These are some of the results from the seventh round of the EUROSTUDENT survey, collecting comparable data on the social and economic conditions of student life in higher education across Europe. In this article we highlight a few areas in which Norwegian student life differs in comparison with other European countries.

Eurostudent is a survey conducted among students in various European countries. The purpose of the survey is to collect comparative data on the social dimension of higher education in Europe. This includes not only students' study situation, but also their financial and housing situation. The seventh round of the survey was conducted in the period 2019-2021, with 26 participating countries. The data collection was carried out in most countries in the spring of 2019 and international results were published in the autumn of 2021. Of the 24,000 students in the Norwegian sample, 46.5 percent responded to the survey.

In this article, we only look at countries that collected the data in the spring of 2019. We compare Norwegian results with other European countries. When comparing results across countries, one must take into consideration which students are included in the survey. Denmark, for example, only includes full-time students, and Finland primarily includes students studying for a bachelor’s or a master’s degree. The Netherlands does not include single courses and private institutions, which make up only a small proportion of the sector in the country. In Poland, other postgraduate degree programs are not included in the sample, which means a deviation from EUROSTUDENT's guidelines stating which students are included in the target group.

A smaller proportion of students experience study-related difficulties in Norway

4 in 10 students in Norway experience study-related difficulties, such as high work demands or organizational challenges, in their study program. As figure 1 shows, Norway has a smaller proportion of students who experience study-related difficulties in their study program compared to other countries. In a European context, Iceland and Poland stand out – here 6 in 10 students experienced study-related challenges.­

Figure 1. Proportion of students who experience study-realted difficulties in the study program, by age and country. 2019

Figure 1. Proportion of students who experience study-realted difficulties in the study program, by age and country. 2019

Figure 1 shows the proportion of students who experience study-related difficulties in their study program in Norway compared to other European countries in 2019, divided by various age groups. Norway has a smaller proportion of students who experience study-related difficulties in their study program compared to other countries, and study-related difficulties are most common among students younger than 22 compared to students older than 30 years or older in Norway.

Source: Statistics Norway

Source: EUROSTUDENT Database

In Norway, study-related difficulties are most common among the youngest students (younger than 22 years), and less common among students who are 30 years or older. We find a similar pattern in Iceland and in Poland. In Finland and Sweden, the differences are somewhat less pronounced, while in Denmark and the Netherlands, a somewhat larger proportion of older students experience study-related difficulties.

The EUROSTUDENT survey asks students to what extent they experience difficulties in their current study program due to study-related difficulties.

Study-related difficulties are defined as:

  • Difficulties due to the work requirements in the study program, e.g. demanding exams, assignments, presentations, etc.
  • Organizational challenges at the educational institution, e.g. timetable organization, space restrictions in lectures/classes, mandatory attendance, etc.
  • Administrative issues at the educational institution, e.g. delayed grades, results, credit transfers, registration procedures for courses/exams, etc.
  • Other study-related difficulties.

Norway has a high proportion of students with children

1 in 4 students in Norway has one or more children. Norway has a larger proportion of students with children than many other countries - also when considering the age of the students.

Figure 2. Proportion of student with children, by age. 2019

The Nordic countries stand out by having a larger proportion of students with children compared to other countries in Europe. In Iceland, 1 in 3 students has children, and in Sweden and Finland, this applies to 16 and 19 percent of students, respectively.

Denmark has the lowest proportion of students with children in the Nordic countries with 11 per cent. This must be seen in connection with the fact that Denmark only includes full-time students in the survey. They also have a smaller proportion of students in the oldest age group compared to other Nordic countries.

In contrast, only 4 percent of students have children in the Netherlands. The results must be seen in connection with differences in age among the student population across countries in Europe.

In Norway and Iceland, around 30 percent of students are 30 years or older. In the Netherlands, on the other hand, almost half of the students are younger than 22 years, and only 7 percent are 30 years or older.

Even when taking into account age differences between countries, we find differences in the proportion of students with children between different age groups.

Among students aged 25-29, 1 in 10 students in Norway, Denmark and Poland has one or more children. Except for Iceland, there is a smaller proportion of students with children in this age group in all other counties.

Not surprisingly, there is a larger proportion of students with children among those who are 30 years or older. Apart from the Netherlands, more than half of the students in the selected countries have children. Again, we find the highest proportion in the Nordic countries, with Iceland and Norway at the top. Here, 7 out of 10 students who are 30 years or older have one or more children.

Job income accounts for an increasing share of students' income in Norway – but not in Sweden

In Norway, students not living with their parents, on average, have a monthly income of 19 000 NOK, from which 9 950 NOK come from paid jobs.

Income from paid jobs accounts for 53 per cent of the total monthly income of students not living with parents in 2019, which is housing situation for the vast majority of students in Norway. Public student support, i.e. both student loans and grants, amount for 32 per cent. The remaining 15 per cent of the income come from financial family support and other income sources, such as child support.

In 2016, job income accounted for 45 percent of total income of student not living with parents in Norway. Hence, job income accounts for an increasing proportion of students’ income in Norway.

Figure 3. Sources of income for students not living with parents, by country. 2016 and 2019. Share of average income

¹ The question was not asked in Denmark.

We see a similar picture in Finland, Poland and Iceland, where job income also accounts for an increasing share of student’s income, from around 40 per cent to more than 50 per cent in the same period.

In contrast, job income accounts for a smaller percent of Swedish students’ income in 2019 compared to 2016. Sweden stands out in that public support accounts for half of students' income in 2019.

Differences between countries may be related to different schemes for public student support and how common it is for students to work. In Norway, 7 out of 10 students work throughout the semester, and this is a high number in both the European and Nordic context.

The differences are also related to the fact that students' age varies between countries. In Norway, every third student who does not live with their parents is 30 years or older, and job income becomes a more important source of income the older students get.