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International students happy in Norway

Quality education and good reputation of research and studies are among the top listed reasons for international students to choose Norway as their study destination.

During the fall of 2012, the Norwegian Centre for International Cooperation in Education (SIU) conducted a survey among 2 104 international students enrolled in 36 Norwegian higher education institutions. Both exchange students and full degree students (i.e. doing their entire degree in Norway) answered the survey.

An increasing number of international students reported that they were satisfied or very satisfied with their experience as a foreign student in Norway (88%, compared with 86% in 2010 and 84% in 2008), exchange students being slightly more content than full degree students. Students from the Netherlands and Spain were the happiest.

“I didn`t know anything about Norway before I came, and I love it here. I love the nature and outdoor life, the cities, social opportunities, the welfare system, everything - except the prices.” (Bachelor student from the USA)

Some students found the Norwegian weather a bit disappointing:  “I thought there would be some sunshine during fall. But actually there is no sunshine at all.” (Master student from China)

The students were asked about their top reasons for choosing Norway as a study destination - a question that exchange students and full degree students answered slightly differently.  For exchange students, the four most important reasons for choosing Norway were:

  • Norwegian nature and wildlife
  • English-taught programmes and courses
  • Quality education and good reputation of research and studies
  • Modern and technologically advanced society
For full degree students, they were:
  • Quality education and good reputation of research and studies 
  • English-taught programmes and courses
  • Improved career possibilities
  • No tuition fees

As in the previous two surveys, English-taught programmes and courses were expected to be among the top listed reasons, being a primary condition for most international students to study in Norway. The Director of Communications at SIU, Kristin Solheim, is pleased that both student groups also listed quality and reputation among their main arguments.  “We are, however, pleased to see that quality and reputation weighs heavier than the fact that Norwegian higher education institutions don’t charge tuition fees”, she says.

62% of the full degree students said they would like to work in Norway after completion of their degree, compared with 50% in 2010 and 30% in 2008. Students from Portugal and Spain were the most positive in this regard, followed by students from Lithuania, Sweden, China and Russia. 60% of all the students from the USA, Canada, Germany and Poland declared they would like to work in Norway. The French students were the least positive in this regard. “The share of international students wishing to work in Norway has more than doubled between 2008 and 2012. It is natural to assume that this is related to the financial crisis and increasing unemployment rates in Europe”, Kristin Solheim says.

The report of the survey, “Omdømmeundersøkelsen 2012”, can be found on SIU's website starting April 30 (in Norwegian only).