by the board.
Leave to appeal is required before appeal may be made to the Administrative Court of Appeal.
At the request of the expellee, decisions relating to expulsion shall be reviewed after two years. Ordinance (1996:555).
Section 8A higher education institution shall on application decide that an association of students at the institution may be granted the status of a student union for a specified period if the association fulfils the requirements laid down in Sections 9—14. Ordinance (2009:766).
Section 9A student union shall lay down that its main purpose is to monitor and take part in the development of courses and programmes as well as the conditions applying to studies at the higher education institution. Ordinance (2009:766).
Section 10The area of activity of a student union may not comprise more than one higher education institution and shall coincide with at least one organisational or geographical section of the higher education institution. Ordinance (2009:766).
Section 11A student union shall be democratically organised and able to represent the students within the union's area of activity. Ordinance (2009:766).
Section 12All students within a student union's area of activity shall be entitled to become members of the union if they fulfil the requirements laid down for membership of an association of the kind stipulated in Section 8.
A student who is a member of a student union shall be entitled to vote in the election of the student union's supreme deciding body. Ordinance (2009:766).
Section 13An association of the kind stipulated in Section 8 shall have articles and a board. The articles shall have been adopted by the members of the association.
These articles shall stipulate the following:
- the aims and area of activity of the association
- the identity of the supreme deciding body and how it is elected
- how decisions by the supreme deciding body and the board are to be made and published
- how admission to and withdrawal from membership of the association is to take place
- how the board is to be discharged of responsibility
- how changes are to be made to the articles
- how the association is to be dissolved. Ordinance (2009:766).
Section 14A student union shall maintain a register of its members.
A student union shall submit an annual report on its activities to the higher education institution and an account of how many students are members.
At the request of the higher education institution, a student union shall provide the institution with its register of its members. Ordinance (2009:766).
Section 15The status of 'nation' is enjoyed by the 'nations' at Uppsala University and Lund University
- which students were required to join pursuant to the regulations that applied immediately prior to 1 July 2010 and which provided student welfare activities for students,
- whose main purpose was to support the students belonging to the 'nation' and advance their studies through the provision of student welfare activities, and
- which support students by providing student welfare activities. Ordinance (2009:766).
Chapter 5 Special provisions
Section 1 A special appeals board shall hear appeals against certain decisions relating to the higher education sector.
No appeal may be made against the adjudication of the board on an appeal submitted to it.
Section 2 New heading Section 8 of Chapter 2 1 January 2011
Section 3 Has been repealed by ordinance. Ordinance (1996:298).
Section 4 If a higher education institution has admitted a student to a higher education programme also offered by a county council, the Government shall be entitled to remuneration for the programme.
Remuneration shall be paid by the county council in which the higher education institution is chiefly situated. If the higher education institution is chiefly situated in a municipality that does not belong to a county council, remuneration shall be paid by the municipality. The amount of remuneration shall be fixed by the Government or the agency nominated by the Government.
Remuneration pursuant to this section shall not be paid in respect of a course or study programme commissioned by a county council or a municipality from a higher education institution. Ordinance (1996:298).
Section 5 The Government or the agency nominated by the Government may issue regulations relating to the organisation of higher education courses and study programmes offered by municipalities and county councils as well as the participation in other respects of municipalities and county councils in such courses and study programmes.
Section 6 The Government or the agency nominated by the Government may issue additional regulations relating to higher education.
Section 7 Has been repealed by ordinance (2010:701).
This annex lists the higher education institution which pursuant to Section 17 of Chapter 1 may award joint degrees.
University of Gothenburg
Karolinska Institute (university)
Royal Institute of Technology (university)
Luleå University of Technology
Mid Sweden University
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences
Blekinge Institute of Technology
University of Dance and Circus
Swedish National Defence College
University College of Physical Education and Sports
Borås University College
Dalarna University College
Gotland University College
Gävle University College
Halmstad University College
Kristianstad University College
Skövde University College
University College West
University College of Art, Craft and Design
Royal University College of Fine Arts
Royal University College of Music in Stockholm
Malmö University College
Mälardalen University College
Stockholm University College of Opera
Stockholm Academy of Dramatic Arts
Södertörn University College
SFS 1995:96This law shall enter into effect on 1 April 1995. Appeals may be made pursuant to earlier provisions against decisions issued before it has entered into effect.
- This law shall enter into effect on 1 July 1995.
- Regulations relating to the higher education institutions, apart from the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, at which certain qualifications may be awarded issued by the Government before this law comes into force and that become effective no later than 1 July 1995 shall continue to apply until otherwise decided by the Swedish National Agency for Higher Education.
SFS 1996:298This law shall enter into effect on 1 July 1996. Remuneration pursuant to the repealed provision in Section 3 of Chapter 5 shall not be paid in respect of the period after 31 December 1995. The new wording of the second paragraph of Section 4 of Chapter 5 section 4 shall apply to remuneration for the period after 31 December 1995.
SFS 1996:555This law shall enter into effect on 1 July 1996. The earlier wording of Section 7 of Chapter 4 shall apply to decisions issued by the board before this provision enters into effect.
- This law shall enter into effect with respect to Section 4 of Chapter 2 on 1 January 1998 and in other respects on 1 January 1999.
- An application for entitlement to award third-cycle qualifications on which no decision has been made by the Swedish National Agency for Higher Education by the end of December 1998, shall be treated as an application for a decision by the Agency pursuant to the new provision in Section 5 of Chapter 2.
- If the procedure for the appointment of a senior lecturer has commenced but not been concluded before 1 January 1999, the earlier provisions relating to qualifications and assessment criteria in Section 5 of Chapter 3 apply.
SFS 1997:1330Earlier provisions shall, however, apply to those who have been appointed to professorships for an indefinite period prior to 1 January 1999.
- This law shall enter into effect on 1 January 2007, except for Section 12 of Chapter 1, Sections 5a & 7 of Chapter 2, and Section 2 of Chapter 4, which enters into effect on 1 July 2007. study programmes that begin after the end of June 2007 or qualifications awarded subsequently.
- The new provisions in Sections 7—9a and 10a—11a of Chapter 1 are to apply to courses and study programmes that begin after the end of June 2007 or qualifications awarded subsequently
- The Government may issue regulations about the extent to which courses and study programmes may be completed and qualifications awarded pursuant to earlier provisions.
- Decisions on the power to award qualifications made by the Government or some other agency pursuant to earlier regulations continue to apply.
- This law shall enter into effect on 1 January 2010 and applies to courses and study programmes that begin after the end of June 2010.
- This law shall enter into effect on 1 January 2010.
- The Government may issue regulations about the extent to which higher education institutions other than universities may award third-cycle qualifications pursuant to earlier provisions.
- This law shall enter into effect on 1 January 2010. Earlier provisions continue to apply to courses and study programmes that begin before its entry into effect.