Foreign students now make up fully 10 percent of all college students in Norway, attracted by Norway’s free tuition and more coursework offered in English. The number of foreign students in Norway has doubled just in the past 10 years.
University newspaper Universitas reported this week that nearly 24,000 international students were enrolled at Norwegian colleges and universities in the most recent school year, 2013-2014. That’s up from around 12,000 in 2005, according to a new report from the Senter for internasjonalisering av utdanning (SIU).
The total number of students registered in Norway was 269,000, according to the report.
Jannecke Wiers-Jenssen, a researcher at the Nordic Institute for studies of Innovation, Research and Education (NIFU), tied the increase in foreign students in Norway to specific efforts and programs aimed at attracting more students from abroad. The efforts include more degree programs offered in English, for example.
Norway saw a big jump in overseas enrollment, however, when colleges and universities in Denmark and Sweden began charging tuition fees to students from outside the European Union. Norway did not introduce mandatory tuition fees, either for foreign students or its own.
“The increase (in foreign students) must be seen in connection with our neighbouring countries introducing fees,” Wiers-Jenssen said. There have been proposals to charge tuition in Norway as well, but they ultimately didn’t succeed.
Arne Hauge, a senior adviser at SIU, claimed that international students enrich the academic environment at Norwegian schools. “More and more countries are keen to recruit foreign students, given current or future needs for an educated workforce,” Hauge said.
Norwegian students are also recruited by universities abroad, not least from the United States. The US Embassy in Oslo is currently promoting a “College Day 2015” event to be held at the Oslo high school Handelsgym on March 19. It will feature more than 30 American universities eager to recruit Norwegian students, who can arrange financing of their college education through state grants and subsidized loans.