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Education in Norway - statistics & facts

The educational level of the Norwegian population is currently at an all-time high, and Norwegians only become more educated. While upper secondary education is the most common education type among Norwegians, an increasing number of people enroll at higher education institutions. In 2020, upper secondary education was the highest achieved educational level for around 37 percent of the population, while around 35 percent held a higher education degree.

Primary and upper secondary education

The education system for children and adolescents in Norway is divided into three stages: primary school, lower secondary school, and upper secondary school. Primary school, lasting seven years, and lower secondary school, lasting three years, are mandatory for all children between six and 16 years. Over the past 10 years, the number of pupils in primary schools increased by around 20,000. Despite the growing number of pupils, the number of primary schools declined over the same period, reaching less than 1,530 in 2021. At the same time, however, both the number of private schools and pupils in private schools rose significantly.

While primary and lower secondary school is mandatory, upper secondary school is optional for the 16 to 19-year-old youth. Most upper secondary schools offer both general and vocational education. While the general program prepares for university studies, the vocational program focuses on careers in a specific trade or industry. In 2021, almost 200,000 students were registered in upper secondary education. Both the number of students, and the number of upper secondary schools was relatively stable during the past years.

Higher education

Those who attend a general program in upper secondary school usually move on to further education at a university or university college. Most of these are state-run, and there are no tuition fees at Norwegian universities. In 2021, there were over 318,000 students in higher education in Norway, which was almost 70,000 more than 10 years earlier. For Norwegians, universities are by far the most common institution when attending higher education. Most of the students are female, accounting for more than 190,000 of the students. Just as the total number of students in the country increased over the past decade, so did the number of immigrants in higher education, as the immigrant population of the country increased over the past 10 years. In 2021, 36,135 students were either immigrants or had parents who were immigrants.


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