Why Americans love studying in Sweden

International students from around the world often jump at the chance to study in the US. So why is that some American students are defecting to study in Sweden instead?

Why Americans love studying in Sweden
Photo: Linköping University

The Local spoke to a current student and alumnus of Sweden’s Linköping University to find out why they swapped the States for Scandinavia.

Lower fees

In the US, an undergraduate degree can set you back around $100,000 (€90,270) while the average cost of a master’s degree is between $30,000-$120,000 (€27,000-€108,000). 

EU students can study for free at Swedish universities and while tuition fees vary for US students – and depending on the subject – it generally costs a lot less to study in Sweden. There are also scholarships available for international students that normally reduce tuition fees by 50 percent.

Photo: Anne Moyerbrailean

“It’s majorly cheaper,” says Anne Moyerbrailean, who recently graduated from LiU with a master’s degree in Gender Studies. “I think most master’s programmes in the US are about $30,000 (€27,000) a year. Whereas, at Linköping University, all I had to do was fill out a form and they gave me 50 percent off my tuition. You just can’t compare.”

Find out how to apply for master’s study at Linköping University

More independence

For Ohio native Adam Grachek, who is in the first semester of a M.Sc. in Intelligent Transport Systems & Logistics, a key difference between studying in Sweden and the US is that the university takes more of a backseat in students’ social lives. While LiU hosts many events and activities, students also play a more active role in organizing student life.

It’s far from the only way that independence is nurtured at LiU. American students might be initially surprised to discover a different approach to learning in Sweden. Whatever the programme, there is always a focus on independent learning and critical thinking — students take the reins of their own education, working in study groups to solve real-world challenges and develop skills that will be valued by future employers.

Photo: Adam Grachek

READ ALSO: The European university turning student ideas into startups

A global education

The world becomes more globalized each year and education needs to keep up. Anne found that taking gender studies in Sweden gave her a more global perspective on the subject — which she is unsure she would have gotten if she remained in the US to study.

“In my experience, there was more of a worldliness to the professors’ approach. I think the US, in a lot of places and ways, falls into this trap of just looking at the US context. Whereas I felt the professors at LiU took a really global approach to feminist studies. And the fact that we were reading texts in so many different languages definitely changes the lens on it.”

Browse international degrees taught in English at Linköping University

It’s more relaxed

Nobody said getting a university degree would be a walk in the park but the Swedish education system is certainly more laidback. For one, relationships between students and professors are less formal and often on a first-name basis. According to Adam, the arrangement of the academic year also takes the stress out of studying in Sweden.

“In the US, there’s one long period of five classes so the workload is more hectic. In Sweden, the period is split up better so that students can focus on one thing at a time. It’s still rigorous and intellectually rewarding with as much process and thought put into the classes but it makes it less stressful.”

Anne believes that the lower fees alleviate some of the pressure — although it doesn’t mean the education is taken any less seriously. It made her feel more relaxed about retaking exams without worrying about how many thousands of dollars the resit would cost her.

“There’s a flexibility and spaciousness. I think it really enhanced my learning experience.”

Diverse student body

There are around 2,400 international students at LiU enrolled on the university’s 28 international programmes. The diverse student body was a bonus for Anne who enjoyed meeting and studying with people from all over the world. It also led to much livelier and more enriching in-class discussions.

“We would talk about things I never even thought about – or came close to thinking about! That was really cool. Before I started the program, I thought I had a well-rounded understanding of systems like gender and sexuality. But through group discussions, I gained a deeper appreciation of the ways these systems shape people differently in different countries. Instead of just learning from books, the Tema Genus program granted me the opportunity to learn from the lived experiences of a diverse cohort.” 

Stepping stone into Europe

Studying at a European university is the gateway to a life and career in Europe where Americans can enjoy perks like more days of annual leave and benefits for families. For example, workers in Sweden get 25 days of vacation and 480 days of parental benefits to share between both parents.

Adam is getting a head start by working as a part-time international student ambassador while he completes his master’s degree, blogging about his study experience. Although Anne is now back in the US, she hopes that this isn’t the end of her European adventure and pictures herself one day living and working in Europe.

“I hope one day to actually move back to Europe and work for the UN or a similar organization.”

This article was produced by The Local Creative Studio and sponsored by Linköping University.


Five things to know about the ‘best university in Spain’

A new prestigious global university rankings has included several Spanish institutes albeit well down the list. Here's what you need to know about the university that finsihed the highest in the rankings.

Five things to know about the 'best university in Spain'
Photo: Jesús Corrius/Flickr
The QS World University Rankings, one of the big three most-read top schools lists, has just been released, and it includes 27 Spanish universities amongst the world’s top thousand.
While no Spanish school ranked in the top 100, university administrators argue that they’re doing more with less – Spanish schools have about €6,000 in funding per student/per year, a fraction of the €100,000 or so spent on each student per year at the American universities at the top of the list. 
The top Spanish school was declared to be the Universitat de Barcelona, ranked 165th globally. Here are 5 things worth knowing about the university declared by QS to be the best in Spain:
A university with tradition
The Universitat de Barcelona was listed as one of the 25 best universities in the world with more than 400 years of history by QS. The school was founded back in 1450 by King Alfonso V (“the Magnanimous”) of Aragon, making it 569 years old.
While it’s not as old as Spain’s historic University of Salamanca, founded in 1134, it is ranked almost 500 spots higher in the QS World University Rankings.
Photo: Jordi Domènech/Wikimedia Commons
One of the biggest universities in Spain
With more than 46,000 full-time students and around 63,000 students all categories included, the Universitat de Barcelona has one of the largest student bodies in Spain. 
It is the fourth largest university in Spain in terms of full-time students, after the University of Seville, the Complutense in Madrid, and the University of Granada.
Strong points: academic reputation and graduate employability
One of the factors that contributed to the Universitat de Barcelona’s “best in Spain” was its good academic reputation, rated at 71 out of 100 by QS. Academic reputation is the most heavily-weighted component in the QS World University rankings, and is judged by it surveying the opinions of over 94,000 individuals in the field of higher education with regards to an institution’s teaching and research quality.
Another factor that helped the Universitat de Barcelona distinguish itself was the high employability of its graduates. There, they cracked the top 100, ranking 82nd globally, making them the most employable university graduates in Spain, a quality that demonstrates itself with 90% graduate employment rate.
Weakness: a lack of international faculty
If there’s one category the Universitat of Barcelona could improve in, it’s international faculty. QS values an international faculty as the mark of a strong international brand and a global outlook, and incorporates into its ranking system.
The Universitat de Barcelona was graded an abysmal 5.8 out of 100 on this metric, probably because only 134 of its 3,923 faculty members are from outside of Spain. That’s a 3.4% international faculty for a student body made up of 15% international students from at least 122 different countries. 
Looks like that scene in L’Auberge Espagnole where the professor refuses to teach in any language but Catalan might have contained a grain of truth in it…
An affordable education
Unlike the schools at the top of the international list, the Universitat de Barcelona provides a reasonably-priced education, charging domestic students around €1,750 to €3,500 per school year. International students are charged a little bit more, as undergraduates pay €7,000 – €9,000 per year and graduate students are charged €3,500 – €5,500 per year.
Compared to the €42,500 – €44,500 per year that top ranked Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) students can expect to pay, that doesn’t sound to bad.