Education;Immigration and immigrants

Credits and graduations from higher education2017/2018


About the statistics


Name and topic

Name: Credits and graduations from higher education
Topic: Education

Responsible division

Division for Education and Culture Statistics

Definitions of the main concepts and variables

Completed education: A student is considered to have completed an education when the educational institution has issued a diploma or somehow approved that he/she has fulfilled the requirements for completing the education in question.

Credits points: Students are awarded with credits when they have met the requirements for passing a course.

Ordinary students: Ordinary students are students who are not on “continuing education.”

Continuing education: By “continuing education” we mean shorter courses that do not provide formal competence, in addition to courses/subjects that do provide formal qualifications and credits, but which often is a specialization/supplement to a basic education.

Full/part-time students: A student is considered to be a full-time student if the percentage of planned study progression reported in the fall semester is over 70 per cent. If the percentage of planned study progression is below 70 per cent, the student is considered to be part-time.

Academic year: A full academic year corresponds to 60 credits at universities and colleges in Norway.

Highest educational attainment of parents: Parental educational attainment is divided into four categories: (1) Primary and lower secondary education, (2) Upper secondary education, (3) Higher education, short (at least two years, but also 4 years or less), and (4) Higher education, long (more than four years). Parental educational attainment is defined by that of the parents with the highest level of education. For example, if the parental educational attainment of a student is “(3) Higher education, short,” it implies that at least one of the parents has education at this level. Cases where there is no information on the level of education of any of the parents falls into the “Unspecified” group. See also the definitions of educational level.

Educational activity: According to the Norwegian Standard Classification of Education (NUS2000). Programmes are classified according to their level and field of study.

Type of institution: According to the Standard Industrial Classification of 2007. The institutions are classified as Universities, Specialized University Institutions, and University Colleges, where University Colleges are again divided into three main groups: State University Colleges, Military Colleges and “other university colleges.”

Ownership: Educational institutions are classified as either public or private.

Immigrants: Persons born abroad of two foreign-born parents and four foreign-born grandparents.

Norwegian-born to immigrant parents: Persons who are born in Norway of two parents born abroad, and in addition have four grandparents born abroad.

Age: Estimated as of December 31. 

Standard classifications

Educational activities are grouped by the Norwegian Standard Classification of Education which was established in 1970 by Statistics Norway and later revised in 1973, 1989 and 2000. Educational institutions are classified as being higher education by the Standard Industrial Classification.

For international purposes, the ISCED 2011 is used (International Standard Classification of Education).

Administrative information

Regional level

Figures are presented at national level, at municipal level and by educational institution. Data on enrolment in higher education include information that makes it possible to provide figures at other regional levels.

Frequency and timeliness

Figures are published annually in March. As of 2015 data on credit points was merged with data on graduations from universities and colleges. Prior to 2015 data on credit points was published separately.

International reporting

The data is provided for UNESCO, OECD and Eurostat (U-O-E).


Statistics Norway stores all data in a proper, standardised manner in consultation with the Norwegian Data Protection Authority.

Statistics Norway can deliver supplementary data and tables related to these statistics. To order supplementary data and tables, please contact Statistics Norway: oppdragutdanning@ssb.no. The price will depend on the size of the order.


Background and purpose

There is a high demand for the collection of official statistics on education. Official education statistics are individually based and document the educational activities of all Norwegian residents from completion of lower secondary school to completion of all higher education including doctoral/PhD studies.

Norway’s education statistics went through a structural readjustment in the beginning of the 1970’s. All statistics on higher education were previously available through a census. The data is now individually based, where all educational activities are attached to each individual’s personal ID-number. The data is contained in the National Education Database (NUDB), in a format that allows the production of different kinds of education statistics and alignment with other types of individually based statistics where necessary (e.g. income, social-welfare).

The purpose of the statistics is to present individually based statistics of graduates and attained credit points in higher education in Norway.

Users and applications

Important users of the education statistics are the Ministry of Education and Research, public administration, researchers, special interest organisations, international organisations (Eurostat, OECD and UNESCO), media, business and industry. In addition, data is used internally in Statistics Norway in publications and in assignments.

Equal treatment of users

No external users have access to the statistics and analyses before they are published and accessible simultaneously for all users on ssb.no at 8:00 AM. Prior to this, a minimum of three months’ advance notice is given in the Statistics Release Calendar. This is one of Statistics Norway’s key principles for ensuring that all users are treated equally

Coherence with other statistics

Data from higher education is combined with data from lower- and upper secondary education when revision processes are complete. Data is then stored as single annual files in the National Education Database (NUDB). Statistics Norway uses a similar system for all individually based statistics, making it easy to combine education statistics with other statistics. Labour market statistics, health statistics, living conditions statistics and income and wage statistics are examples of other individually based statistics compiled by Statistics Norway.

