Internationalisation of Norwegian Higher Education

Traditionally, Norway has had many students taking their higher education abroad. In the year 2009–2010, about ten per cent of the total Norwegian student population was abroad (about 13 000 on full degrees, and over 7 000 on exchanges and placements). Our aim is to constantly make (Norwegian) higher education both more international and internationalized. That means that international students must be more integrated in the student environment, in education and in science. International students increase the quality of every higher education institution.As Norway is a small country, we must aim at being an interesting partner for other countries – in inter-government, program (Nordic, EU and development education and research programs), and institutional cooperation. The most important inter-governmental process is the Bologna Process, in which 47 countries work to create the European Area of Higher Education. Our 2003 reform in higher education was in part to implement the Bologna Process (new degree system, establishment of national quality assurance agency, etc.). I hope that the process will make the extended Europe to one higher education area, with no obstacles to student mobility.As for the world outside of Europe, I have signed Memorandums of Understanding on higher education cooperation with strategic partner countries such as China, India, Brazil, Argentina, Chile, and we have agreed with Canada and the USA to renew the 2008–11 North America Strategy for Higher Education for the period 2012–15.Norwegian universities and university colleges are constantly working to facilitate for international students, through reserving a significant share of their student residences for international students, and through developing new courses and programs in English. Today, more than 3,500 foreign-language courses and study programs are offered, mostly in English, and more than 200 master’s programs are taught in English. An updated list of master’s programs taught through English can be found at the official Study in Norway website1.Over the past decade, the number of international students in Norway has increased steadily. The number of incoming students on exchanges of at least three months’ duration increased from 4692 in 2007 to 5929 in 2010, and more than 12 000 foreign nationals are currently enrolled in Norwegian higher education. For the coming academic year, the number of international applicants has again risen sharply. It is an asset that Norwegian higher education is still free of charge irrespective of the nationality of the students.

Tora Aasland is a Norwegian politician for the Socialist Left Party. She served as the Minister of Research and Higher Education from 18 October 2007 to 23 March 2012.

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