Students choose Norway for quality and safety

The fact that Norway is a peaceful and safe society is a major factor for foreign students who come here, according to a new survey from SIU.

The Norwegian Centre for International Cooperation in Higher Education (SIU) has completed its fourth reputation survey amongst international students in Norway. The number of foreign nationals studying at Norwegian educational institutions has increased by 57% in the last five years from around 12,000 in 2009 to around 19,000 in 2014.

Satisfactory teaching
Three in four students responding to the survey had Norway as their first-choice study destination. The respondents said a key factor was the fact that Norway is a peaceful and safe society – almost 70% of respondents ranked this as an important or very important reason for choosing Norway as their place of study. It wasthe most important factor for students from China, India and Russia.

Once again the reputation survey concludes that Norway is an attractive destination for international students. “In addition to the general qualities of Norwegian society, we are also pleased to see that the quality of the tuition has an impact on the students' choices,” says Kristin Solheim, head of SIU's communications department.

The high number and wide range of English-taught study programmes are obviously important to this group. The survey found that 70% of students are satisfied with their lecturers' ability to deliver tuition in the English language. More than half of the students also said that Norway's good reputation in the field of education was an important factor when choosing a place to study.

“Norwegian institutions have been working systematically for many years to be able to provide good tuition to international students,” says Solheim.

Many students want to work in Norway
More than half of the respondents, and 70% of those who study for a full degree in Norway, say they are considering staying in Norway after completing their studies. The main motivation amongst the majority who wish to stay on (61%) is the Norwegian labour market, with good career opportunities and high wages being the main draws.Around half (51%) took Norwegian language classes during their studies in Norway.

57% of the students who completed the survey found the high living costs in Norway more challenging than expected.54% say that getting to know Norwegians was more difficult than they had expected.

The welfare state and petroleum technology
The survey found that the term “welfare state” is familiar to students from all over the world. It also shows that science and technology relating to the exploitation and management of natural resources are attractive to many. Almost 40% of the respondents study such subjects.

“I came here because Norway has the best petroleum technology in the world,” says a female Russian degree student.

“I wanted to experience the Norwegian welfare state model in order to compare it with my own country,” says a male French exchange student.

Download the final report here.


  • Conducted in spring 2014, this year's survey includes full degree students and exchange students at Norwegian educational institutions.
  • The survey questionnaire was distributed to 8,022 students at Norwegian universities and colleges of higher education.
  • 3,216 students from 34 different institutions responded – a response rate of around 40%.
  • 65% of the respondents came from Europe, and the largest numbers came from Germany (327), France (239) and Russia (167).
  • The survey aims to chart Norway's reputation as a country of study and to provide more information about why international students choose to study in Norway.
  • The survey was also carried out in 2008, 2010 and 2012.

 “The vast majority of international students in Norway are fortunately satisfied with their studies in Norway,” says Kristin Solheim, head of SIU's communications department. Photo: Paul Sigve Amundsen