Free education for international students, stunning Nordic scenery and high levels of student satisfaction: sounds good, right? So, why aren’t more international students heading to Norway?
A government-commissioned report by the Ministry of Education and Research, the Norwegian Centre for International Cooperation in Education (SIU) has found the country struggles with retaining international students’ interest while they cope with the demands of applications.
As a solution, the report proposes the government should introduce a cohesive national admissions system for international students University World News reported.
The SUI argued in the report there are a “high number of applications from international students”, however retaining them is the problem.
“Most of the institutions we have spoken to find the handling of the many applications very demanding,” SIU reported.
“Furthermore, we see that Norwegian higher education institutions have problems maintaining the applicants’ interest throughout the application process. It is evident from our interviews with the institutions that Norway should prepare better to manage the interest in Norway as a study destination.”
In 2014-17, international graduate students accounted for just 3.24 percent of the total student population. And the number is dropping.
Between 2015 and 2017, the report saw a 13 percent drop in international students enrolled in Norwegian higher education institutions, with six in every 10 students coming from outside the European Union or European Economic Area (EU/EEA).
Considering the report claimed the current admissions system highly favours students inside the EU and EEA, the lack of students from this area is both perplexing and concerning for Norway.
“If the government wishes to assist the institutions in recruiting more European students, there is a need for concrete measures,” stated the report.
Currently, each institution is responsible for its own student recruitment but the report proposes a national system for dealing with the applications.
The government has had a long-term objective since 2014 to “attract the most talented students in the world”. Yet last year the country was still struggling, and this recent report illustrates the improvements have not been made.
Back in 2017, a government white paper reported a large number of students had requested for an increase in the number of programmes – particularly Master’s courses – taught in English. More courses in English would likely increase the number of students who feel able to study in Norway.
The recent report concludes that the recruitment process needs a more systematic approach to bring more international students to Norway.
“Norwegian educational policy focuses on promoting exchange through institutional cooperation, rather than on recruiting individual students,” the report said.
“At the same time, if international students are to contribute to enhanced quality in Norwegian education, not merely filling available places on a study programme, the lack of political will to form a recruitment policy is problematic.”