On education in Europe and the USA

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Universities Student life Around the world Daria Bella Matuznaia

Higher Education in Norway: Why and How?

Norway, a northern country that leaves an indelible impression on those who are not indifferent to the breathtaking, natural scenery. The majestic mountains, waterfalls, green hillsides and glaciers — not to mention the wonderful fjords that stretch miles and miles, providing limitless memorable moments.

But it's not just nature that rivets the attention of many. Norway is a role model for other resource-rich countries, leading the way in new industries with its booming economy, high level of education, and life satisfaction. It is a popular destination for international students, which is no wonder, considering the factors above, as well as the number of world-recognised universities and an abundance of affordable study opportunities.

As an international student, during my visit to Norway, I was similarly curious about the level and costs of higher education, considering all the evident benefits of the country. Therefore, in this article, I would like to expand on the results of my research and cover what I would consider the most interesting options, as well as universities entry requirements and some country peculiarities that should be known before making any decisions about your education.
One of the main factors that attracted international students to Norway, apart from its unique Scandinavian culture, was the fact that the Norwegian government offered free higher education to all students. Unfortunately, from 2022 non-EU/EEA students are required to pay the tuition fees. The good news is that studying in Norway can still be free because some universities offer generous scholarships for a limited number of students, depending on the type of university, degree, program, country of origin and, of course, the students themselves. Moreover, most universities are state-owned or public, meaning that tuition fees are comparatively affordable.

The language barrier also will not be too big of a problem because 1) most people have a very good level of English, even compared to other countries in Europe, 2) Norwegian universities offer more than 200 master's programs taught in English, and many English-taught undergraduate programs. During my weekly stay in Bergen, I haven’t encountered any translation issues while communicating with the locals. Yet, learning Norwegian is still highly recommended, as it would be easier to get around and socialise. It can take up to 3 years and may be a requirement in some universities. To me, aurally Norwegian appeared as a beautiful mixture of English and German, making me wish to acquire at least elementary knowledge in it.
Firstly, let's consider the general Entry Requirements of Norwegian Universities.

Most universities in Norway request completion of secondary education at an advanced level, equivalent to passing the exam at the end of Norwegian upper secondary school. If you have A levels, you should be eligible for entry to a Norwegian university, although there may be special entry requirements for some subjects, particularly in the sciences.

The precise requirements listed by the Norwegian authorities are 5 GCSE passes, of which two must be A' levels. Alternatively, 1 A level plus 2 AS levels may also be sufficient. GCSE passes include A levels, AS levels and GCSEs.

Secondly, let's cover some scholarships available for international students.

Although students from non-EU/EEA countries have to pay tuition fees, scholarships are the best chance for free or partially covered tuition in Norway. It must be noted that the majority of scholarships in Norway are partial, and you might have to finance the rest in some other way. Some of the scholarships for Bachelor students are the Norwegian Business School (which I will discuss below) Bachelors International Scholarship, covering up to 50% of the total tuition fees for students enrolled in Business Administration, Data Science for Business and Digital Business.

Some of the most advantageous scholarships for Master's Students are the BI Presidential Scholarship in BI Norwegian Business School, which is a 100% tuition waiver and a stipend covering up to 70% of the living expenses of science students, and the Erasmus Mundus scholarships, which works with universities across Europe. The expenses that it covers vary depending on the country and degree.

As for students from non-EU/EEA countries, there are specific scholarship programs, including the Education for Sustainable Energy Development (ESED) scholarship program, which offers up to 10,000 dollars per year to students from developing countries in the sustainable energy development field.

Thirdly, despite Norway being such a unique and attractive place to study, you should consider its climate peculiarities. It is no secret that winters in Norway are very cold in some cities more than in others, so in order to choose this country as your destination, you should be cold tolerant and be sure that often rainy or snowy days won't negatively affect your mental or physical health. As for me, although I am not very resistant to low temperatures, I was feeling quite comfortable in my red Canada Goose, even while sailing through the frozen fjords, and every snowflake seemed to be a miracle.

Now, let's discuss a few of the most interesting university options in Norway.

