More international students are heading to Stockholm: here’s where you’re all from

Sweden's international student body is growing, according to a new report.

More international students are heading to Stockholm: here's where you're all from
Students in the library at Stockholm University. Photo: Bertil Ericson/TT

International students make up almost 10 percent of Stockholm's total university student population, according to Staf – Stockholm's Academic Forum – an organization comprised of the City of Stockholm and 18 institutions of higher education operating in the Swedish capital.

The number of internationals rose by 14 percent in the past two years alone, compared to eight percent overall in Sweden in the same period, according to a new report by the organization.

The Indian student body grew the most (21 percent) in those years. That puts India in fifth place in Stockholm in terms of number of students, just behind Germany, Finland, China and France.


The majority of internationals are studying at Stockholm University (3,826), KTH Royal Institute of Technology (3,063) and Sweden's best-known university of medicine the Karolinska Institute (831).

The Stockholm School of Economics has the highest proportion of foreign students, with internationals making up 27 percent of its student body – an increase of 12 percent in two years.

University education is generally free in Sweden, but the number of overseas students dropped sharply in 2011 after the country introduced tuition fees for non-EU/EEA students. However, the figures (from 2016/2017) presented in Staf's new report bring Stockholm close to its pre-tuition-fee levels.

Where do Stockholm's international students come from?

1. Germany (725)
2. Finland (689)
3. China (659)
4. France (483)
5. India (333)
6. Italy (331)
7. Spain (281)
8. Greece (270)
9. United States (261)
10. Netherlands (248)

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Sweden’s Social Democrats call for ban on new free schools

Sweden's opposition Social Democrats have called for a total ban on the establishment of new profit-making free schools, in a sign the party may be toughening its policies on profit-making in the welfare sector.

Sweden's Social Democrats call for ban on new free schools

“We want the state to slam on the emergency brakes and bring in a ban on establishing [new schools],” the party’s leader, Magdalena Andersson, said at a press conference.

“We think the Swedish people should be making the decisions on the Swedish school system, and not big school corporations whose main driver is making a profit.” 

Almost a fifth of pupils in Sweden attend one of the country’s 3,900 primary and secondary “free schools”, first introduced in the country in the early 1990s. 

Even though three quarters of the schools are run by private companies on a for-profit basis, they are 100 percent state funded, with schools given money for each pupil. 

This system has come in for criticism in recent years, with profit-making schools blamed for increasing segregation, contributing to declining educational standards and for grade inflation. 

In the run-up to the 2022 election, Andersson called for a ban on the companies being able to distribute profits to their owners in the form of dividends, calling for all profits to be reinvested in the school system.  

READ ALSO: Sweden’s pioneering for-profit ‘free schools’ under fire 

Andersson said that the new ban on establishing free schools could be achieved by extending a law banning the establishment of religious free schools, brought in while they were in power, to cover all free schools. 

“It’s possible to use that legislation as a base and so develop this new law quite rapidly,” Andersson said, adding that this law would be the first step along the way to a total ban on profit-making schools in Sweden.