Higher vocational education in Sweden

Videregående erhvervsuddannelse i Sverige
Read about higher vocational education, admission requirements, and how higher vocational education differs from university education in Sweden.

Higher vocational education in Sweden

Higher vocational education is called HVE (yrkeshögskoleutbildning, YH-utbildning) in Sweden. HVE programmes combine theory with practical learning in a workplace. The work placement is called  Learning in a Work Environment (lärande i arbete LIA)  and is an important part of HVE programmes.

Higher vocational education programmes of at least one year result in a Higher Vocational Educational Diploma (Yrkeshögskoleexamen). Programmes of at least two years result in an Advanced Higher Vocational Educational Diploma (Kvalificerad yrkeshögskoleexamen). This is a nationally approved and quality-assured diploma, recognised by most companies.

The programmes are offered in sectors where there is a need for skilled labour. The content in HVE programmes is based on knowledge that has developed through production of goods and services. The aim is that the programmes will lead to a job or self-employment directly after you have taken the diploma. The content and specialisations of the HVE programmes vary according to labour market needs.

There are both private and public institutions. All programmes are approved by  the Swedish National Agency for Higher Vocational Education (Myndigheten för Yrkeshögskolan)  and they are reviewed regularly. The programmes are run in collaboration with industry.

HVE programmes

HVE programmes are compiled in response to industry needs. The programmes are at post-upper secondary level and provide skills in professional areas in, for example, building and construction, IT, agriculture, media, healthcare and care, technology, restaurants and business finance and administration.

HVE programmes are therefore found in many different sectors throughout Sweden. You can find information about the individual   programme areas and locations on the website of  Higher Vocational Education (Yrkeshögskolan).

Admission to higher vocational education programmes in Sweden

To apply for admission to an HVE programme, you must satisfy the admission requirement regarding eligibility. The requirements for this are common to all HVE programmes - the most important is that you are expected to complete the programme.

Entry requirements

You fulfil the entry requirements and are eligible if you satisfy one of the following:

  • You have a school-leaving diploma (slutbetyg) from a national or special programme at upper secondary level with at least the lowest grade, pass (godkänt).
  • You have a school-leaving diploma (slutbetyg) from adult education at upper secondary level with at least the lowest grade, pass (godkänt).
  • You have Swedish or foreign educational qualification that correspond to the requirements in point 1 or 2.
  • You live in Denmark, Finland, Iceland or Norway and fulfil the entry requirements for study programmes equivalent to the Swedish HVE programmes.
  • You have acquired, through Swedish or foreign education, practical experience or through some other circumstance obtained the prerequisites needed to fulfil the programme requirements.

The entry requirements do not just take into account formal qualifications, but also the actual skills possessed by the applicant.

Special requirements for prior knowledge

Most HVE programmes have special requirements for prior knowledge (särskilda förkunskaper), which means you must have studied certain subjects or have specific professional experience in order to apply for the programme. Information about this can be found in the search function on  Yrkeshogskolan.se  under each programme.

Differences between higher vocational education and university/university college

There are quite big differences between studying on an HVE programme and at a university/university college. Here are some of the most important differences:

Higher Vocational Education 

Number of years to final diploma: 1-2

Vocational studies: Yes

Theoretical level: Medium-high

Teaching hours/week: 18 

Contact with working life: Great contact 

LIA/work placement Yes

University college/University

Number of years to final diploma: 4-5

Vocational studies: Depends on programme

Theoretical level: High

Teaching hours/week 2-10

Contact with working life: Little or no contact

LIA/work placement: Usually none

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