Credits and graduations from higher education

Updated: 25 April 2022

Next update: 12 April 2023

Share of doctoral degrees attained by women
Share of doctoral degrees attained by women

About the statistics

The statistics on graduations and credits from higher education include all completed degrees and credits attained during the period from October 1 to September 30. Completed degrees and credits attained from abroad are not included.

Completed education: A student is considered to have completed an education when the educational institution has issued a diploma or somehow approved that he/she has fulfilled the requirements for completing the education in question.

Credits points: Students are awarded with credits when they have met the requirements for passing a course.

Students: Students er registered students as of October 1st, as well as students who are awarded with credits in the course of a school year.

Academic year: A full academic year corresponds to 60 credits at universities and colleges in Norway.

Age: Estimated as of December 31.

Type of institution: According to the Standard Industrial Classification of 2007. The institutions are classified as Universities, Specialized University Institutions, and University Colleges, where University Colleges are again divided into three main groups: State University Colleges, Military Colleges and “other university colleges.”

Ownership: Educational institutions are classified as either public or private.

Educational activity: According to the Norwegian Standard Classification of Education (NUS2000). Programmes are classified according to their level and field of study.

Highest educational attainment of parents: Parental educational attainment is divided into four categories: (1) Primary and lower secondary education, (2) Upper secondary education, (3) Higher education, short (at least two years, but also 4 years or less), and (4) Higher education, long (more than four years). Parental educational attainment is defined by that of the parents with the highest level of education. For example, if the parental educational attainment of a student is “(3) Higher education, short,” it implies that at least one of the parents has education at this level. Cases where there is no information on the level of education of any of the parents falls into the “Unspecified” group. See also the definitions of educational level.

Immigrants: Persons born abroad of two foreign-born parents and four foreign-born grandparents.

Norwegian-born to immigrant parents: Persons who are born in Norway of two parents born abroad, and in addition have four grandparents born abroad.

Country background: Constructed on the basis of information about the country of birth for three generations and refers to private, or mother's, or father's, or grandparents' foreign country of birth. For people born abroad this is (with few exceptions) their own native land. For people born in Norway this is their parents' country of birth. In cases where the parents have different countries of birth, the mother's country of birth is chosen.

Educational activities are grouped by the Norwegian Standard Classification of Education which was established in 1970 by Statistics Norway and later revised in 1973, 1989 and 2000. Educational institutions are classified as being higher education by the Standard Industrial Classification.

For international purposes, the ISCED 2011 is used (International Standard Classification of Education).

Name: Credits and graduations from higher education
Topic: Education

12 April 2023

360 Division for Education and Culture Statistics

Figures are presented at national level, at municipal level and by educational institution. Data on enrolment in higher education include information that makes it possible to provide figures at other regional levels.

Figures are published annually in April. As of 2015, data on credit points was merged with data on graduations from univercsties and colleges. Prior to 2015, data on credit points was published separately.

The data is provided for UNESCO, OECD and Eurostat (U-O-E).

Statistics Norway stores all data in a proper, standardised manner in consultation with the Norwegian Data Protection Authority.

Statistics Norway can deliver supplementary data and tables related to these statistics. To order supplementary data and tables, please contact Statistics Norway: The price will depend on the size of the order.

There is a high demand for the collection of official statistics on education. Official education statistics are individual-based and document the educational activities of all Norwegian residents from completion of lower secondary school to completion of all higher education including doctoral/PhD studies.

Norway’s education statistics went through a structural readjustment in the beginning of the 1970s. All statistics on higher education were previously available through a census. The data is now individual-based, where all educational activities are attached to each individual’s personal ID-number. The data is contained in the National Education Database (NUDB), in a format that allows the production of different kinds of education statistics and alignment with other types of individual-based statistics where necessary (e.g. income, social-welfare).

The purpose of the statistics is to present individually based statistics of graduates and attained credit points in higher education in Norway.

Important users of the education statistics are the Ministry of Education and Research, public administration, researchers, special interest organisations, international organisations (Eurostat, OECD and UNESCO), media, business and industry. In addition, data is used internally in Statistics Norway in publications and in assignments.

