Completion rates of pupils in upper secondary education

Updated: 13 June 2022

Next update: Not yet determined

Share of pupils/apprentices who have completed upper secondary education within five/six years
Share of pupils/apprentices who have completed upper secondary education within five/six years
Pupils who started a basic course for the first time in the relevant autumn, and the proportion who have completed with a university and college admissions certificate or vocational qualifications within five/six years
Pupils who started a basic course for the first time in the relevant autumn, and the proportion who have completed with a university and college admissions certificate or vocational qualifications within five/six years1
2015-2021Change in percentage points
TotalShare of pupils who have completed upper secondary education within five/six years2014-2020 - 2015-20212006-2012 - 2015-2021
All education programmes65 25080.40.88.4
Males33 56976.20.58.4
Females31 68184.71.28.4
Programmes for general studies34 92489.40.36.4
Males15 47786.30.37.6
Females19 44791.80.25.3
Vocational education programmes30 32670.01.79.5
Males18 09267.71.18.5
Females12 23473.52.711.1
1Five years after entering one of the education programmes in general studies and six years after entering one of the programmes in vacational studies.
Explanation of symbols

Selected tables and figures from this statistics

About the statistics

The statistics follow pupils starting in upper secondary education for the first time a given autumn and their status for completion a certain time after starting in upper secondary education. We follow pupils starting a general studies programme (normative length of three years), over a period of five years. We follow pupils starting a vocational programme (normative length usually four years, with two years in school and two years in apprenticeship) over a period of six years.

Enrolled pupils: Pupils registered at an educational institution at the 1st October a given year.

Reform 94:

A reform from 1994, giving youth from the age 16 to 19 years old the legalized right to upper secondary education. From 2002, this right was extended to include everyone.

The Knowledge Promotion Reform:

Introduced in 2006, this reform continued the legalized right to upper secondary education. It also introduced a new terminology. Area of study was now called education programme as an example.

Education programme:

A common description of related subjects in upper secondary education. Upper secondary education exists of three courses: Vg1, Vg2 and Vg3.

General fields of study:

Courses are divided into general study programmes and vocational study programmes. General fields of study include courses in Specialization in general studies, Music, dance and drama and Sports and physical education. From 2016, also Media and communication, as well as Arts, design and crafts are included.

Pupils at vocational fields of study can also obtain a university and college admissions certificate by completing a vg3 additional courses to obtain such a certificate.

Vocational fields of study: Vocational fields of study include courses in Building and construction, Design, arts and crafts, Electricity and electronics, Healthcare, childhood and youth development, Media and communication, Agriculture, fishing and forestry, Restaurant and food, Service and transport and Technical and industrial production.

In the autumn of 2016, Media and communication a general field of study. Pupils starting Media and communication in the autumn of 2015 or earlier, follow the old programme.

Alternative education program: Pupils in alternative curriculum. Alternative education programmes cannot be specified prior to 2006.

Completed education: A pupil is considered to have completed their education with a university and college admissions certificate or vocational qualification if he/she is registered with passed Vg3/vocational certificate and/or registered with a certificate in the National Results Database. Those taking courses at a higher education institution are also treated as “completed upper secondary education”.

Drop-out: refers to a pupil who dropped out before or within final year.

Normative length of study: Normative length of study is the period to complete upper secondary education within the course requirements for full-time pupils. Normally, this is three years for general programmes and four years for vocational programmes (two years in school and two years of apprenticeship). However, some programmes have two and a half or three years of apprenticeship combined with two years in school. Moreover, some programmes have three years in school and two years of apprenticeship (especially within Electricity and electronics, but also Building and construction). To take into account variations in the normative length, we use normative length as specified in the VIGO code database.

Beyond normative length of study: Completion beyond normative length of study is when a pupil/apprentice uses more time than what is normative (see above), but within the time horizon for the tables published here.

School county: County of school.

Social background: Is based on parent's educational level. The parent with the highest educational level defines the social background of the pupil.

Country of birth, citizenship and country of origin: These variables are classified according to Statistics Norway's' country codes.

