Is this the best Swedish university for international master’s students?

Alfred Nobel, Anders Celsius, Lars Magnus Ericsson…it’s no coincidence that some of history’s most innovative minds hailed from Sweden.

Is this the best Swedish university for international master’s students?
Students strolling in the sun at Linköping University.

Perhaps it’s because the country encourages creativity — Sweden puts a strong focus on inspiring its students to think independently and question the status quo. Or possibly it’s because, in relation to GDP, it invests more into research than nearly any other nation.

At Linköping University (LiU) in southern Sweden you see all of these factors come into play. It’s likely the reason its graduates are among the first in Sweden to gain employment once they’ve completed their studies.

It’s also how the university, which boasts nearly 30,000 students and is one of the top 300 in the world, has built a world-class research environment with one unifying aim: how can the research be used to make a positive difference in the world?

Linda Johansson, 22, is in the second year of her master's degree in Sustainable Development at LiU — a fitting place to study the subject as in 2011 Linköping adopted a long-term climate goal to become completely carbon neutral by 2025.

As part of its initiative, the city works closely with the university to develop methods to reduce CO2 emissions. Even the buses are fueled by biogas produced from food waste and manure, and 95 percent of the city’s houses are connected to its two new combined heat and power plants.

Linköping is leading by example, and students on the university’s Environmental Studies programmes get the chance to be part of this exciting research community.

“I actually moved here four and a half years ago to study for my undergraduate degree in Environmental Science,” Linda says. “I really enjoyed the BA, and I really like the university and the professors, so I decided to continue my studies.”

Just one reason that inspired Linda to stay on at LiU was the opportunity to carve her own academic path. She likes the university’s interdisciplinary approach and believes it’s necessary within her chosen field.

Read more about the international master’s programmes at Linköping University

“There are other universities that have masters courses that are more specialised, but I wanted one that was broad and that I could specialise in later,” she explains.

Linda also appreciated sitting next to students focused on economics or management — topics somewhat outside her area of study.

“It makes the programme more interesting because you get lots of different perspectives,” she adds.

In addition to having different academic backgrounds, Linda’s course mates have come to Linköping from all over the world.

All of the 20 master’s programmes offered — in subject areas including Engineering and Computer Sciences, Natural Science, Education, Design, and Social Sciences — are open to international students.

The programmes run for two years and are taught in English, giving the university a dynamic and engaging international environment — something Linda feels adds to her own learnings.

“A couple of my course mates are from Sweden, but mostly they come from other countries,” she explains.

“We have students from Germany, Uganda, the UK…lots of places! It’s interesting because they all have different ideas about the topics.”

Second-year master’s student Karolos Douvlataniotis, 25, (pictured) moved to Linköping from Greece to continue his studies in Experimental and Medical Biosciences.

“I was searching for MAs in Europe and I really liked the content of the course. The university itself is also very nice; there are two campuses with everything you need,” he explains.

The fact that one of LiU’s campuses features a university hospital, with medical and biomedical departments nearby, also appealed to Karolos.

“It’s very well equipped because it’s not just for students, there are people doing real work there like research and laboratory tests for the hospitals.”

As well as offering world-class facilities, the university facilitates international student life with a series of events throughout the year.

“There are several student associations at Linköping University, such as the Erasmus Student Network, that organise events like barbecues, parties, and all sorts of other gatherings for people to get to know each other,” he adds.

Because of this, Karolos has found it easy to make friends. He also enjoys outings with them in local Linköping, which he believes is a great city for students.

Located about 200 kilometres southwest of Stockholm in the sprawling plains of Östergötland County, Linköping is Sweden’s fifth largest city with plenty to see and do all year round.

It’s home to the fascinating Swedish Air Force Museum and the Gamla Linköping Open-Air Museum where you can experience life in Sweden as it was 100 years ago, as well as cafes, restaurants, and bars serving something for everyone. It’s also home to Mjärdevi Science Park, one of Europe’s leading technology hubs.

“It’s a nice city, especially if you’re a student. It’s small enough to cycle everywhere, and there are several good options for nights out. My favourite place is Ammos, a Greek coffee house/crêperie that serves various unusual types of coffee and amazing crêpes!”

Linda would absolutely encourage others to take the plunge and study for their master’s degree at Linköping University.

“Many people are a bit scared when it comes to reading at MA level. But I think you should take the leap and do what you want,” she says.

“Studying at Linköping University has been really worth it for me, and you’ll enjoy it too if there’s something you’re interested in.”

Find out more about the international master’s programmes at Linköping University.

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



English-language programmes at Danish universities face cuts

Denmark's government has agreed on a plan to significantly reduce the number of courses offered in English in the country's universities.

English-language programmes at Danish universities face cuts
Life sciences faculty hold an open house at Copenhagen University. The university is now expected to reduce admissions as part of a plan to decentralise higher education in Denmark. Photo: Thomas Lekfeldt / Ritzau Scanpix

At the end of June, the plan aims to reduce the number of English-language higher education programmes while also expanding educational opportunities outside of Denmark’s major cities.

