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AbstractDiscriminating rules of admission exclude accomplished students from universities and colleges in Sweden. Recent court cases have brought to attention that a majority of Swedish universities and colleges use positive discrimination with the intention of promoting equal rights for minority groups. The admission rules are designed to increase ethnic diversity and ensure gender equality but are contradictory to the principle of equal treatment. Moreover, positive discrimination violates basic individual rights on the behalf of group rights. Much more than a moral dilemma, positive discrimination is stipulated by international conventions that contract Sweden to take affirmative action in order to compensate for institutional discrimination. Therefore, the purpose of this paper is to examine if positive discrimination is compatible with Sweden’s human rights commitments. Focusing on discrimination on the basis of ethnicity and gender, I argue that national and international law is ambiguous in the matter of positive discrimination. Whether Swedish universities and colleges act lawful or not is a question of interpretation. Contrary to my initial assumption, differencing understandings of equality appear to be more important to the justification of positive discrimination than the interpretation of its legal field of action.