The Ministry of Education and Research has the overall responsibility for higher education in Norway. Higher education institutions in Norway are divided in four categories: universities, specialized university institutions, university colleges, and institutions with accredited academic or professional programmes. The system is based on a model which puts both the traditional academic education and the professional education in a single degree system. Both State and private higher education institutions in Norway carry out research and offer programmes leading
to these degrees.
The majority of Norwegian Higher Education institutions are owned by the State and more than ninety per cent of the student population in Norway attend State institutions. With a few exceptions the private sector comprises fairly small institutions.
The public institutions are mainly funded by the State. Private institutions may receive State funding for recognized programmes of study, but they are not automatically entitled to such support. Tuition is free at public institutions; although fees may be imposed for further and special education programmes, studies at private institutions and some programmes for international students. A small fee must be paid to the student welfare organization every semester.
The minimum requirement for admission to higher education is the successful completion of Norwegian upper secondary education with some specified courses. Admission may also be gained by means of other qualifications recognized as being on a par with the general matriculation standard such as work experience. Some fields of study have additional entrance requirements. The Certificate of Upper Secondary Education is based on 13 years of schooling.
All international applicants must meet the same basic admission requirements as Norwegian students. These requirements vary depending on the country in which the applicant has completed his or her primary and secondary education. Applicants must normally have completed at least upper secondary education and fulfill some additional language requirements. Students who apply for graduate degree studies must satisfy requirements regarding previous study at university level.
Lifelong learning and educational opportunities for adults are important principles of Norwegian educational policy. The aim is to provide suitable conditions in order to strengthen the competencies of the adult population. Training takes place in the public educational system, adult education associations, folk high schools, distance education institutions and other private institutions and at the workplace.
The State Educational Loan Fund (Statens lånekasse for utdanning) was established in 1947 to provide financial support for students in the form of loans and grants as part of the policy for equal opportunities to higher education, regardless of social, economic and geographical background. The objective of the policy was also to ensure that the work environment for students is satisfactory, so that they can study effectively. Support is also provided for study abroad.
Norway offers a unique experience for students. Norwegian institutions of higher education welcome applications from qualified students from all over the world.
Internationalization is a priority for all sectors of the Norwegian education system, and universities and university colleges are working to make their routines and facilities suit international students. Nearly 11 000 such students are currently enrolled at Norwegian institutions of higher education.
Higher education institutions are located all over Norway. The major cities have both a university and various university colleges. Therefore there is a wide range of programmes of study available in the humanities, the social sciences and natural sciences; in addition, most of these institutions have their own specialty areas. This means that an international student can combine academic interests with an exciting geographical location.
International students can apply for admission to a variety of undergraduate and graduate degree programmes. European students can come to Norway through established exchange programmes, institutional agreements, or as "free movers", and arrange their stay themselves (type of study, length and financing).
Many Norwegian institutions have bilateral exchange agreements with universities and university colleges in other countries. Most of these agreements mean that a student studies for one or two semesters at the institution in Norway as part of a degree from the home university or college. In addition, there are some exchange programmes on a national level. Depending on where a student is enrolled there is also the possibility of coming to Norway via existing mobility programmes or institutional agreements.
Norway´s official agency for international programmes and measures related to higher education is the Norwegian Centre for International Cooperation in Higher Education (SIU). SIU deals with three different aspects of organizing international educational and research cooperation: programmes, fellowships and auditing arrangements. SIU is the largest international programme office in Norway and manages programmes based on agreements between the Norwegian Association of Higher Education Institutions and several national and international public organizations.
Norway has now introduced bachelor´s, master´s and PhD degrees, generally on a 3 year + 2 year + 3 year model, which superseded the old degrees at the end of 2003.
The academic titles are bachelorgrad, mastergrad or Phd, plus the title that indicates the name of the programme (i.e. "Bachelor i Medievitenskap"). It is important to note that parallel to the new degrees, the old undergraduate degrees were awarded until 2005, and the old graduate degrees were awarded until 2007.
The høgskolekandidat degree is obtained after two years of study. This degree may be built upon to obtain a bachelor´s degree. The degree is offered at state university colleges and a few private higher education institutions.
The bachelor´s degree is awarded by all universities, specialized university institutions, state university colleges and a good number of the other higher education institutions, both private and public. It is obtained after three years of study.
The master´s degree is awarded by the universities and specialized university institutions, several university colleges and some private higher education institutions. The degree is normally obtained after two years of study. An important part of this degree is independent work. In a few subject areas, students enroll for a five-year integrated master´s degree. For purposes of internationalization, some master´s degree courses with instruction in English have been introduced at higher education institutions.
The doctoral degree, Philosophiae Doctor (Phd) is awarded after three years of study following completion of a master´s degree or a six-year professionally oriented degree/ qualification. Doctoral programmes are offered by all university-level institutions, including specialized university institutions and some university colleges. The programme consists of completion of independent research in active collaboration with the academic supervisor(s) and other researchers, an approved set of courses or instruction (at least 30 ECTS credits) including compulsory courses in the philosophy of science and ethics, participation in an active national and international research environment, all this closely linked to the thesis work by the doctoral candidate. An agreement is required for all doctoral candidates which stipulates that the objectives are to ensure completion of the doctoral degree and regulates the rights of the involved parties throughout the degree programme.
National and international joint degrees at all levels of higher education can be awarded in accordance with the Universities and University Colleges Act of 1 April 2005. The regulation requires that there should be a contract which regulates the responsibilities between the partner institutions. Partner institutions must be accredited or have accredited higher education programmes (or have similar national recognition)
There are some exemptions in the degree structure, such as:
General teacher training (4 years), Master´s degree (1 to 1.5 year´s duration), Professionally oriented programmes such as
o medicine (cand. med. 6 years),
o psychology (cand. psychol. 6 years),
o veterinary science (cand. med. vet. 5.5 to 6 years)
o theology (cand. theol. 6 years)
o architecture at Oslo School of Architecture (5.5 years)
For more information, www.studyinnorway.no