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How many international students choose Norway for their studies?

Several factors, such as no tuition fees at public universities for some students, make Norway an attractive proposition for prospective students. Figures have revealed how many come to Norway for their education.

Pictured is notes being taken in a library.
Here's how many foreign students are studying in Norway. Pictured is notes being taken in a library. Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

A high quality of life and free tuition at public universities for most students means Norway is a great place to live and study.

The attractiveness of Norway as a study destination may fade in the coming years as students from outside the EEA and Switzerland will have to pay tuition from the autumn term of 2023.

However, that hasn’t stopped large numbers of students from choosing Norway to live in alongside their studies, according to figures from the Norwegian Directorate of Immigration (UDI).

Just under 11,000 people registered in Norway as studying under the EEA registration scheme or were granted an education permit for those from outside the EEA.

Slightly more non-EEA nationals came to Norway for education purposes than those using the EEA registration scheme. However, when only including students and post-doc candidates, the number of education permits dropped to just over 4,000.

Students from the Philippines, China and the USA were the largest group of nationals to be granted permits. Nearly twice as many Filipinos were granted study permits than those from the US or China. Nationals from Pakistan and Iran were the next largest groups to be given permits for education permits.

In 2022, around 92 percent of applications for a residence permit for educational purposes were granted.

When it came to EEA nationals, German, French and Italian citizens were the biggest groups to register a move to Norway for education purposes. Some 1,556 Germans registered in Norway for education purposes, and around half of Germans who moved to Norway in 2022 did so for their studies.

Those from the Netherlands and Belgium were the next largest groups to come to Norway for tuition. In both cases, more nationals from these countries came to Norway to study than they did for any other reason, such as work or to be with family.

While non-EEA students will be required to pay tuition in Norway, the rules for those from within the EEA remain the same- allowing them to study for free at public universities.

The number of those coming to Norway to study from outside the EEA increased between 2021 and 2022. However, these numbers are likely to go down again due to the tuition rules.

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For members


Norwegian work permits: What happens if your qualifications don’t match the job?

Many wishing to move to Norway for work must hold a residence permit for skilled workers. So what happens if your qualifications don't exactly line up with your job offer? 

Norwegian work permits: What happens if your qualifications don't match the job?

High wages and a good work-life balance make Norway an attractive place to live and work. However, you can’t just stick and take the first job offer that comes your way. 

Instead, you will likely need to meet several requirements. These criteria are the loosest for EEA-nationals as they have the freedom of movement across the Schengen Area. 

Those from the EEA simply have to register they are living and working in Norway if they plan on spending more than three months in the country. 

EEA nationals need to have a job and a contract they can present when registering with the authorities. They can hold more than one job and there are no restrictions on qualifications. 

Moving to Norway for work as a non-EEA resident is much more complicated. To get a residence permit based on work, you will usually need to classify as a “skilled worker”, and you will have to pay a hefty application fee of 6,300 kroner.

This means you will need to have completed either higher education, for example, a bachelor’s or master’s degree, or completed at least three years of vocational training at the upper secondary school level. 

However, having an education and a job offer isn’t enough. Your educational background will need to be relevant to your job role. 

If it isn’t, the Norwegian Directorate of Immigration (UDI) will turn down your application. This applies even when the UDI has given you permission to start work before your application is fully processed. 

Even if you have previous experience in the role or industry you will be working with, your application will still be rejected if your qualifications don’t align with the job. 

This also applies if you are changing jobs. If you are going to start a new type of position or job role, then you will need to reapply for a work permit. When reapplying for a work permit, you must meet all the requirements again. 

This rules out sudden career changes as your qualifications may not be matched to the direction you wish to take your career in. 

If you are going to move to a new job with a different company and the same position, you will not need to apply for a different residence permit, and you can continue working on the one you have. 

Are there any ways around this? 

In some exceptional cases, applicants can prove that they have gained special skills through “long professional experience”. However, as this is quite vague, it can be hard to say what constitutes special skills or long professional experience. 

If the job you have is in the tourism and hospitality sector, you can apply for a seasonal worker permit. Your employer will be required to illustrate why a Norwegian cannot do the job, such as possessing vital expertise or language skills. However, these permits are only valid for six months, so they are only temporary solutions. 

If you have a Norwegian spouse or partner you have lived with for more than two years, you can apply for a family immigration residence permit. The fee for family immigration is 10,500 kroner for a first-time application, and the Norwegian partner needs to show that they have an income of at least 300,988 kroner per year pre-tax. 

The same applies if your partner isn’t Norwegian but is a residence holder of Norway. 

If your partner is an EEA-national, you can also apply as the family member of an EEA-national, which doesn’t come with much in the way of fees and requirements. 

When moving to Norway as a family member, there are no restrictions on your qualifications – giving you complete career freedom. 

What else do I need to know? 

When applying for a skilled worker permit, there are a number of other requirements to meet. The job offer will need to be for a company based in Norway, and you will need to be offered a contract of 80 percent of full-time hours or more. 

Pay and working conditions must be “normal” for Norway. This means you need to earn as much as the collective agreement for the industry in which you work. If your industry does not have a collective agreement, you need to earn at least 417,900 kroner a year pre-tax for jobs requiring a bachelor’s degree and at least 449,900 kroner per year pre-tax for jobs requiring a master’s degree.