Access to education

Sweden

Country Report: Access to education Last updated: 30/11/20

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Asylum seeking children have full access to the Swedish school system and they are to a great extent integrated in regular schools. They are not covered by the law obliging children between the ages of 6 and 16 to attend school but have the right to attend, if they so wish. The right to go to school has also been confirmed in law for those children still present in Sweden with an expulsion order and who have absconded with their parents.[1]

Children between 16 and 18 often have to attend a preparatory course to improve their skills in Swedish and other core subjects before being able to access vocational education. Nevertheless, once they have gone through this preparatory phase they are not prohibited in theory from taking a vocational course. If a teenager begins a 3-year course at the age of 16 or 17 and is still in Sweden without a permit 2 years later, they will be allowed to continue their course. However, persons who are over 18 upon arrival in Sweden have no access to secondary education.

Children also have the right to lessons in their own mother tongue on a regular basis, if there are more than 5 pupils with the same language in the area. Itinerant mother tongue teachers are employed for that purpose.

With entry into force of the temporary law in 2016, access to upper secondary school education was reduced. Since amendments to the law that entered into force in June 2017 and again in July 2018, there are, however, possibilities to get a residence permit allowing applicants to continue their studies.[2] There are many factors that affect whether the person may get a residence permit for upper secondary education studies. The rules are different for asylum seekers and for people with a temporary residence permit that they wish to extend. The rules also vary depending on whether the person is an unaccompanied child, whether he or she is studying on a national program or on an induction programme, and in some cases on the date the first application for asylum was received, the duration of the processing time of the asylum application at first instance and whether the asylum seeker was considered to be an adult or a child at the date of the first instance decision.

The duration of the residence permit depends inter alia on the length of the course and whether it is a national or induction programme. A residence permit can be granted for 4 years or 13 months. The applicant can also get a residence permit that is valid for 6 months after the course is completed. The amendment is not only applicable to unaccompanied children; young persons coming to Sweden together with their families may also apply for a residence permit on the grounds of their upper secondary school studies. It also applies to people over the age of 18 but under 25.[3]

There have been criticisms pointing out that very few people match all criteria to be granted residence permit on this ground.[4] On 1 July 2018, a new legislation was introduced which made it easier to be granted residence permit to finish secondary education for persons who: (i) had applied for asylum before 24 November 2015, (ii) had been considered as minors when applying for asylum, (iii) had a processing time of at least 15 months at first instance and (iv) had turned 18 when the expulsion decision was ordered.[5] By August 2019, 7,303 persons have been granted residence permits based on this provision.[6]

 

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[1]   Swedish Parliament, Betänkande 2012/13:UbU12 Utbildning för barn som vistas i landet utan tillstånd, available at: http://bit.ly/1GfU4uO.

[2]  Migration Agency, ‘Frågor och svar om uppehållstillstånd för gymnasiestudier’, available in Swedish at: https://bit.ly/2GnP2l1.

[3] FARR, ‘Uppehållstillstånd för gymnasister – Hur funkar det?’, 14 June 2017, available in Swedish at: https://bit.ly/2GluI3N.

[4]  Swedish Television, ‘Migrationsverket: ”Gymnasielagen ingen räddning’, 6 October 2017, available in Swedish at: http://bit.ly/2GpkjBC.

[5] Section 16 f, Law on temporary limitations to the possibility of being granted a residence permit in Sweden.

[6]  Swedish Red Cross, Mitt liv räknas, February 2020, available in Swedish at: https://bit.ly/2A8rFdX.

 

Table of contents

  • Statistics
  • Overview of the legal framework
  • Overview of the main changes since the previous report update
  • Asylum Procedure
  • Reception Conditions
  • Detention of Asylum Seekers
  • Content of International Protection
  • ANNEX – I Transposition of the CEAS in national legislation