Students choose the ‘right’ majors

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There’s been a shift in college-bound Norwegians’ major course of studies this year, in what’s believed to be a reflection of where graduates may be most likely to find good jobs.

Applications to bachelor degree programs in engineering and technical programs declined slightly, at a time of cutbacks in the oil industry. They soared, meanwhile, for programs in health care and teaching, where jobs are abundant and likely to remain so.

Double-digit increase within health care
Fresh statistics from the state agency that coordinates applications to Norwegian colleges and universities (Samordna opptak) show that the total numbers of students wanting to study nursing or otherwise work within the health care sector rose by 10 percent, while those applying to become teachers were up 8 percent.

Those wanting to major in realfag (the natural sciences and mathematics) rose by 11 percent but applications to bachelor degree programs in engineering were down more than 2 percent after years of increases. Applications to master’s degree programs in engineering were stable.

Leaders delighted
“It’s good that the staff reductions in the oil sector haven’t scared youth away,” Eirik Kommedal, leader of Norway’s association for students majoring in science and technology (Tekna Student), told newspaper Aftenposten. He agreed with Kristin Skogen Lund, head of national employers organization NHO, that competence within engineering will still be “play an important role” in Norway’s future.

Education and business leaders like Lund were delighted by the numbers, not least since state statistics bureau SSB has predicted that Norway faces a lack of 35,000 health care workers with higher education, 40,000 teachers and, despite the oil industry downturn, 3,000 engineers in the years ahead.

Economics and business studies remained the most popular, which Norway’s leading business school NHH in Bergen receiving 4,750 applications and taking in 2,117 new students, up 5.6 percent from last year. The next most popular studies were law at the University of Oslo, followed by applicants to the state Police Academy in Oslo and law school at the University of Bergen.

Media studies no longer popular
Applications for nursing studies at the Oslo and Akershus University College of Applied Sciences (Høgskolen i Oslo og Akershus, HiOA) jumped 12 percent, making it the fifth most popular study program in the country this year. HiOA’s one-year program in economics and leadership was the toughest to get into, meanwhile, with nearly 20 applicants for each spot in the program.

Media studies logged the biggest decline, with applications down 5 percent from last year. It was the third year in a row that interest declined, a reflection of cutbacks in the news business and poor prospects for permanent full-time jobs as reporters and editors.

newsinenglish.no/Nina Berglund