The Complete Guide to Swedish Universities

Sweden is world-renowned for the quality of its research and higher education. We took a look at some of the country’s top performing universities…

1. University of Lund

Founded in 1666, Lund consistently ranks among the world’s top universities. Located close to Denmark and Germany, the university also has campuses in Malmö and Helsingborg. Home to over 41,000 students, three thousand of them postgraduate, it is considered to be one of the biggest Nordic educational and research institutions. It also boasts one of Scandinavia’s most extensive educational programmes, with over three hundred degree programmes and two thousand courses. Its areas of teaching and research include economics, arts and humanities, theology, law, music and theatre, medicine, science and social sciences. With over six hundred partner universities in more than seventy countries, Lund belongs to the League of European Research Universities, and Universitas 21, a global network of research universities. It’s also home to two important scientific facilities: the MAX IV – an electron accelerator laboratory for research into radiation, nuclear physics and accelerator physics – and the European Spallation Source (ESS), for materials research.

Lund University’s Library, founded in 1666 at the same time as the university, is one of the country’s oldest and largest buildings. The city itself dates back to 990, offering a thousand years of history in its cobble-stone streets, alongside the more modern day attractions of shopping, restaurants and music venues. The city of Lund has the youngest population of any in Sweden and its atmosphere is described as ‘youthful and laid back.’ It lays claim to many innovations and new discoveries, including facial recognition technology, the wireless technology Bluetooth (named after a Viking chief) and Nicorette, the world’s first nicotine medicine developed to help smokers quit their habit.

2. University of Uppsala

Founded in 1477, Uppsala University was the first to be founded within both Sweden and the whole of Scandinavia. Now ranked among the best research universities in the world, Uppsala comprises nine faculties and over 45,000 students, 12 per cent of which are international. It boasts strong strategic links with other global universities and runs exchange programmes with approximately five hundred universities worldwide. The university’s long history has given rise to a multitude of prominent scholars, including Carl Linnaeus, an 18th century Uppsala professor who created the system for classifying nature that’s still in use today, and Anders Celsius, an astronomy professor, who devised the Celsius temperature scale. Eight Nobel Prize winners are associated with the university in total and its alumni include the IT entrepreneur Niklas Zennström, best known for founding Skype.

Uppsala is a multi-campus university with sites that include the Biomedical Centre, one of Europe’s largest for life sciences, located on an old military base, and another on the island of Gotland, a UNESCO World Heritage site and popular Swedish holiday destination with miles of pristine beaches. Uppsala is also famous for housing unique collections of cultural, artistic and scientific interest. Its various museums, including the Museum of Evolution and the Museum Gustavianum, situated in the university’s oldest building, include artefacts dating back as far as the Viking period. The university’s library is the largest in Sweden and its botanical gardens, which preserve an authentic 18th century environment, are the country’s oldest. As a major historical landmark, Uppsala university is commonly referenced in Swedish literature and makes an appearance in many films, including The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo

3. University of Gothenburg

The University of Gothenburg tackles society’s challenges with diverse knowledge. Its students and employees make the university a large and inspiring place to work and study, with a continuous flow of new knowledge and ideas. Strong research and study programmes attract scientists and students from around the world. Gothenburg is environmentally certified and works actively for sustainable development. With new knowledge and new perspectives, the university contributes to a better future.

5. Karolinska Institute

The Karolinska Institute, based in Stockholm, is among the world’s leading medical universities. It has two campuses: KI Campus Solna and KI Campus Huddinge, located in the northwest and south of Stockholm respectively. Both campuses are a ten to fifteen minute walk or train ride from the centre of the city. Its vision is to contribute to the improvement of human health via research and teaching. The institution, which houses around six thousand students, is located close to the Karolinska University Hospital. Its research spans the whole field of medicine, from basic experimental research to patient-oriented and nursing research. The institution is the single largest conductor of academic medical research in Sweden.

It was founded by King Karl XIII in 1810 as an academy for the training of surgeons, after one in three soldiers wounded in a war against Russia died in field hospitals. In 1861, the institution was granted the right to confer degrees and gained a status equal to that of a university. In 1895, Alfred Nobel’s will bequeathed the Karolinska Institute the right to select the winner of the Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine. In 1997, the institution was granted full university status.

6. University of Stockholm

Stockholm University, founded in 1878, is one of the largest and oldest universities in Scandinavia. When the institution first opened, it held public lectures in mathematics, physics, chemistry and geology – a tradition that continues to this day. Now home to almost 70,000 students, with an intake of 1,400 foreign exchange students annually, the university prides itself on its multicultural environment. Over eighty of its degree programmes are taught in English, and Swedish language courses are available to all international students. Stockholm is one of Sweden’s pre-eminent centres for research within science, humanities and the social sciences. It is organised across four faculties, comprising sixty four academic departments between them. Stockholm University boasts a longstanding tradition of openness and innovation. Four of its researchers have received Nobel Prizes, while a fifth was awarded the Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel.

Set in the middle of a city park – the world’s first – the university describes itself as ‘a campus university in a park environment’. It is surrounded by extensive woodland, flora and fauna, including some eight hundred species of flowering plants and over a hundred species of birds. The campus is also famed for its modernist architecture, with buildings designed by the renowned Swedish architects David Helldén, Ralph Erskine and Carl Nyrén. Alongside this are works of art. A sculpture park on campus includes contributions from artists Marianne and Sivert Lindblom, and Olle Baertling. With the city centre just a metro ride away from the campus, Stockholm students have easy access to all the city’s cultural and commercial amenities. The university’s international exchange arrangements mean study abroad opportunities are plentiful across Europe.

Information taken from The World University Rankings.

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