In 1977 higher education underwent comprehensive reform. Nearly all post-secondary education was integrated into a single system governed by common legislation and ordinances. The reform emphasised higher education as a preparatory step for working life and its close adjustment to the needs of working life. At the same time open admission was abolished by the Riksdag, which from now on each year decides on the dimensioning of educational study programmes and the scope of single-subject courses. The admission to education programmes was handled by a central authority that also managed the planning of education provided, including general curricula for the national study programmes. The university colleges themselves handled admission to courses.
A new act and ordinance for the higher education sector was adopted in 1993. Planning and decisions on content of study programmes was transferred to the institutions for higher education, while the responsibility for the scope and goals of the degrees remained with the Government and the Riksdag. The main aim of the reform was to give higher education institutions greater freedom in decision making over courses and admission of students, who in their turn gained greater freedom of choice.
Mainly as a result of the Bologna process, legislation for a three-cycle structure of higher education has been adopted and applied since July 2007. The new structure replaces the former system and is the only structure for all higher education. This will improve international comparability of Swedish education in accordance with the Bologna process. The former degree system has been reformed and structured to fit the new three-cycle system.
In recent years the number of students has increased and new university colleges have been established. Since 1998 each county in Sweden has at least one university or University College.