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Sweden: higher vocational education continues to expand

The Swedish Agency for Higher Vocational Education decided in January 2019 which programmes are to be added to the HVET portfolio over the next few years. More than 14 000 new study places were added for 2019. The expansion of higher vocational education in Sweden continues!

Higher vocational education is a post-secondary type of education at EQF level 5 and 6 that combines theoretical and practical studies and functions in close cooperation with employers and industry.

Expansion of higher vocational education started in 2018. Until 2022, the number of yearly study places will expand by approximately 45%, from 30 000 to 44 000 and the number of students in higher vocational education is expected to increase from 50 000 to 70 000 in five years. Higher vocational education programmes can be studied part-time or full-time.

This year, VET providers had applied for 1 105 new programmes, with 496 receiving grants for funding. Higher vocational education programmes are continuously aligned to the demands of sectors and the labour market and the Agency for Higher Vocational Education takes care that competence provision is available and well-functioning throughout Sweden. Another goal is to increase the share of study places provided through distance learning: nearly a quarter of the programmes granted in January 2019 will be delivered remotely.

Education providers, which can be private companies, municipalities, counties, universities or other tertiary education providers, apply to the Agency for Higher Vocational Education to have their HVET programme admitted to the portfolio; if approved, a given number of study places in the programme is funded during the coming years. A preparatory programme may be offered in connection with an HVET programme to provide the student with the learning outcomes needed for eligibility requirements, if there is or is expected to be a shortage of qualified applicants for the HVET programme.

Higher vocational education programmes are available in 16 fields, including construction, finance, administration, sales, ICT, tourism, healthcare, agriculture, media, design, engineering and manufacturing. The programmes that have the highest number of applicants per study place are train driver followed by dental nurse, healthcare administrator and accountant. All the higher vocation educational areas have been granted more study places this year, but the largest expansion is in the computing/ ICT field where 3 000 new study places have been granted in 2019.

Programmes in ICT and digitalisation will continue to expand and some 8 000 new study places in the field are expected to be added in the coming years.

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