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Sweden - attractiveness of higher vocational education programmes

ReferNet Sweden

Higher vocational education (HVE) is post-secondary education that combines theoretical and practical studies in cooperation with employers and industry. Programmes are offered in specific fields where there is explicit demand for competence. Every year the Swedish National Agency for HVE publishes statistics on their programmes, students and students’ work situations one year after graduation. Following are the figures for 2013.

HVE has shown good results for several years. Students are satisfied or very satisfied with their education and employment after graduating from HVE.

In 2013, 42 500 students were enrolled in HVE programmes in Sweden compared to 357 000 students in the Swedish higher education system.

In 2013, the HVE agency granted government funding to around 1 000 HVE programmes. Most programmes were in economics, administration and sales, technology, industrial engineering and manufacturing, healthcare, nursing and social care, information and communication technologies.

Interest in HVE programmes has increased among education providers, labour market and potential students. Between 2010-13 applications per study place has increased by 25%, although the number of study places has only increased by 4%. The most popular programmes (number of applications per study place) were in transport services, healthcare, nursing and social care.

A yearly survey conducted by the HVE agency states the following for 2013:

  • on average nine of 10 students are employed or self-employed one year after graduation. The percentage varies between different fields of study;
  • seven of 10 students were employed before graduation or in the month following graduation;
  • six of 10 students had a job that completely or to a large extent corresponded to their HVE programme;
  • average student age was 29.7 and average graduating rate was 72% of admitted students. A reason for the rather high average age might be the students’ different backgrounds. Although some begin their studies directly after upper secondary education, others have worked before enrolling in HVE programmes and anticipate a career change or want to develop their skills;
  • gender composition in HVE has not changed much between 2009-13. Although there are almost as many men as women studying in HVE programmes (48% men and 52% women), there are considerable differences between fields of study;
  • in healthcare, nursing and social care 70-90% are female, while in technology, industrial engineering and manufacturing 75-82% are male. In 2013, 76% women completed their studies successfully compared to 66% men.

The HVE agency is currently working on a survey to learn more about these results.

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09/02/2015