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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 2019, upper secondary was the highest achieved educational level for a little over 37 percent of the population, while around 35 percent held a higher education degree of three or five years. Similarly, the share of people who had only finished compulsory primary education of ten years also declined.

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. Due to the increase of people aged under 16 in Norway, the number of pupils in primary schools increased by 20 thousand; from nearly 616 thousand in 2009 to over 636 thousand as of 2019. Despite the growing number of pupils, the number of primary schools declined over the same period, reaching 1,548 in 2019. At the same time, however, both the number of private schools and pupils admitted to private schools rose significantly.

While primary and lower secondary school is mandatory for children between six and 16 years, upper secondary school is optional for the 16 to 19-year-olds. 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 2019, 196.6 thousand students were admitted in upper secondary education. Both the number of students, and the number of upper secondary schools decreased slightly over the past years.


Higher education

Although fewer students attend upper secondary education, ever more Norwegians enroll in higher education courses. Most higher education systems are state-run, and there were over 296 thousand higher education students in Norway in 2019, which was around 60 thousand more compared to 2009. Higher education comprises different institutions such as universities, university colleges, and scientific colleges in Norway. For Norwegians, universities are by far the most common institution when attaining a higher education. Most of the students are female and are enrolled at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology in the city of Trondheim.

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Education in Norway

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Elementary school

Upper secondary education

Higher education

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