The University of Oslo

It is considered the largest and one of the most prestigious universities in Norway, comprising eight faculties: Theology, Law, Medicine, Humanities, Mathematics and Natural Sciences, Dentistry, Social Sciences, and Education. It offers over 800 courses, all taught in English, with 40 Master's degree programmes also taught in English. It offers extensive, long-term research, allowing interdisciplinary initiatives and international collaborations directed at finding solutions with significant value to society. Its study abroad options are also quite broad, varying from top-tier universities in other Scandinavian countries to the USA and even Japan for some programs.

Furthermore, it has a beautiful location. The University campus buildings are spread around Oslo, but the original campus is the heart of the city, next to the royal palace and parliament. The University of Oslo offers not just a great education but an unforgettable outdoor experience. Its close proximity to forested hills offers views of Oslo Fjord. City parks, forests, cycling and walking routes, skiing and hiking are also within easy reach. UiO even has its own museum of cultural history, housing three Viking ships, including the best preserved and first-ever excavated.

Considering the tuition fees at the University of Oslo, they are adjusted annually. For 2024/2025, the yearly price varies from 190,000 to 300,000 NOK. For detailed information about any possible scholarships, contact the university directly.

The University of Bergen

Another prestigious and internationally recognised university in Norway. It is intricately woven into the geographical, historical and cultural framework of one of the most beautiful cities in Europe. On the campus, there are libraries, cosy cafes, as well as various clubs for interest. A special interest of students is a museum belonging to the university, which exhibits the field of anthropology, archaeology, art and culture history, botany, geology and zoology. It is the university that inspired me to research Norwegian higher education. Having walked all over the city of Bergen, I accidentally came across the department of Politics - my speciality. Consequently, I wondered what student life is like here in Bergen, and Norway in general.

Considering the education provided by the University of Bergen, it has over 25 master's programmes taught in English within several fields, such as humanities and aesthetic studies, medicine, natural sciences and technical subjects, social sciences and psychology. Moreover, it owns modern scientific equipment, well-established infrastructure, databases, records, archives and collections, which allow for effective scientific research.

Students can conduct research in three areas: marine research, the study of climate change, and global problems. Within these areas, the University of Bergen actively contributes to improving the quality of education, as well as interdisciplinary cooperation.

UiB also provides extracurricular innovation possibilities and support schemes, which allow its students to learn more about entrepreneurship and innovations. For instance, courses such as CET201 Sustainable Innovation, an interdisciplinary innovation course and MCB201 Introduction to Innovation and Entrepreneurship, are open to all students.

The Norwegian Business School

It is one of the top private universities in Norway, made its place on this list for its variety of programs in English and an abundance of fantastic scholarship opportunities mentioned above. It has three of the most important international accreditations: EQUIS, AACSB, and AMBA and it is among the top 50 business schools in Europe.

Its campus is international and diverse, representing over 100 nationalities, making it a melting pot of cultures and enabling its students to meet people from all over the world. Furthermore, it has partner institutions on every continent, which means there are wide possibilities for studying abroad. It also has campuses in Oslo, Bergen, Stavanger, and Trondheim, allowing you to choose the most convenient city for your studies.

The University of Trømso

The Arctic University of Norway, it is probably the most original option in this list. It is the northernmost university in the world, offering a number of courses and opportunities rarely offered anywhere else. Its location on the edge of the Arctic implies a mission to protect it. Climate change, the exploitation of Arctic resources and environmental threats are topics that are taken very seriously by the University of Trømso. Therefore, it allows its students to explore global issues from a close-up perspective.

Its main teaching fields are scientific fields, including polar environment, climate research, telemedicine, medical biology and fishery science. However, it also offers more general subjects, such as sports, economics, law and fine arts. UiT is one of just a few universities in the world that offer courses in Indigenous Studies. Units look at the culture, language, law and history of the local Sami people and other indigenous peoples around the world. Its main campus, famous for its ancient wooden buildings, is located in Trømso, yet there are smaller campuses in Alta, Narvik and Harstad. Its location differs the University of Trømso from any other university with its unique climate features. During the summer solstice, UiT sees 24 hours of daylight, while during winter, the long days are replaced by long nights adorned by the Aurora Borealis.

Just to summarise, studying in Norway is not just an advantageous option in terms of a variety of scholarships provided by the Norwegian universities, but also because of the natural features of this country, rich Scandinavian culture and unique opportunities that cannot be found anywhere else. Choose what suits you the most, contact universities for more information and on the way to new adventures!