Legal authority

The Statistics Act, sections 2-1, 2-2 and 3-2.

EEA reference

Commission Regulation (EU) No 88/2011 of 2 February 2011 implementing Regulation (EC) No 452/2008 of the European Parliament and of the Council concerning the production and development of statistics on education and lifelong learning, as regards statistics on education and training systems.



The statistics on graduations and credits from higher education institutions include all completed degrees and credits attained during the period 1 October-30 September. Completed degrees and credits attained from abroad are not included.

Only educational institutions classified by the Standard Industrial Classification as a higher education institution are included.

Universities: Nord University, Norwegian University of Life Sciences, OsloMet – Oslo Metropolitan University (formerly known as Oslo and Akershus University College of Applied Sciences), Norwegian University of Science and Technology, University of Agder, University of Bergen, University of Oslo, University of South-Eastern Norway, University of Stavanger, and UiT The Arctic University of Norway.

Specialised University Institutions:BI – Norwegian Business School, MF Norwegian School of Theology, Religion and Society, Molde University College – Specialized University in Logistics, NHH – Norwegian School of Economics, Norwegian Academy of Music, Oslo National Academy of the Arts, Norwegian School of Sport Sciences, Oslo School of Architecture and Design, and VID Specialized University.

University Colleges are grouped into: State University Colleges, Military University Colleges and “other university colleges.” State University College is a term derived from the reform of 1994 in colleges in Norway, which resulted in the consolidation of 98 smaller state colleges into 26 larger units.

In recent years, a number of institutions in higher education has been merged into larger units, see changes in educational institutions (in Norwegian).

As some University Colleges were merged in 2016 into larger units, there was a decrease in the number of students in University Colleges, as well as a corresponding increase in the number of students in Universities and in Specialized University Institutions.

Data sources and sampling

Pursuant to the Statistical Act, Statistics Norway collects data on attained credit points and graduations from Database for Statistics on Higher Education (DBH) and the administrative systems of various higher education institutions. Information on completed doctoral degrees/PhD is included.

Surveys are not employed to collect education statistics.

Collection of data, editing and estimations

Data collection: Pursuant to the Statistical Act (June 1989, No.54), Statistics Norway collects student data from Database for Statistics on Higher Education (DBH) and the administrative systems of various higher educational institutions.

Editing: Editing includes both control and revision and is performed on all educational data collected. It encompasses deletion of duplicate records, a control for correct and valid values for each variable, comparisons with last year’s data and checks for missing information. Several variables are re-coded to comply with control programs run by Statistics Norway. Personal ID-numbers are referenced against Statistics Norway’s population database to check for errors. At last, duplicate students are deleted, which implies that a student can only be counted once although the student may be registered for several educational activities or educational institutions at the same time.

Estimation: No estimation is performed. The statistics are based data obtained from university and college databases.

Seasonal adjustment

Not relevant


Data is not released where there are less than three units within a single cell in a table if there is a risk of identification, i.e. the data can be traced back to an identifiable person.

Comparability over time and space

Individually based data on completed education has been published annually since it was first collected in the academic year 1973/74. Most variables are comparable, but some have changed. The Norwegian Standard Classification of Education (NUS2000) has been revised to secure comparability over time. While educational variables are reasonably comparable over time, other variables, e.g. various institution types, cannot be re-coded and thus not comparable over time. Credit point variables are complete from the academic year 2004/05 onwards.

Accuracy and reliability

Sources of error and uncertainty

Statistical investigations may encounter various sources of error. The errors can occur either during data collection (in this case, during registration at the higher education institution) or during data processing (control and revision processes performed by Statistics Norway).

Overestimation of student numbers could occur for universities where registration occurs with payment of registration fees rather than enrolment in subjects. An overestimation of student numbers leads to an overestimation of the proportion of students who do not complete any credit points during the academic year. Students themselves can also provide inaccurate information to the registers.

Inaccuracies in graduation statistics may occur when administrative registers wrongly define a student as meeting the requirements for completing a degree. In some cases, the diploma could be issued later than the actual time of completion, which leads to the degree being registered at an inaccurate time.

Regarding the registration of credit points, there may be cases of institutions or study programs where credits are only registered when the entire program is completed. In this case, a student could be registered with zero credits in the first years and registered with total credits (for example 180 credits) in the last year.


See general principles for revisions in Statistics Norway.