As an international student at the Swedish University of Agriculture (Uppsala campus) and a student ambassador, I am being presented with many questions associated with studying in Sweden. However, one recurring question, particularly from potential international students from outside of Europe is this: “Seyi, as a student, can one work while studying?” sometimes paraphrased more directly: “Are there jobs in Sweden for students?”

can one work while studying?

You are wondering what my answers are. ???? Thinking about it now, I must say that my responses have varied from time to time, depending on who is asking, what’s the stage of application, what country is the person from, and what I perceive the person’s expectations to be.

Justifiably, it is of great importance to many students to know if they are allowed to work while studying and what options are available. I honestly admit and cannot mince words that living in Sweden, especially now, could be significantly expensive and highly regulated, particularly, if you make a comparison with your home country (depending on what part of the world you are coming from) or places you’ve lived previously. If you are coming from outside the EU (e.g., Nigeria) and you think you have saved up “enough!” wait until you’ve converted your currency to Swedish Kronor (SEK) and had to pay a few months’ rent, buy food every day, periodically transport yourself (if you have to); then you’ll be shocked with the little you have left before the first semester is over.

Sorry, I digress! Back to the subject, to answer the question: if you (as a student) can work while schooling? I have been influenced by reading many scientific papers without a “Yes” or “No” position, so I have no direct response to this question. Nonetheless, here are some of my reflections that may guide your planning, as a potential student who plans to work while studying in Sweden.

  1. As a rule of thumb, Sweden grants international students the right to work while they study based on the study (residence) permit, however, this is not equal to a “work permit.”
  2. Uppsala is Sweden’s 4th largest city, however, keep in mind that it is predominantly a student community, so it could be far easier to get jobs in other cities like Stockholm, Gothenburg, or Malmo that are bigger, dynamic and more mixed.
  3. Hoping to pay your next semester’s tuition fees based on the salary from a potential job is better imagined than experienced, I wouldn’t advise such.
  4. If your projection is to work with a Swedish company, speaking the Swedish language gives you an advantage, though English is mostly spoken and understood. You’re luckier if you get a direct recommendation and having a driver’s license may come in handy too! (Adnan wrote about driver’s license here)
  5. Tax is a thing! When you eventually get a job that pays handsomely, remember that paying your tax in Sweden is non-negotiable. Sometimes as high as 30%, that’s how the Swedish system breaths!
  6. You may have very impressive previous work experiences or solid educational credentials from your home country, but do not think that automatically guarantees you to get the preferred professional job in Sweden.
  7. Working in Sweden could be quite intensive, since you have to uphold the written and unwritten Swedish work values – showup punctual and organized (even to virtual meetings), properly task plan ahead, communicate clearly with colleagues, etc. The big question is, how do you combine all these with a 100% full-time study?

Summarily, as an international student, it is the best option to have a scholarship: full, partial, or periodic, being a scholarship recipient helps you to devote more time to studying than having to necessarily work to stay afloat as a student. In conclusion, apart from looking for a job, look out for internship or volunteering opportunities too. Belong to as many student communities and ask questions (some student nations or student unions have jobs for students), learn from the experiences of those ahead of you, while at that be careful who you ask and also make for yourself what you will from the information you get from them. Even the easiest of jobs (flexible, remote, night) which you may eventually find as a student could be very demanding and require a lot of attention and this is why it is usually recommended not to work while studying, as you will find on the school’s FAQ.

A picture of the university walkway showing the Swedish flags
SLU walkway entry

No intention to scare you but hopefully these reflections provide you with a tailored answer to the question: can I work while studying in Sweden?

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