Immigrants are persons born abroad of two foreign-born parents and four foreign-born grandparents.

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

Lower secondary school points: Lower secondary school points sum up the pupils’ results in different subjects and form the basis of entrance/intake in upper secondary education. Including school year 2005/2006, the lower secondary school points were calculated by adding up the numerical value of eleven grades of subjects. From 2007 lower secondary school points are calculated by adding up the numerical value of the grades, dividing on the number of grades and multiplying by 10. The exception is when the participant has less than eight grades. In such cases, lower secondary school points are not calculated and are classified as missing.

The total competence achieved by the end of the course is ranged by the type of competence. Trade certificates are prioritized, followed by other vocational qualifications and university and college admissions certifications. Double competence is not included.

Basic competence is competence on a lower level than a full vocational qualification or university and college admissions certification. Basic competence is documented in the form of a training certificate and may be planned or unplanned. The pupil or training candidate receives training that is based around those subjects, or parts of subjects, that she or he is able to master.

Pupils heading for such planned basic competence have to:

  1. Attend upper secondary education at least 3 years during the five year period
  2. Successfully complete the individual training programme

Pupils heading for planned basic competence and have decision on special education in all subjects, do not need progression. On the other hand, pupils heading for planned basic competence and having decision on special education just in a few subjects, have to show progression to level 3.

The Norwegian Standard Classification of Education, which was created by Statistics Norway in 1970, groups the educational activity. The standard has been revised; the latest version is from 2000.

Name: Completion rates of pupils in upper secondary education

Topic: Education

Not yet determined

Division for Education and Culture Statistics

The statistics show numbers for school counties and at national level. Statistics at a lower geographical level than county can be ordered by contacting Statistics Norway.


Reporting to OECD and Eurostat.

All education statistics at Statistics Norway is stored in a proper, standardized manner in consultation with the Data Inspectorate.

There is a need for comprehensive official education statistics and the aim of these statistics is to document education at upper secondary school level. The statistics is individually based and are built upon data on educational activity for each pupil from completed lower secondary to completed upper secondary education. The part of adult education which is individually based is also included.

Norwegian education statistics went through a structural readjustment in the beginning of the 1970. All education statistics on higher education were then collected individually based, and all educational activities were attached to each person's Personal ID-number.

The availability of individually based data has formed the basis of the National Education Database (NUDB). This database enables the production of different kinds of individualised statistics on education. It is important for the production of statistics on the flow of pupils through the educational system.

The purpose of this statistics is to develop simple analysis of the throughput of pupils through upper secondary education.

Important users of the education statistics are public administration, special interest organizations, the media, researchers, business and industry. Key users among the ministries are, in particular, the Ministry of Education and Research, the Ministry of Local Government and Regional Government and the Ministry of Finance. The statistics are also used by international organizations such as the EU, the OECD and UNESCO. Analyses of completed upper secondary education are especially relevant for planning and research.

No external users have access to the statistics and analyses before they are published and accessible simultaneously for all users on at 8 am. Prior to this, a minimum of three months' advance notice is given in the Statistics Release Calendar.

The research institution NIFU STEP published completion analyses, with data from Statistics Norway, among others.

Norwegian Directorate for Education and Training publishes annual completion statistics for upper secondary education in Skoleporten, which is delivered by Statistics Norway.

Sections 2-2 and 2-3 and the Ministry of Finance's delegation letter of February 13. February 1990.

Data are delivered according to the EU delegated act 1925/99 3711/91.

The statistics include all pupils registered in upper secondary education under the education act. Register of populations highest attained education comprises all persons 16 years and above living in Norway as at 1 October. Participants that follow reform-94 are not included.

Statistics on the completion of upper secondary education of pupils are based on pupils enrolled in the basic course for the first time and description of their educational status after five/six years. Pupils in alternative education programmes are included.

Within upper secondary education, the counties own administrative data system VIGO is the main source. Data is also obtained from the National Results Database for upper secondary examinations (NVB) administered by the Admissions Board at the University of Oslo. Other source of data is the Health Personnel Register (HPR).

