Sweden is known for being a tolerant and multicultural society and therefore it is no surprise that it has a tradition of welcoming people from all over the world to study in the country – currently this number is around 30,000. In order to qualify for an internship you will need to be at least 19 years old and to be able to communicate fluently in English. The length of placements can range from six months to two years depending on what you are studying and the organization you are working for.
Training placements in Sweden can be organised via:
- EU programmes – Comenius (future school teachers) and Erasmus (higher education)
- Nordplus-programmes (Participants from the participating Nordic and Baltic countries – Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway and Sweden – are eligible for financial support from Nordplus. Participants from other countries may take part in programme activities, but are not eligible for financial support from the programme)
- IAESTE (The International Association for the Exchange of Students for Technical Experience)
- Student organisations
The Erasmus programme is probably the most common one. All degree students enrolled at a European university are able to join the Erasmus traineeship mobility programme. The organizations that host student placements can be companies, training and research centres or other types of organization. An Erasmus traineeship will always be included as part of the trainee’s degree studies. Finding a suitable placement is the student’s responsibility, so they need to be pro-active. When the student has found a placement, he/she is able to apply for an Erasmus placement grant from his/her home university that covers some of the living costs. (European Commission 2012)
In addition to placement programmes, many student organizations also run training placements in their particular fields of study. That is why probably the best way for students to find a placement is to make contact with a student organization in their own field. Especially in the case of vocational education, international placements are organised via schools.
- http://www.studyinsweden.se/Living-in-Sweden [en]
- http://www.visitsweden.com/sweden/ [en]
- http://www.swedenabroad.com/ [en]
- http://www.migrationsverket.se/info/start_en.html [en]
- http://www.sweden.se [en]
Internship and placement advice
There are many practical issues related to international placements that need to be taken care of either by the trainee or the host company. It is important to allow enough time for all the arrangements and the necessary formalities. The training organizations, educational institutes and home and host organizations will be able to help with the formalities.
Social security and European health insurance card
The Swedish health care and social welfare systems are heavily subsidized (mostly tax-financed). As a visitor it is your responsibility to take care of insurance which will offer you some benefits. Without insurance, medical treatment in Sweden is very expensive.
Before arriving in Sweden, you need to ensure that you have adequate health insurance coverage. If you are a citizen of any of the Nordic, EU/EEA countries or Switzerland, you will have access to essential health care if you register beforehand at a social insurance office in your home country and obtain a European Health Insurance card. Alternatively, you can arrange your own insurance cover beforehand in your home country.
As a visiting non-EU/EEA student, if your program is longer than one year, you are entitled to the same health benefits as Swedes if you register at your tax office. However, the medical insurance doesn’t cover your journey to Sweden. If you are a non-EU/EEA student and are staying less than a year, you do not have automatic access to health care. In this case you might still have an opportunity for governmental Kammarkollegiet insurance. Sweden also has reciprocal agreements for medical benefits with a number of countries. Students from countries with this type of agreement need only present their passport and a certificate from their national social insurance office when seeking medical help. To find out whether these are available to you, contact the host organization or the social insurance office in your home country. Students who are not covered by any of these agreements must arrange their own insurance cover.
If you are taken ill or injured, go to your district health centre (vårdcentralen) first. Vårdcentralen will charge you about SEK 150-200 for a consultation. If the centre is closed, go to the nearest hospital. If it´s a serious emergency and you need an ambulance, dial 112.
Do not be afraid to contact the police and other authorities in Sweden, since Sweden is one of the least corrupt countries in the world.
Do I need a visa?
Whether you need a visa depends on your country of citizenship. Citizens of all European Union member states, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland do not need a visa in EU countries.
Where a student would need to apply for a visa, finding an internship and signing a contract with the host company must be completed before starting the visa process. To confirm visa requirements it is advisable to contact the Swedish consulate or embassy in your home country.
If your internship in Sweden will last longer than three months, you will also need a residence permit before arriving in Sweden. To get a decision in time, it is important that you apply for a residence permit immediately once your internship has been confirmed. Applications should be made at a Swedish consulate or embassy and successful applicants will be given a residence permit card. Since this card is proof of your residence permit, you should show it, along with a valid passport when you enter Sweden.
Internship and placement salary
Internships may be paid or unpaid. Quite often students receive a salary cover their living costs from traineeships that are part of their higher education degree. If the training takes place via a placement programme, students are usually entitled to a living allowance or wage that covers food, accommodation and travel to and from work, and also includes a small amount to help the student learn about the new culture.
Internship and placement accommodation
Often, the associations that organize training placements will be able to help students to find accommodation. Sometimes it is the responsibility of the host organization to arrange accommodation for the trainee. The trainee can also search for rented flats on the open market, but this can be difficult especially prior to arriving in Sweden. However, student housing is likely to be a more affordable option than renting a flat on the open market.
It is advisable to enquire about housing options from the host organization or from the local student housing foundation. Depending on availability, you can choose to live by yourself or in a shared student flat where you will have your own room but share a bathroom. The monthly rent naturally varies depending on the location, size and type of the flat. The average monthly rent in student accommodation ranges from approximately SEK 2,000 to 4,500 for a room.