Economic Overview of Sweden and what it means for International Students
Sweden has in recent times attracted a strong response from students planning to study abroad. The excellent universities, easy visa processing, the advantages of a European higher education coupled with a rather comfortable exchange rate make it a great study abroad destination. Furthermore, the obvious excellence of the IT sector of the country invites some of the best engineering minds in the world.
However, while it is all well, students planning to study abroad also wonder about job prospects, the basic employment rates, and the opportunities the country has to offer. All this is in turn related to the economy of the country, which we would discuss in this article. We would also discuss the impact of the same on international students planning to study in Sweden.
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Economic Overview of Sweden
Historically, Sweden has been an export-based economy. Its uniquely neutral political stand helped save the economy from a lot of influences, including the disruptive world wars. As such, it was perhaps one of the few countries which were able to withstand and even profit from the economic recession that hit the globe. Also, though it is a member state of the European Union, it does not accept the Euro as its currency and has retained the Swedish Krona.
However, not all turned out well and the Swedish Economy was hit by a severe recession in the 1990s. Fiscal changes were brought into effect and the economy recovered only to be again jolted by the economic downturn. The country however is on the path to recovery.
At present, the economic growth rate of Sweden is pegged at about a rather steady 1.2 per cent (2019). The country continues to have a rather high per capita income and constitutes of highly skilled workforce. Employment rates, or rather unemployment rates continue to be a concern for the country.
What does this mean for International Students?
There are lots of statistics and reports that show that the number of international students who were granted work permits after finishing their studies in Sweden has seen a uniform increase. This development was the result of various factors.
On the one hand, Sweden introduced new regulations for labour migration in 2009 which has meant that the employers’ demand for labour force is now a driving factor, and human resources are brought forward as an important part of global migration.
International students are now able to move easily to Sweden to work on the condition that he or she has an offer of employment. As part of the system, it is now also relatively easy for students with ‘residence permits for study reasons’ to change to a ‘permit for work reasons’ without having to leave the country.
These factors could be the reason behind the increasing number of students throughout the years leading up to 2019 and thereby also the number of foreign nationals looking for employment upon completing their studies. In this context, it is important to note that international students are allowed to work during their studies.
By coming into contact with employers and gaining experience in the labour market at such an early stage, it can be easier for them to find employment after receiving their degrees. Unlike a number of other European countries. So in these ways, Swedish policies and the economy are a lot more international student-friendly than other countries.
Here are a few pointers on why the Swedish economy is considered international student-friendly -
- Sweden ranks among the top countries in terms of spending on education.
- There is strong government support for education and research: the government has announced large investments in the engineering education sector
- Sweden enjoys a 68.3% employment rate for all levels of education – the second-highest rate of all OECD countries after Iceland.
- Sweden ranks first on the GCI (Global Creativity Index), which measures creativity and prosperity.
- It ranks second in the area of innovation. Sweden has a high ratio of research and development personnel and is leading in innovative inventions (computer mouse, the pacemaker, Skype, Spotify) and creative industries (IKEA).
- The World Economic Forum ranks it second globally in competitiveness
- Swedish degrees are given high recognition internationally, and a number of institutions have strong reputations, especially in business and technology. Swedish universities distinguish themselves by their informal didactic learning environment, an open climate, with a strong focus on group work.
- More than 400 master’s level courses are taught in English, doubling the number in the last four years and the number is still increasing.
- Sweden ranks in the top five in the provision of courses taught in English at European universities.
- No work permit is required for visiting researchers.
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