Switch to Sweden – Data Driven Solution to Improve International Student Retention in Sweden

Report on Improving International Student Retention in Sweden


Switch to Sweden is a national project, financed by Vinnova, that aims to increase the number of qualified matches between Swedish companies and highly-skilled international talent that is already in Sweden. Working with Linköping Science Park, we seeked to gain more insight into these two target groups identifying needs and opportunities to improve the chance of preparing international students and Swedish companies for a successful match. 


The challenge

‘Retention is the new attraction’ – Why do 75% of international master & PhD students originally plan on staying in Sweden, but only about 20% end up doing so? Where is the gap? What doesn’t add up? And what could be the concrete steps to take to bridge that gap and get more of the talent to stay?

The recruitment of international students and researchers has become critical for Swedish organizations. This is due to the growing need for skilled talent, mostly in knowledge-intensive industries. However, as evident from data most competent international talent leaves Sweden after finishing their studies. 


The solution

We helped Linköping Science Park by taking lead on the talent part of the project to: 

  1. Develop the actual questionnaire leveraging our strong experience in the Swedish market and European wide insights on talent drivers and obstacles of young professionals transitioning from graduation to professional endeavours. 
  2. Provide the strategy to identify and reach the target group to secure respondents to the survey and support the operational activities of doing so. 
  3. Analyse the data and provide recommendations for actions to a wide net of stakeholders across Sweden.


The result

The analysis has been based on these primary research questions:

  • Why do international students come to Sweden?
  • What is the experience of STEM students when they look for jobs in Sweden?
  • What do students need the most help with to be able to stay after graduation?
  • What are the attitudes towards recruiting international master and research talents?
  • What support do companies need to be able to increase the recruitment of international students?
  • What’s the general perspective of both target groups regarding the Global UN Sustainability Goals when it comes to exploring a career?


The essential findings of this report are the need to support companies and students in three specific areas:

  1. Language and culture
  2. Migration and administration 
  3. Retention and integration


Any questions, or something we can help you with? Get in touch!

More on the topic

Future Place Leadership and Linköping Science Park are currently conducting a European wide Talent Map Survey. Read more here.

Find our free handbooks & white papers on Talent Attraction and retention at our handbook library!


Let's Chat!

Get in touch with us today to see how Future Place Leadership can help your organisation succeed.