Spotlight on Europe 2017: How can Norwegian institutions attract students from their key international markets?

Spotlight on Europe 2017: How can Norwegian institutions attract students from their key international markets?


Famed for it’s stunning fjords, Viking ancestry, the Northern Lights and midnight sun, Norway also boasts the northern most university in the world. The University of Tromsø (also known as the Arctic University of Norway) sits on the Island of Tromsøya, which positions it – yes you guessed it – within the Arctic Circle – very cool! (no pun intended!)

Higher Education is free in Norway – whether you’re local or from the other side of the world, but it’s worth remembering that living costs in Scandinavia are significantly higher than most other countries.

Despite this, international students come from far and wide to enjoy the culture, lifestyle and education system Norway has to offer. Foreign students represent nearly 10% of the student population, which is double the figure of ten years ago. The largest source markets include Sweden, Russia, Germany and China, although there has been significant growth from markets such as Ukraine, Nepal, Poland, Denmark and France. With over 200 Masters programmes taught in English, Norwegian institutions have made great efforts to continue attracting international talent, and reassurinlyg for many incoming students, Norway is a member of the Bologna Process (along with 50 other countries) meaning those who study there will hold qualifications that are recognised by countries worldwide.

This reinforces Norway’s firm belief in internationalism, which is a major factor in them choosing not to follow in the footsteps of their Scandinavian neighbours who have introduced tuition fees for international students. It also supports their strong social philosophy, that income differences should not affect a person’s right to a good education.

Whilst few would disagree with this sentiment, there are many in Norway who feel that they, as taxpayers, should not be subsidising foreign students education only for those students to return to their home country, after graduation, taking their new skills and knowledge with them. Honestly, this is a pretty big problem for Norway right now, and the Government are working on new measures to increase the amount of students that stay and work in Norway, and invest back into the economy.

So what next?

With the Government merging universities in an effort to streamline the sector, making it more efficient and robust, the debate on tuition fees is bound to rumble on so it’s anyone’s guess as to the future of the Norway’s free education system.

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Top tips for Norwegian institutions to reach the students from their priority markets

Eastern Europe

  • Cultural interest and lifestyle is a priority for students from Eastern Europe when choosing where to study, so make sure you sell your location! Highlight any extra-curricular activities that are available, the surrounding area, the local culture and general lifestyle benefits.
  • Subject reputation is very important to students from Eastern Europe so make sure you shout about any specialism your institution offers, international recognition or awards.


  • Research shows that subject specific rankings are more important to Chinese students than overall rankings, so promote any subject specialisms you offer.
  • Career services, links to the business community and connections with prestigious businesses are all a major draw.
  • Peer reviews go a long way in convincing Chinese students of where to study so using current students as advocates would be a great way to go.
  • Use Baidu – China’s main search platform.


  • Research shows that the main motivations for Russian students to study abroad are to get cultural experience and to emigrate, so use this opportunity to promote the Norwegian culture and highlight the benefits of emigrating to Norway.
  • Use digital innovations to capture the attention of prospective students – a great option would be using a 360 degree video to show off the campus and surrounding area, such as this one that we made for The Courtauld Institute of Art in London.

Get in touch with our team of digital experts, to learn how we can revolutionise your digital marketing strategy and generate more student enrolments for your institution.