Record numbers studying abroad

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Never before have so many Norwegians been registered for studies at colleges and universities outside Norway. The number of Norwegian students studying abroad is up 8 percent, and many are now taking their entire degree programs overseas.

Newspaper Aftenposten reported Wednesday that new figures from the state student finance agency Lånekassen show that nearly 22,000 Norwegian students were registered as studying abroad during the 2010-2011 school year and more than 14,000 Norwegian students received college degrees outside Norway last year. The most popular countries for studying abroad included Great Britain, Denmark, the US and Australia.

Percentage of those studying abroad ‘stable’
The number of Norwegian students studying in the US, for example, rose by 21 percent, to around 2,500, according to Lånekassen, which finances overseas higher education abroad through stipends to cover tuition fees and loans to cover living expenses. Parents in Norway are traditionally not expected to pay for their children’s college education, and there is no tuition charged in Norway at state schools like the University of Oslo.

Kristiane Roe Hammer, president of the Association of Norwegian Students Abroad (ANSA), said she was happy to see the increase in total numbers of Norwegian students attending foreign colleges and universities abroad. She noted, however, that more Norwegians in general are pursuing higher education than ever before as well, also within Norway, and the percentage of those studying abroad has actually remained stable.

Concerns over geographic spread
Hammer was also concerned that fewer Norwegian students are attending schools in non-western countries, likely because the first year abroad isn’t covered since officials long have equated it with the last year of Norwegian high school (videregåendeskole). She also said that the number of Norwegians studying in Russia has stagnated, that there’s been a decline in those attending school in Brazil and that there was only a small increase in the number of those studying in China, “much weaker than we had hoped.”

That’s because China, Brazil and Russia are viewed as important trade partners for Norway in the years to come, “and it’s important to educate students who will have ties to those countries.” She thinks more students choose to study in Great Britain and Denmark, for example, because then they are eligible for stipends and loans from the first year.

All told, the Norwegian state financed higher education for Norwegian students abroad in an amount of NOK 2.6 billion (USD 472 million) last year.

Views and News from Norway/Nina Berglund
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