Startpage for Swedish National Agency for Higher Education

Please note! The Swedish National Agency for Higher Education was closed down on 31 December 2012. Instead two new agencies have been established: the Swedish Council for Higher Education and the Swedish Higher Education Authority. This website will continue to operate as the new agencies will have links to information it contains.  

2007:08 R

Evaluation of undergraduate and postgraduate programmes in Public Health, postgraduate programmes in Rehabilitation and postgraduate programmes in Disability Science

This report shows the results of the Högskoleverket evaluation of undergraduate and postgraduate programmes in Public Health, postgraduate programmes in Rehabilitation and postgraduate programmes in Disability Science in 2006.

For this assignment, Högskoleverket appointed 11 external experts active within these fields, of which one in Finland , two in Norway and eight in Sweden.

The report is in two parts. One part covers the decisions and reflections of Högskoleverket, the other a statement by the evaluators regarding higher education in these fields. The decisions and reflections of Högskoleverket are based on this statement.

Based on the statement by the Evaluation Group, Högskoleverket questions the right of Blekinge tekniska högskola [Blekinge Institute of Technology], Gymnastik and idrottshögskolan i Stockholm (The Swedish School of Sport and Health Sciences) and Örebro University to issue Bachelor´s degrees in Public Health.

When it comes to Public Health, the Evaluation Group considers that the general population perspective should be at the core of the programme. In general, however, the undergraduate programmes in Public Health at the universities emphasise individualised public health work and there are too few courses which take up health systems/health policies and health economics. At the same time, the subject identity is weak and there is no clear common understanding of the subject among teachers, students and postgraduates.

A common failing is weak progression and, in the undergraduate programmes, also a lack of links to research. To some extent, this may be because the subjects are multidisciplinary and broad. Another cause may be that opportunities for teachers to carry out their own research in the subject varies from university to university, and that some of these are adjudged to be too small to enable adequate channels to research. Other common failings include weak internationalisation and weak integration of the gender perspective.
Within postgraduate programmes, postgraduate access to postgraduate programme courses in Public Health is limited and in some cases there are no courses at all at the universities in question. Seminar activities within the subject are also inadequately developed. The Evaluation Group states that it is possible to be accepted into postgraduate programmes and publicly defend a doctoral thesis in Public Health without having taken a single course in the subject. Postgraduate programmes in Disability Science are adjudged to be better in these respects.

Although there are weaknesses in the programmes, the teaching and tutoring received good appraisals as did the integration of theory and practice. Student and postgraduate democracy works well and infrastructure is generally very good with access to modern premises and libraries.

The Evaluation Group states that there are currently too many places available on undergraduate programmes in Public Health in Sweden. Even if the number of applicants is relatively high, they say that the labour market situation for these qualifications can be quite tough as students compete with people in other professional categories for the same jobs. With regard to Rehabilitation and Disability Science, the Evaluation Group report that these are programmes which are unique for their kind in Sweden.

The programmes offered in the three subjects are popular, especially among women. This gender imbalance is a problem, however. Among the teaching staff, either men or women are over-represented in the various universities.
Much is happening within Public Health training programmes in Sweden. Since the evaluation started, some programmes have been built up and developed while others have been discontinued. Some of the information in the report can be considered as having a short shelf life, but a good deal of important issues will probably remain topical for a long time. There is great interest and great involvement in Public Health at the universities. This bodes well for the continued development of training programme quality. In order to further increase the quality, Högskoleverket encourages universities which offer, or plan to offer, degree programmes in Public Health, Rehabilitation or Disability Science to take note of the contents of this report and apply them to their activities.

Last updated:
Contact person: , e-mail: