International students are defined as all students without a permanent residence permit in Norway. There are three categories of international student:
- self-financing degree students
- exchange students
- students participating in various fellowship programmes.
Eligibility for exchange and fellowship programmes is usually determined on the basis of national and regional bilateral agreements and fulfilment of quota requirements. Participation in a number of the funding programmes is restricted to applicants from specific countries.
All international applicants must fulfil the same basic entrance requirements as Norwegian students. These requirements vary depending on the country in which the applicant has completed his or her primary and secondary education. Applicants must normally have completed upper secondary education. In addition, there are specific entry requirements for programmes in certain subjects. In some cases, non-formal competence or occupational experience may be included as qualification for entry into a study programme. Students who apply for graduate degree studies must satisfy requirements regarding previous study at university level.
A new degree structure, adopted from the Bologna Process, has been introduced into the Norwegian higher education sector. Norwegian universities and university colleges now issue the following degrees:
- Bachelor's degree (three years),
- Master's degree (two years),
- Ph.D. (three years).
In a few subject areas, students will enrol for a five-year integrated degree course (Master's degree). Certain specialized programmes, such as medicine, veterinary science, psychology and theology follow a different degree structure that extends over four to six years.
A good command of English is required of all students attending Norwegian institutions of higher education. International students who are not native speakers of English must document their English-language proficiency. International students accepted for bachelor's degree studies must complete a preparatory programme in Norwegian language before they begin a study programme, unless they can document a good command of the Norwegian language. The Norwegian language programme includes Norwegian language courses and a course in Norwegian life and society, and normally takes two semesters to complete.
There are no tuition fees at Norwegian higher education institutions, although fees may be imposed for certain professional education programmes, further and special education programmes and study at some of the private institutions. Cost of living grants are only awarded to international students accepted for selected fellowship programmes. Self-financing students must document that they possess a minimum of NOK 80,000 (approx EUR 10,000) per academic year.
The following types of foreign nationals are eligible for student loans and stipends:
- Nordic nationals
- Citizens of EEA countries
- Citizens of Central and Eastern European countries as well as developing countries
- Political refugees and persons granted residency on humanitarian grounds