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Swedish Doctors Are Going Abroad For Further Studies, Increased By 33%

The percentage of Swedish Ph.D. candidates who have spent time abroad as part of their degree has increased in the three years leading up to 2020, according to data from the Swedish Higher Education Authority (UK).

In 2020, almost 33% of the 2,574 doctoral candidates had participated in education abroad programs, with the United States being the most prevalent location. Two years ago, almost 27% of grads said the same. The EU has a framework in place to ensure that at least 20% of graduates study abroad for at least three months.

The University of Gothenburg and Lund University had the greatest percentages of doctoral graduates who said they had completed a portion of their studies abroad. The 109 Gothenburg grads constituted 43 percent of the Ph.D. cohort, while the 107 Lund graduates represented 29 percent of the doctoral cohort.

Science and technology were the most prevalent topics for Ph.D. holders to have traveled overseas, with 29 percent and 22 percent, respectively, claiming to have done so. According to UK analyst Eva Stening, the natural sciences have the second-highest number of doctoral candidates traveling abroad, trailing only the medical and health sciences. She added that because many of the later work in the health care system, they are less likely to travel.

Following the United States, the United Kingdom and Germany were popular destinations, with Stening explaining that the countries had a big number of exchange programs with Sweden, both for postdoctoral studies and for first- and second-cycle students.

“It is possible that we will see changes in the number of doctoral students visiting the UK in the future (due to Brexit),” she said.

These results also showed that somewhat more applicants participated in programs that were not supported by the EU than in programs that were funded by the union. This is too early to predict how the pandemic has impacted the number of doctorate candidates going overseas using survey data from 2021. There are many EU-funded programs for first- and second-cycle students, but only a few for Ph.D. studies. This is most likely why more doctorate students are on non-EU-funded trips.

These figures illustrate how many Ph.D. graduates in 2020 have traveled abroad at some point during their doctorate program. It also suggests they could have traveled abroad in 2016, for example, and there is no way of knowing when.

As part of the EU’s joint plan for growth and jobs, Europa2020, a goal of having at least 20% of graduates in the European region of higher education have spent a period of study or internship abroad lasting at least three months is included.

According to the UK poll, brief vacations overseas of three months or less were the most common, with 66 percent spending between zero and three months elsewhere.

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