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Geographical Discrepancies in Higher Education in Sweden

Rural and Regional Development . 2024, 2(1), 10004;
Thomas Blom , *    Mats Nilsson ,   
Department of Geography, Media and Communication, Karlstad University, SE 651 88 Karlstad, Sweden
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Received: 13 Dec 2023    Accepted: 26 Jan 2024    Published: 06 Feb 2024   


There is a growing awareness of the importance of higher education in Sweden to reduce social differences in society. There are also various mechanisms that individuals relate to that favour either the status quo or change based on an ideal of higher education. Individuals live in a geographical context with a number of ‘key actors’ who influence the perception of higher education with varying degrees of intensity. Paradoxically, despite several reforms to broaden recruitment, it can be seen that relative inequalities persist in terms of residents with higher education in Sweden, not least from a regional perspective. The purpose of this article is to shed light on geographical differences in the higher education level of the population over time from a Swedish perspective. The study shows that higher education has a geographical centre-periphery perspective, but not exclusively. There are thus additional influencing factors that in various ways relate to the social context in which the individual is located. We can conclude from our empirical data that the reforms implemented to broaden recruitment have not had the desired effect, especially for the group of men. We find it likely that what differentiates women and men is who their individual ‘key players’ are and how they interact. From an academic education perspective and as an intermediary of higher education, there is therefore a challenge to be able to identify who these “key players” are in order to be able to be an important actor in contributing to the desired broader recruitment that the government is striving to achieve.
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© 2024 by the authors; licensee SCIEPublish, SCISCAN co. Ltd. This article is an open access article distributed under the CC BY license (