Startpage for Swedish National Agency for Higher Education


University or University College?

In Sweden there are 39 universities and university colleges. There are also independent course providers who are entitled to award higher education degrees or diplomas.

The Government decides which universities and university colleges are to exist. The Government also determines whether a higher education institution is entitled to call itself a university. The Government also decides whether an independent course provider is to be empowered to award degrees or diplomas.

The right to offer postgraduate programmes

The difference between a university and a university college is that universities are generally entitled to award postgraduate degrees. However, university colleges entitled to conduct research in a particular discipline (vetenskapsområde) have the right to offer postgraduate programmes in specific fields.

University colleges apply for the right to become universities

A university college has to apply to the Government to become a university. The Government asks the Swedish National Agency for Higher Education to appraise this application. After reviewing the application together with experts in the field, the Swedish National Agency then recommends approval or rejection of the application.

The following requirements must be fulfilled before a university college may be entitled to call itself a university:

  • Undergraduate programmes and research that are well established and of sound academic quality.
  • An adequate volume of undergraduate teaching and programmes in a number of subject areas.
  • An adequate volume of research activities and research in a number of subject areas.
  • The physical facilities, such as premises and equipment, to be able to offer undergraduate programmes and conduct research.
  • Good international contacts in undergraduate programmes and research.
  • Fulfilment of the prerequisites for the independent establishment of professorships and the award of postgraduate degrees.

Up until now four university college have been granted university status: Karlstad University, Mid-Sweden University, Växjö University and Örebro University.

Last updated: 2007-06-11
Contact person: Lennart Ståhle, e-mail:
Swedish National Agency for Higher Education  Visting address: Luntmakargatan 13  Box 7851, 103 99 Stockholm
Phone: 08-563 085 00  Fax: 08-563 085 50  E-mail: