The opportunity to access higher education should be as equal as possible. To this end, the Swedish Council for Higher Education (UHR) regularly reviews how foreign grades are compared to Swedish grades in the application process for admission to higher education.

UHR aims to ensure that everyone seeking a university education has an equal chance to be admitted, regardless of their country of study. All grades are to be assessed as equally as possibly. This is why UHR carefully analyses how grades from other countries can be compared to Swedish grades. 

”Our goal is to convert foreign grades as equivalent as possible to Swedish grades,” says Tuula Kuosmanen, Department Head at UHR. ”UHR monitors changes and produces new grade conversion tables approximately every other year. We make adjustments when applicants with grades from a specific country are at an advantage or disadvantage in comparison to Swedish grades”.

Grades from 30 countries have been recalculated

Last spring, UHR made the decision to change the grade conversions for 30 countries. The new tables will come into effect starting next summer for grades from Denmark, Finland, France, Canada, Russian Federation and Syria.  The changes mean that some grades will be recalculated to a lower merit rating than previously; one such country is Syria.

”We understand and empathise with those who feel disappointed about this change,” said Tuula Kuosmanen. ”But the changes don’t specifically target applicants with a Finnish or Syrian education, or from any other country. This is a part of our regular work ensuring the application process to higher education is as fair as possible.”

Foreign grade average in UHR’s recognition statement

One of UHR’s tasks is to assess qualifications from other countries for recognition, for those who wish to work or continue their studies in Sweden. In UHR’s recognition statement for foreign upper secondary education, the applicant’s actual foreign grade average is stated. That grade average is used as the basis for the calculation of a merit rating. This merit rating is used for selection to higher education courses and programmes.

”These values are different and we understand it can create disappointment and questions” said Tuula Kuosmanen. ”But the actual merit rating is finalised when the applicant applies to higher education studies. It can include additional grades, for example from completed adult education courses from Komvux.”

UHR’s Board made the decision to change the regulations which include grade conversion tables in May of this year. They come into effect starting with admission to autumn semester 2019. The decision cannot be appealed.