The exact number of courses to be cut – and where they will be cut – depends on the future employment of graduates.

Cuts to English-language programmes

The reduction of English-language programmes at institutions of higher education is rooted in an effort to reduce rising costs of state educational grants (SU) in Denmark. Despite attempts to reduce SU expenses, the cost is expected to rise to 570 million kroner by 2025, far above the cap of 449 million kroner set in 2013. 

There are a number of cases in which non-Danish citizens are entitled to SU, from moving to Denmark with one’s parents, marrying a Danish citizen, residing in Denmark for more than 5 years, status as a worker in Denmark, and more.

The reduction is targeted at English-language programmes where few English-speaking students find employment in Denmark after graduation, according to Denmark’s Ministry of Education and Research. 

Among the targeted programmes are business academies and professional bachelor programmes, where 72 percent of students are English-speaking and only 21 percent find work in Denmark after completing their education. 

However, programmes where higher proportions of English students enter the Danish workforce, and those that have a unique significance on the regional labour market, will be exempt from the reduction. This amounts to 650 education institutions around the country. 

In 2016, students demonstrated against cuts in SU. Photo: Emil Hougaard / Ritzau Scanpix

The agreement also establishes a financial incentive for institutions that graduate English-speaking students who remain to work in Denmark.

According to a June 10 analysis from consulting firm Deloitte, EU students who receive higher education in Denmark contribute an average of nearly 650,000 kroner to Denmark’s public coffers over a lifetime. 

However, the report notes, a student’s positive or negative contribution depends on how long they stay in Denmark. Although students who leave Denmark shortly after graduating constitute a cost to the Danish state, the analysis found that the contribution of students who stay in Denmark to work offsets the cost of those who leave.

The analysis expressed concern that reducing opportunities for English-language higher education could “have a number of unintended negative consequences,” including deterring students who might stay in Denmark to work from moving in the first place. There’s also the risk that it will become more difficult to recruit foreign researchers to Danish universities, which could impact education quality, the analysis claims.

The UCN professional school in Thisted is expected to open one new training program as a result of the decentralisation plan. Photo: Henning Bagger/Ritzau Scanpix

Decentralisation of Danish education

The plan to decentralise higher education in Denmark not only expands educational opportunities outside of Denmark’s major cities, but it also aims to reduce enrollment in higher education within major cities by 10 percent by 2030 (but not more than 20 percent).

For example, a law programme will be established in Esbjerg, a medical programme in Køge and a veterinary programme in Foulum.

Minister of Education and Research Ane Halsboe-Jørgensen said the goal was to offer students educational opportunities regardless of where they live within Denmark and strengthen the economy outside of major cities. 

However, the Danish Chamber of Commerce, Dansk Erhverv, expressed concern that the decentralisation plan doesn’t factor in labour demands within Denmark’s major cities.

Mads Eriksen, head of education and research policy at Dansk Erhverv, said it was “unwise” for programmes to reduce acceptance rates to in-demand fields in that particular city. 

“They are trying to solve a problem with labour in the countryside, but at the same time they are creating labour problems in the cities,” Eriksen said. “The English-language programme cuts are far more aligned with the demands of the labour market.”

Denmark has utilised unemployment-based admission for higher education since 2015. Programmes whose graduates experience unemployment consistently 2 percent higher than average are subject to a 30 percent admission cut.

Eriksen thinks it shouldn’t be a matter of reducing admissions across several universities by

“For example, we have five philosophy education programmes in Denmark, each of which have high unemployment rates among graduates,” Eriksen said, referencing a recent Dansk Erhverv analysis

He would prefer to see resources concentrated into making a couple of those programmes the best they can be and closing the rest, versus reducing admissions in all five programmes. “We have to be ready to close programmes that continue to have high unemployment, not just reduce them.”

In 2018, the University of Southern Denmark closed one English-language program and converted two from English to Danish. Photo: Tim Kildeborg Jensen / Ritzau Scanpix

Opposite impacts on provincial institutions

Gitte Sommer Harrits, vice chancellor at VIA University College, shared concern that although the decentralised education aspect of the plan aims to increase the number of students at provincial universities, the reduction of English-language programmes is likely to have the opposite effect.

A report from the organisation Akademikerne in early June found that international students have played a significant role filling educational institutions outside of Danish cities. Nine of the 10 educational institutions with the largest proportion of English-speaking students are outside the country’s largest cities. 

The University of Southern Denmark in Sønderborg has the highest proportion of international students; 40 percent of its 628 students are not affiliated with Denmark or other Nordic countries. 

While significantly larger with nearly 37,000 students, Copenhagen University has 5.2 percent international students.

Already in 2018, the University of Southern Denmark closed one English-language programme and converted two others from English to Danish after the Danish government ordered universities to reduce the number of international students.

Harrits said she found the possible closure of English-language programmes drawing international students to provincial areas to be puzzling when paired with the intention to decentralise education.