Waterfalls and English attract international students

Norwegian nature and courses offered in English are decisive factors in attracting international students to Norway. Norwegian students, however, give them the cold shoulder.

Eight of ten international students choose Norway based on the broad range of studies in English. In addition to this, Norway’s good reputation as a destination for studies and research and Norwegian nature are among the most important reasons that international students choose Norway. This is according to a survey carried out by the Norwegian Centre for International Cooperation in Higher Education (SIU).

A good reputation

Bente Gundersen, information adviser at SIU, believes that the survey results are congruous with the way in which Norway is promoted as a place of study.

– We have had several hypotheses regarding which factors are important to different students, and several of these points confirm our beliefs, she says.

She is also very happy that Norway turns out to have such a good reputation internationally.

– Naturally, we focus on quality, but so does everyone else. In order to be a little different, we also emphasize our academic flagships, such as petroleum-related studies, marine studies, renewable energy and human rights, she says.

Nature and English

Kristin Macht is an exchange student from Germany, and confirms that the use of English was an important factor in her decision to choose Norway.

– I wanted to go to a country in which they spoke English in addition to another language. In addition to this, I had visited Norway previously, and liked Norwegian culture and nature.

Her fellow countrymen support her in this. Germans rate Norwegian nature as the most important factor when they choose Norway as a study destination. Russian students are interested in career prospects in Norway, while for the French this is the least important aspect. Chinese students are concerned with the low levels of criminality in Norway, and do not care very much about the cost of living.

Integration difficult

Even though the study shows that the majority of students are happy with their stay in Norway, many have replied that Norway is more expensive than they had foreseen, that the standard of student housing has not met their expectations, and that Norwegian students are particularly difficult to get into contact with.

Maria Korotkova is vice president of the International Students’ Union (ISU). She thinks that the SIU do a good job of promoting Norway, but believes that international students must be better integrated.

– SIU are very competent in many areas related to recruitment, but what is lacking is the integration of students once they actually get here, she states.

German student Kristin Mach can confirm this:

– It is not easy to get in touch with Norwegian students, she says.

– Most of the friends I have made have been other exchange students, and the only place I have contact with Norwegians is through seminars and study circles.

– A clear signal

Gundersen of SIU believes that Norway is on the right path when it comes to promotion, but says that SIU will use the information to customize promotion activities in order to suit the different countries.

– We have been given a number of pointers on how to reach the various target groups, both with regards to what the different groups find important, and through which information channels we can communicate with them, she concludes.

Ingvild Reymert, leader of the National Union of Students in Norway (NSU), thinks that the results send a clear signal.

– The survey clearly shows that students place a great deal of importance on the quality of studies, and agreements between educational institutions.