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EXPLAINED: What you need to know about studying in Norway

Pictured is somebody studying.
This is what you should know about studying in Norway. Pictured is somebody taking notes. Photo by Green Chameleon on Unsplash
Norway is a top destination for international students. If you're thinking of applying to a university in Norway, read on to better understand what to expect both on and off campus.

What is Faddderuke?

Fadderuke, or “sponsorship week”, is a week at the beginning of the school year where most universities in Norway welcome new students with a host of activities.

The sponsored events are centred around helping students learn about all that is offered on campus. It is also a time to let loose and party with the people you will be studying with. The social events that happen during fadderuke are not mandatory. But they are highly recommended if you are looking to make some new friends and want to become more familiar with the surrounding areas around campus. 

“I knew absolutely nothing about Norway before I arrived. Not even about the mountains and nature. I arrived in high heels,” laughs Alena Bakkan, who grew up in Russia. “So there was a lot of culture shock. But I remember nature being crazy beautiful, and everything was so small and cosy,” she adds.

The studies

When you apply to study at a university in Norway, you’re typically allowed to choose up to six different bachelor programs, with your first choice being at the top of the list. If you’re planning on applying for your masters, you need to apply for each specific program individually. 

Higher education is highly respected in this country. Though there are a few foreigners who believe the level of study offered at Norwegian universities were easier to complete than similar courses taught in their homeland. 

“Norway is more independent. There was more group work and presentations, but it was way easier. My first mathematics class I took here I quickly realised I had learned this already in middle school,” says Tiffany Zhang from China. 

Lisa Husanovic, a former student who grew up in Malaysia, agrees, saying, “In Malaysia, the studies are much more difficult than in Norway. It’s much more relaxed here.” 

While 57% of all higher education graduates are female in Norway, you may notice some programs are more heavily dominated by one gender. “In Norway, many-male dominated vocational education is taught at upper-secondary level, while women-dominated education such as in the health care system are primarily at university and college level,” states Statistics Norway in an OECD report.

Classes and lectures are relatively informal gatherings. Professors are called by their first names. And both faculty and students dress in more casual wear while on campus.  

Student housing

As a student, you can live where you choose. However, the more prominent universities offer student housing options close to campus and sprinkled around the city. Many foreigners and native Norwegian students apply for and receive a housing allowance which is government-funded and supported by the Norwegian State Housing Bank or Husbanken and municipalities. 

Your university’s home page should have more specific information about applying for student housing if you are interested. And the government funding might be enough to cover your rental costs. However, many higher education students in Norway choose to work a part-time job alongside their studies. 

Many students also prefer to live in a collective. Depending on how many other roommates you choose to have, collectives are usually set up so everyone gets their own bedroom and shares common living spaces such as the kitchen, living room, and bathroom. 

Living in a collective will, on average, cost you from 4000–7000 kroner (or 387 euro – 678 euro) per month.

As a student, you might want to be aware of the Vorspiel/Nachspiel

Norwegians love a good party—especially Norwegian students. Norway has integrated two ways into their culture to ensure good times last as long as possible. A Vorspiel, or “pre-party”, is a gathering that leads up to the planned event, and a Nachspiel is the “after-party” of the main event.

The two often happen spontaneously or with little planning beforehand. When talked about, they are often abbreviated, so if anyone asks you if you’re going to the vors, they’re referring to the pre-party. While drinking is perhaps the centre of these types of gatherings, it’s up to you. Many students don’t drink, but still attend these parties to be with their friends. 

Do I need to know Norwegian to study in Norway?

Luckily, many bachelor and master programmes are offered in English in Norway. As a result, and due to the general population’s high knowledge of the English language, it is not necessary to learn Norwegian alongside studying. 

Not necessary, but it is recommended. Locals are very appreciative when international students make an effort to learn their native language. In addition, learning Norwegian is a great way to feel more comfortable conversing and getting around town. It will open up doors, and greatly help extend your social circle during your stay. 

Look at your chosen university(s) webpage for a detailed list of higher education programmes offered in English. 

Useful information to know before applying

If you consider applying to a higher education program in Norway, here are a few tips to remember.

Each institution handles applications and admissions to higher education in Norway. Different institutions may have different requirements and deadlines. So double-check the university’s website to see their prerequisites. 

While public universities offer tuition-free education, there are costs to obtaining a study permit. The application fee for a study permit for students over the age of 18 is 4.900 kroner, according to the UDI. Note that you will be asked to prove you have enough money in your account to live on, and you must reapply every year if your study programme lasts longer than 12 months. 

Studying abroad can be one of the most eye-opening experiences in your life. It is what you make of it. Though if you look to the past for guidance, Scandinavia, especially Norway, has proven to be a solid choice for students who choose to study there.

“Scandinavian universities maintain their reputation of high student satisfaction characterised by offering solid and high-quality education to their students,” StudyPortals wrote in a press release in 2016.

The University of Oslo is rated number one in overall student satisfaction. “The availability of many courses in English accessible for exchange students was considered a very positive aspect within Scandinavian countries. Furthermore, the friendly and helpful fellow students, skilled professors and the diverse landscape were a definite plus for international students.”


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