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Scandanavian countries are traditionally strong in higher education, and Norway is no exception. Here's our guide, if studying abroad in mainland Europe's northernmost nation appeals.
Norway is one of the most equal nations of the world in terms of wealth, and also enjoys one of the highest levels of GDP per capita. It is also a world leader in research & development, has four universities in the 2012/13 QS World University Rankings – the University of Oslo (111), University of Bergen (145), the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (289), and the University of Tromso (304).
Known for its stunning natural beauty and winter sports scene, Norway attracts a lot of outdoor enthusiasts.
It's also renowned for contributions to art and culture - it is, after all, the homeland of hugely influential figures such as playwright Henrik Ibsen and painter Edvard Munch - and to innovations in contemporary design and architecture.
If all that appeals but you're worried about losing a digit in the frigid cold, well worry no more. Norway isn't actually as cold as you might imagine. With average winter temperatures rarely dipping below -4C in Oslo, one can venture around comfortably. The wettest month is August.
As one of the first countries to engage in the Bologna Process, which aims to make European higher education systems more compatible, Norway is telling the world it's serious about education and encouraging study abroad.
Norway offers more than 170 master's programs taught in English, and many English-taught undergraduate programs.
Find out more about life in some of Norway’s top student cities...
Norway’s capital has several times earned the dubious honor of being named the world’s most expensive city – most recently in 2012, in a report by Swiss bank UBS. However, this high cost is accompanied by high quality, and Oslo also appears regularly on ‘most liveable’ lists.
Much like the other Nordic capitals, it’s known for being laid-back and user-friendly, but also full of life and culture. The city center is easy to travel around on foot, and offers a good selection of museums, galleries, cafes, music venues and nightlife.
It’s also strikingly easy to access the great outdoors from Oslo – popular pastimes include hiking, watersports, ice-skating and cycling.
Norway’s second-largest city, Bergen is home to the country’s second-highest ranked university. Located on the west coast, it’s a popular base for visitors exploring the country’s famous fjords – long, narrow stretches of water bordered by steep cliffs (this might not sound much, but they really are spectacular).
As well as being ‘The Gateway to the Fjords’, Bergen itself is an attractive coastal city, with its historic harbour area, Bryggen, included on the UNESCO World Heritage list. In terms of culture and nightlife, the selection is bound to be a little more limited – but then, smaller venues often make for a better atmosphere.
Meanwhile the nearby hills and mountains are perfect for hiking in summer, and skiing or sledging in winter.
If you’re really looking for a study destination with a difference, Tromsø could well catch your attention. This relatively small city is mainly located on the island of Tromsøya, close to the northern tip of Norway, and well within the Arctic Circle.
Promoted as the ‘capital of the Arctic’, Tromsø is a popular base for those exploring this region – and yes, you guessed it – there are plenty of fjords and mountains nearby. (Bored of all this natural beauty yet?)
The city is also home to the world’s northernmost university, Tromsø University, ranked within the world’s top 300 in the 2012/13 QS World University Rankings.
Application deadlines for international students are generally between 1 December and 15 March, for courses starting the following August – but there may be some variation between universities.
Unless you are from Iceland, Denmark, Sweden or Finland, you will need a student residence permit if you intend to study in Norway for more than three months. As usual, different rules apply depending on whether you are from a country within the EU/EEA/EFTA or not.
Students from within the EU/EEA/EFTA:
- an application form (available to download from the Study in Norway website)- proof that you’ve been offered a place at a Norwegian university- a passport photo- proof that you have enough funds to support yourself- health insurance, which could be private insurance, or a European Health Insurance Card issued by your own country
Students from outside the EU/EEA/EFTA:
- an application form (available to download from the Study in Norway website)- a copy of your passport- a passport photo- proof that you’ve been offered a place at a Norwegian university- a plan of what you intend to study- details of where you plan to live- proof that you have enough funds to support yourself
The majority of Norwegian universities are publicly funded, and do not usually charge tuition fees, regardless of students’ background.
There is, however, a small ‘semester fee’, of NOK300-600 (US$53-105) each term. A few specialized programs, typically at master’s level, do charge additional tuition fees.
While fees are minimal, the cost of living in Norway is relatively high. If you need financial assistance, there are scholarships available for students from different groups of countries.
For example, the High North Fellowship Program offers grants to students from the US, Canada and Russia who are studying in Northern Norway. The Quota Scheme offers scholarships to students from developing countries and countries in Eastern Europe and Central Asia.
The Erasmus and Erasmus Mundus programs can offer support to European students who want to spend only part of their degree in Norway. For graduate students, funding may also be available from the Research Council of Norway.
To ensure you’re aware of the full range of options that apply to you, consult your university’s student support services.
Those from other Nordic nations are entitled to access Norwegian health services, under the National Insurance Act, without needing a European Health Insurance Card.
Students from other countries within the European Economic Area (EEA) should apply for a (free) European Health Insurance Card from their own country. If not entitled to one, you’ll need to purchase private medical insurance.
Those from outside the EEA who are intending to study in Norway should be eligible to access healthcare under the National Insurance Scheme. If your course is longer than a year, you should automatically be registered; if between three and 12 months, you’ll need to apply via the local authorities. Again, if in doubt, seek guidance from your university’s student support services.
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