Two in ten refugees have higher education
Education;Immigration and immigrants
utniv, Population´s level of education, educational attainment (primary and lower secondary school, upper secondary school), university college/university), educationLevel of education, Education, Immigration and immigrants, Education

Population´s level of education1 October 2015



Next release:

Two in ten refugees have higher education

For the first time, Statistics Norway is publishing official education statistics that distinguish between the level of education for immigrants who have come to Norway for reasons such as work, family, education and refuge.

Level of education for men and women 16 years and older. Numbers and per cent1
1For many immigrants SSB has no information about their level of education. 2014 figures includes an estimated level of education for missing values for these immigrants. See About the statistics for more information.
2Includes intermediate level courses based on completed upper secondary level, but which are not accredited as tertiary education
3Higher education, short comprises higher education up to 4 years in duration.
4Higher education, long comprises higher education more than 4 years in duration.
5People with unknown or no completed education are not included.
Total1 956 8351 981 0122 117 0102 104 975
Below upper secondary education541 295570 084570 495557 697
Upper secondary education2857 139768 501927 460787 750
Higher education, short3332 068479 292394 123570 821
Higher education, long4160 181109 446211 317173 438
Of this:
Ph.D.15 1617 81524 90917 117
Unknown or no completed education166 15253 68913 61515 269
Per cent5
Below upper secondary education28.629.627.126.7
Upper secondary education245.339.944.137.7
Higher education, short317.624.918.727.3
Higher education, long48.55.710.08.3
Of this
Figure. The population's level of education, 1 October 2015. Click on image for larger version.

The level of education through 46 years

In Norway, 32 per cent of the population has a higher education. This proportion has increased by 0.8 percentage points since last year, and by 25 percentage points since 1970 when Statistics Norway began recording education statistics. As of today, there are still more people with an upper secondary education (41 per cent) than a higher education in Norway. This has been the situation since 1989 when the proportion with an upper secondary education (42.6 per cent) passed the proportion with a primary or lower secondary education (42.5). 

There are no large fluctuations in the level of education from year to year and the Norwegian statistics for 2015 show the same trend we have seen in recent years. For example, we see that:

  • Growing numbers have a higher education and the number with a primary education as their highest education is decreasing.
  • More women than men have a higher education, and particularly a large proportion of women between 25 and 39 years have completed studies at tertiary level.
  • The level of education is highest in the counties where the large universities are located, and about every other person in Oslo has a higher education. 

However, for the first time, Statistics Norway is publishing the population's education by reason for immigration. The statistics now distinguish between educational attainments by background for immigration. The groups are divided into family, labour, education and refuge. The figure above shows that there are significant differences in the level of education between labour immigrants, family immigrants and refugees.

For more detailed information about immigrants’ levels of education see the table “Level of education for immigrants 16 years and older. Sex, country background and reason for immigration. Numbers and per cent”.