SIU is a national agency under the auspices of the Norwegian Ministry of Education and Research, commissioned by several national and international public organisations to manage programmes within education, research and development cooperation. This includes programmes and agreements on behalf of the Ministry of Education and Research (KD), Ministry of Foreign Affairs (UD), Norad, Nordic Council of Ministers, the European Commission and Norwegian Directorate for Education and Training. SIU is also responsible for promoting Norway as an attractive destination for education and research, as well as providing information, advice and assessment to the Norwegian higher education sector and national authorities.
“All the world is a laboratory to the inquiring mind” is a phrase that could well be used to describe Norwegian learning environments (Martin H. Fischer). A renaissance country in terms of educational and research opportunities, Norway has made an astounding transformation from a nation of raw materials to one of cutting-edge technology. This has created a synergy indelibly linking higher learning to research and development (R&D) to the diverse world of industry in this country – and to the international environment at large.
Norway has never been more attractive than right now; the number of international students enrolled at Norwegian universities and colleges has more than doubled in the past decade, from 6,000 to over 12,000.
Within this field of internationalisation, the SIU has the important task of coordinating vast national educational and research measures according to official Norwegian policy. For a country with less than five million inhabitants, Norway offers an impressive variety in opportunities. The SIU is responsible for keeping its finger on the pulse of these activities, working with the array of educational institutions in Norway and internationally to ensure that nothing is missed.
The core of SIU’s activities lies in its ability to communicate the wide range of opportunities available to Norwegians and the international environment alike. These include different initiatives and activities that are covered in the SIU newsletters, magazines, brochures and web-based communication that take potential students and other readers behind the scenes in reporting on cooperative opportunities, as well as ongoing projects and the results they are producing.
According to the SIU’s Head of Information, Hanne Alver Krum, “there is a wealth of information available to students and researchers looking into the possibilities of Norwegian education or research activities on the website www.StudyinNorway.no. You can also get valuable information through our publications, as well as the various conferences and seminars we hold on a regular basis.”
Highly Satisfied Students
As SIU’s target groups are becoming increasingly net-savvy, the site Study in Norway is an essential tool in the recruiting of international students to Norwegian higher education institutions.
In 2008, the agency decided to investigate how these students actually experience their stay in the country. The results, published in a report in 2009, were very positive. In the first-ever reputation survey of this kind in Norway, 84% replied that they were happy or very happy with their experience as an international student in Norway.
Though she is not surprised by these results, Hanne Alver Krum is pleased by the high rate of satisfaction.
“For us this confirms that we’re on the right track when it comes to choices and priorities,” she says.
The vast array of courses offered in English was listed as the single most important reason for choosing Norway over other countries. The high level of education quality, Norway’s good reputation as an education and research nation, as well as spectacular nature were other contributing factors in the students’ decision making.
The survey was carried out to increase knowledge about international students’ preconceptions and experiences of Norway and to map out what lies behind the choices they make. The findings will also be used as guidelines in the further development of Study in Norway and other promotional activities.
200 Master’s taught in English
Norwegian higher education institutions are located over the entire country, from the High North (see related article on the University of the Arctic) to larger cities. International students may apply for admission to a variety of undergraduate and graduate degree programmes. They may arrive in Norway through established exchange programmes, institutional agreements, or as so called free movers, where they arrange the stay on their own, including type of study, length and financing.
Some universities and colleges offer specifically designed programmes for foreign students, including some 200 Master’s programmes taught in English, as well as a vast number of courses and lectures in English on all levels. Admission to higher education in Norway does not require permanent residency and none of the public institutions charge tuition fees.
The SIU works to promote and facilitate cooperation, standardisation, mobility, and the overcoming of cultural barriers to communication and exchange within the realm of higher education on an international level.
The opportunities here attract high-level minds from all over the world, with both students and researchers coming to the country knowing the education and career possibilities that await them. The SIU is pivotal in this communication process.
There are few places in the world where one can combine studies with the vast array of recreational, cultural and social activities as can be done in Norway. The Northern Lights, the midnight sun, cultural and music festivals, international seminars and events within a wide range of professional fields – or simply experience the fjords and mountains, challenging your outer limits with skiing, white water rafting or climbing. Students and researchers in Norway never lack for natural opportunities or professional development, and the Norwegian Centre for International Cooperation in Higher Education is in place to maintain the overview.