No external users have access to the statistics and analyses before they are published and accessible simultaneously for all users on at 8:00 AM. Prior to this, a minimum of three months’ advance notice is given in the Statistics Release Calendar. This is one of Statistics Norway’s key principles for ensuring that all users are treated equally.

Data from higher education is combined with data from lower and upper secondary education when revision processes are complete. Data is then stored as single annual files in the National Education Database (NUDB). Statistics Norway uses a similar system for all individually based statistics, making it easy to combine education statistics with other statistics. Labour market statistics, health statistics, living conditions statistics and income and wage statistics are examples of other individually based statistics compiled by Statistics Norway.

Act of 21 June 2019 No. 32 relating to official statistics and Statistics Norway § 10.

Commission Regulation (EU) No 88/2011 of 2 February 2011 implementing Regulation (EC) No 452/2008 of the European Parliament and of the Council concerning the production and development of statistics on education and lifelong learning, as regards statistics on education and training systems.

The statistics on graduations and credits from higher education institutions include all completed degrees and credits attained during the period from October 1 to September 30. Completed degrees and credits attained from abroad are not included.

Only educational institutions classified by the Standard Industrial Classification as a higher education institution are included. Educational institutions are grouped as Universities, Specialised University Institutions and University Colleges.

In recent years, a number of institutions in higher education has been merged into larger units, see changes in educational institutions (in Norwegian).

As some University Colleges were merged in 2016 into larger units, there was a decrease in the number of students in University Colleges, as well as a corresponding increase in the number of students in Universities and in Specialized University Institutions.

Pursuant to the Statistical Act, Statistics Norway collects data on attained credit points and graduations from Database for Statistics on Higher Education (DBH) and the administrative systems of various higher education institutions. Information on completed doctoral degrees/PhD is included.

Surveys are not employed to collect education statistics.

Data collection: Pursuant to the Statistical Act (June 1989, No. 54), Statistics Norway collects student data from Database for Statistics on Higher Education (DBH).

Editing: Editing includes both control and revision and is performed on all educational data collected. It encompasses deletion of duplicate records, a control for correct and valid values for each variable, comparisons with last year’s data and checks for missing information. Several variables are re-coded to comply with control programs run by Statistics Norway. Personal ID-numbers are referenced against Statistics Norway’s population database to check for errors. At last, duplicate students are deleted, which implies that a student can only be counted once although the student may be registered for several educational activities or educational institutions at the same time.

Estimation: No estimation is performed. The statistics are based on data obtained from university and college databases.

Not relevant

Data is not released where there are less than three units within a single cell in a table if there is a risk of identification, i.e. the data can be traced back to an identifiable person.

Individual-based data on completed education has been published annually since it was first collected in the academic year 1973/74. Most variables are comparable, but some have changed. The Norwegian Standard Classification of Education (NUS2000) has been revised to secure comparability over time. While educational variables are reasonably comparable over time, other variables, e.g. various institution types, cannot be re-coded and thus are not comparable over time. Credit points variables are complete from the academic year 2004/05 onwards.

Statistical investigations may encounter various sources of error. The errors can occur either during data collection (in this case, during registration at the higher education institution) or during data processing (control and revision processes performed by Statistics Norway).

Overestimation of student numbers could occur for universities where registration occurs with payment of registration fees rather than enrolment in subjects. An overestimation of student numbers leads to an overestimation of the proportion of students who do not complete any credit points during the academic year. Students themselves can also provide inaccurate information to the registers.

Inaccuracies in graduation statistics may occur when administrative registers wrongly define a student as meeting the requirements for completing a degree. In some cases, the diploma could be issued later than the actual time of completion, which leads to the degree being registered at an inaccurate time.

Regarding the registration of credit points, there may be cases of institutions or study programs where credits are only registered when the entire program is completed. In this case, a student could be registered with zero credits in the first years and registered with total credits (for example 180 credits) in the last year.

See general principles for revisions in Statistics Norway.