Reports 2015/50

Student life and economic conditions

Norwegian results from Eurostudent V in a European perspective

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This report presents Norwegian findings from the student survey Eurostudent V, drawing on comparisons with other countries. Eurostudent focuses on the social dimension of higher education and aims at collecting comparable data on the social and economic conditions for students in Europe. The survey was carried out in 2013 in 29 participating countries, and international data tables are available online at

Who are the students and what they are studying?

Norway and other Nordic countries have a particularly high proportion of students over 30 years, of which a majority is part-time students. More than 60 percent of the students in Norway are female. Eurostudent confirms that men and women's study choices in higher education are still fairly traditional, with clear gender differences across different disciplines.

Compared to other European countries, there are few students in Norway in the field of “(natural) science”. Recruiting students to science studies is highlighted in the “OECD Skills Strategy Diagnostic Report Norway” as a challenge in view of the society’s future skills needs.

Transition to higher education

Barely four percent of students in Norway made use of prior learning assessment as an alternative pathway into higher education, and five percent have used a specific pathway for those with prior vocational qualification and experience (“Y-veien”).

The Nordic countries differ from other countries in having a particularly long average transition time between leaving school and entering tertiary education for the first time. In Norway, 40 percent had a gap of more than two years, compared to around or below 10 percent in most Eurostudent countries. This Nordic trait is found in all age groups. Almost half of Norwegian students report having had the experience of regular work before they entered tertiary education for the first time.

Time spent on studies and work

Students in Norway who are not staying at home with their parents, spend on average around 29 hours per week studying; 12 hours of taught studies and 17 hours of personal study time.

Both at Bachelor and Master level, students in Norway spend about as much time studying as students in the other Nordic countries - as well as most other countries that participate in Eurostudent.

In Norway, 52 percent of students not living with parents had paid work during the whole semester in 2013, compared with 30 percent of students in Finland and Sweden. However, in the latter two countries, and many other European countries, it is more common that students only work from time to time. Eurostudent shows that working up to 10 hours a week does not seem to result in less time being spent on studies, both in Norway and the other Nordic countries. Full-time students in Norway spend an average of nine hours a week on paid employment. This is close to the threshold where time spent working translates into less time spent on studies, and nearly half the students in Norway report that they want more time to study.

Total work and study load is fairly equal across disciplines. Students in the fields where they spend the most time on their studies ("engineering, manufacturing, construction” and “(natural) science”) are also those who spend the least time on paid employment and vice versa.

Quality and relevance of education

Around 60 percent of students in Norway state that they are (very) satisfied with the quality of teaching, organization of studies, administration’s service attitude and study facilities; mid-range results compared with other Eurostudent countries.

Students in Norway are more optimistic that in other countries as regards their chances on the domestic labor market after completion of their studies. 73 percent consider their chances of getting a job as (very) good, around 10 percentage points above the level in other Nordic countries and more than twice the percentage found in several Eastern European countries. Norwegian humanities students are however not more optimistic about their job prospects than humanities students in many other countries in the survey.

Students' economy and living situation

The income level (not adjusted for purchasing power) among students in Norway is higher than in other countries. When controlling for other background factors (such as age and part-time), we find no statistically significant differences in total income linked to parental education or gender.

Public student loans and grants make up a larger share of income for students in the Nordic countries than elsewhere in Europe. Norway is the country where the highest share of students is recipients of public grants or loans. In addition, this public student support is of greater importance to the total income of recipients in Norway than recipients in other countries. Income from family and transfers in kind is of more limited importance (20 percent of total income) to students not living with parents in the Nordic countries, while in almost half of the Eurostudent countries such family support constitutes more than 50 percent of the total income of students not living with parents.

Although income levels are high in Norway, 1 in 5 students not living with their parents report feeling to a very large extent that they have insufficient money. Housing costs for students not living with parents may seem high in Norway compared with other countries. However, housing constitutes a lower percentage of students' overall expenses than in the Nordic neighboring countries.

Students in the Nordic countries move away from home early compared with students in other European countries. Only 1 in 5 students in Norway under the age of 22 still live with their parents. 15 percent of all students in Norway live in student accommodation, lower than in Finland (32 percent) and Sweden (28 percent).

Student Mobility

Students in the Nordic countries have studied abroad to a greater extent than students from the other countries surveyed, but still most students have not been mobile. Women, students in their 20s, humanities students and students with highly educated parents are on average more mobile than other students. Unlike mobile students in most other countries, who mainly rely on EU grants and EU mobility programmes, Norwegian students travel abroad through other agreements / program and finance the stay mainly through support from the Norwegian State Educational Loan Fund.


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