Education in Norway

Faculty of Social Sciences in Bergen Norway Photo: Universitys own

In general there is a high level of education in Norway. Figures from 2001 shows that 87% of all people over the age of 16 have completed primary and lower secondary schooling, 56% have completed upper secondary schooling, and 22% have completed higher education programmes.


At the time about 900,000 of Norway’s 4.7 million inhabitants are under education.

Over 500,000 pupils are enrolled in public primary and lower secondary schools in Norway, and in addition there are about 12.000 pupils enrolled in private schools at this level.

This represents the largest enrolment in primary and lower secondary schools ever recorded in Norway. (Numbers from Royal Ministry of Education & Research)


Education Reform

A reform of primary and lower secondary education in Norway came in 1997, introducing compulsory schooling for all children from the year in which they reached six years of age, and primary and lower secondary education was extended to 10 years.

A new national curriculum was also developed in connection with the reform of primary and lower secondary education, which means the municipalities are responsible for the running and administration of primary and lower secondary schools.


Government Support

Old University in Oslo Norway Photo: Mahlum

In 2004 there were approximately 180.000 students enrolled at state institutions of higher education, or in programmes receiving government support at private higher education institutions.

Each year about 15.000 Norwegian students receive support from the Norwegian State Educational Loan Fund to pursue their degrees abroad.

In 2007 there was 13000 Norwegian full time students abroad, and more than 7000 part time students.

5,500 Norwegian students receive support to pursue part of an educational degree abroad, or to participate in international student exchange programmes.


State-Run Institutions

Norway has 38 state-run institutions of higher education and also several private institutions, divided into two sectors: the College sector and the University sector.

The colleges offer programmes lasting from 1 to 4 years. Most programmes are in the College sector are profession-specific, lasting from 1 to 4 years.

In these programmes, graduates becomes professional or para-professional personnel in areas such as engineering, teaching, social work, health services, economics, journalism, etc.


The universities carry out research and offer university-level instruction at undergraduate, graduate and doctorate levels, leading to academic degrees.


Foreign Students

Foreign students are admitted to universities and other institutions of higher education in Norway, and higher education is free for international students as well as for Norwegian nationals.

In 2007 there was 14000 foreign students in Norway within the higher education programs, with a majority in Oslo, Trondheim and Bergen, but also Tromsø and Kristiansand has many foreign students.

Most foreign students in Norway participate through international programmes and agreements with comparable institutions abroad. Except for special programmes and some private and specialised schools, there are no tuition fees charged at any of the Norwegian universities.


See also our information page about getting jobs in Norway.



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