Information on completed education which forms the basis for the production of completion statistics has the administrative system of the counties for upper secondary VIGO as the source of data. The main purpose of VIGO is the management of the enrolment of pupils in upper secondary education in the different countries. The database also contains data on all pupils registered in county upper secondary schools. Data from private upper secondary schools are also reported through VIGO.

To make completion statistics, it is essential to have information about results from upper secondary education. VIGO data is supplemented by data from the National Results Database (NVB) and the Health Personnel Register (HPR).

All education data undergo various on-receipt controls. It encompasses deletion of duplicates (units with identical Personal ID-number), a control of correct and valid values for each variable. The data is also recoded so they are comparable. All Personal ID-numbers are checked for errors.

The statistics are based on an enumeration of the number completed educations and registered pupils and apprentices.

Not relevant

The general rule is not to publish data if there is a risk that individuals might be identified.

Individually based education statistics were collected for the first time in 1974. Most variables are comparable, but some have changed. The Norwegian Standard Classification of Education has been revised to secure comparability over time.

Statistics for completion of upper secondary education are based on a data extraction from the National database for education (NUDB). The statistics were presented for the first time in 2004. In 2007, the statistics were presented in a new way. 2007 and onwards, Statistics Norway has differentiated between pupils and appentices that had interrupted their education and those who were enrolled in the final year but failed the exams. These two groups had previously both been included in “drop-out from upper secondary education”. Moreover, the statistics show the share of pupils having obtained a university and college certification or a vocational qualification within 5 years.

In 2020, the statistics were again revised and new tables were published. We follow pupils starting in one of the vocational programmes on additional year, we included a precision of normative length for vocational programmes, completed planned basic competences was included in several of the tables and school country was introduced as a new regional entity. Read more about this under Accuracy and reliability – revision.

When data are extracted from administrative registers, measurement and processing errors, dropout errors and withdrawal errors do not occur in the same sense as when data are collected by questionnaires. Errors may occur during the collection of data if units being investigated are not identical to the mass of units we aim at describing.

For the central part of the data used in these statistics, there is reason to assume a relatively good agreement between the specifications for excerpts and the characteristics of data in the registers, and data in the registers about individuals, schools and courses are of good quality. However, there may be shortcomings in some areas in the registers, and in such cases, errors will be transmitted if the routines for checking and correction of such errors are not sufficiently precise. Such deficiencies are mainly related to insufficient registration and/or updating of the register, or to non-standard use of codes that are not corrected through Statistics Norway's audit routines.

Measurement of results is crucial for completion statistics. The National Results Database (NVB) and data form the administrative systems for admission to upper secondary education of the counties (VIGO) are of good quality. To the extent that VIGO is the basis for passed courses and interruptions, there are possibilities for measurement errors in the sense that registration and control of results from courses to some extent depend on manual controls. This is sought to be corrected through a strong focus on routines and controls of this information both systems delivering data and in Statistics Norway’s revision of the data.

For the publication of results in June 2020, a bigger revision of the statistics for completion in upper secondary education has been undertaken.

  1. As most vocational programmes have a normative length of four years (usually two years in school and two years apprenticeship), we follow pupils starting a vocational programme one additional year, i.e. six years after starting in upper secondary education. We follow those starting a general programme over a period of five years.
  2. Previously, three years was used as normative length for general studies and four years for vocational studies, with the exception of programmes having three years at school and to years in a company. There are also a few other vocational programmes where the apprenticeship lasts for more then two years. These programmes were previously treated as if they had a normative length of four years, but we have now taken into account the actual normative length with information from the VIGO code database.
  3. Pupils with special needs and who have individual curriculums leading to planned basic competences, are specified in several tables.
  4. In tables with a regional distribution, we use school county as a regional entity instead of country of residence at the age of 16 that was previously used.


Nadine Viktoria Lunde Bratholmen

(+47) 40 81 14 55

Daniel Instebø

(+47) 40 81 13 55