Education;Immigration and immigrants
Almost 1 in 3 people in Norway have a higher education. More than half of women aged 25-39 years have a higher education.

Educational attainment of the population1 October 2014


About the statistics


Name and topic

Name: Educational attainment of the population
Topic: Education

Next release

Responsible division

Division for Education and Culture Statistics

Definitions of the main concepts and variables

Completed education: Educational activities that are completed at an educational institution during the period in question.

Type of educational programme: Classified according to the revised Norwegian Standard Classification of Education (NUS2000), which classifies educational programmes by level and field of study. All NUS2000 codes are assigned a corresponding international code (ISCED97) for international reporting purposes.

Class level: According to the NUS89 classification, upper secondary school began at class level 10, whereas according to NUS2000 it begins at class level 11. This is due to Reform 97, which introduced a ten-year primary and lower secondary school system by lowering the school age to six

Education level: The definitions for level of education were revised in 2006. Definitions are as follows (effective from 01. October, 2005):

- All individuals who have completed lower secondary school.

  • NUS2000-level = 1 and 2
  • ISCED97-level = 1 and 2
  • ISCED2011-level = 1 and 2

- Individuals who completed an upper secondary education shorter than two years in duration, in the period 1975/76 to 1994/95. This primarily entails people who only completed foundation courses at upper secondary school.

  • NUS2000-level = 2
  • ISCED97-level = 2
  • ISCED2011-level = 2

- Individuals who completed an upper secondary education shorter than three years in duration, from 1995/96 onwards. This primarily entails people who completed foundation courses or advanced courses I at upper secondary school.

  • NUS2000-level = 2
  • ISCED97-level = 2
  • ISCED2011-level = 2

- All individuals who completed upper secondary school prior to 1974/75, regardless of schooling duration.

  • NUS2000-level = 3 and 4
  • ISCED97-level = 3
  • ISCED2011-level = 3

- Individuals who completed an upper secondary education 2 years or longer in duration, in the period 1975/76 to 1994/95. This primarily entails people who completed advanced courses I or advanced courses II at upper secondary school.

  • NUS2000-level = 3 and 4
  • ISCED97-level = 3
  • ISCED2011-level= 3

- Individuals who completed an upper secondary education three years or longer in duration, from 1995/96 onwards. This primarily entails people who completed advanced courses II/Vg3 at upper secondary school.

  • NUS2000-level = 4
  • ISCED97-level = 3
  • ISCED2011-level = 3

- Individuals who completed less than 120 credit points from higher education, from 1998/99 onwards.

  • NUS2000-level = 4 and 5
  • ISCED97-level = 3 and 4
  • ISCED2011-level = 3 and 4

- Individuals who completed intermediate level courses, based on completed upper secondary level, but which are not accredited as higher education.

  • NUS2000-level = 5
  • ISCED97-level = 4
  • ISCED2011-level = 3, 4 and 5

HIGHER EDUCATION - undergraduate level
- Individuals who completed a degree from higher education up to four years in duration, prior to 1998/99.

  • NUS2000-level = 6
  • ISCED97-level = 5
  • ISCED2011-level = 5, 6 and 7

- Individuals, who have not completed a full degree from higher education, but have completed 120 credit points or more, from 1998/99 onwards.

  • NUS2000-level = 6
  • ISCED97-level = 5
  • ISCED2011-level = 5

HIGHER EDUCATION - postgraduate level
- All individuals who have completed a postgraduate degree from higher education. The majority of these degrees will be five years or longer in duration.

  • NUS2000-level = 7
  • ISCED97-level = 5
  • ISCED2011-level = 7

- All individuals who have completed a doctoral degree.

  • NUS2000-level = 8
  • ISCED97-level = 6
  • ISCED2011-level = 8

Standard classifications

Educational programmes are classified according to the Norwegian Standard Classification of Education (NUS). NUS is a six-digit education code, where the 1. digit indicates the level of education, 2.-4. digits indicate field of study and a full six-digit education code indicates an individual programme of education.

Education statistics are reported to OECD in accordance with the International Standard Classification of Education 2011 (ISCED2011) .

Administrative information

Regional level

National, county and municipal level. In addition, figures for districts in the four largest cities are presented.

Frequency and timeliness

The statistics are published annually in June and refer to 1st of October the year before. 

International reporting

The data are delivered to OECD, UNESCO and Eurostat.


All education statistics at Statistics Norway is stored in a proper, standardized manner in consultation with the Data Inspectorate.


Background and purpose

The purpose of these statistics is to present individually based statistics on the population's highest level of education. These statistics are government funded.

Statistics on the population's highest level of education have been previously compiled in connection with the 1950, 1960, 1970 and 1980 census. In addition a status report was prepared on the population's highest level of education in 1975.

The information on the population's level of education was first collected as part of the Population and Housing Census in 1970 (FoB70). Information on the population's level of education has since been updated each year with annual files on education completed in Norway. The 1980 Population and Housing Census was used to update the level of education for Norwegians who completed a degree abroad between 1970 and 1980. To update the Register for the Population's level of Education on missing information about immigrants education completed abroad before immigrating to Norway, three surveys are contucted:

1. In 1991, information was collected on education completed abroad by foreign-born residents who immigrated to Norway for the first time between 01. November 1980 and 31. December 1990, and were aged 16 and over at the end of the first year they arrived. This survey was called Education Completed Abroad .

2. A similar survey was conducted in 1999 for all Norwegian residents with a foreign background who were listed in the Register of the Population's Level of Education with an unknown level of education. Also included in the 1999 survey were non-respondents to the 1991 survey and Norwegians who were living abroad when the Population's Level of Education register was first created in 1970.

3. In the autumn 2011 a new survey called "Survey on education 2011" was conducted. Statistics Norway conducted a survey among those registered in the Register of the Population's Level of Education with an unknown education level. Statistics Norway do not automatically get information about education completed in other counties by immigrants. There are no reporting about such education. Before the survey was conducted, Statistics norway lacked information about over 40 per cent of all immigrants elder than 16 years. The share of missing information increased every year because of new immigrants coming to Norway.

The Register for the Population’s Level of Education contains information on all residents, 16 years of age and older. While missing data is minimal in this register for persons who have completed their education in Norway, there is an increasing share of missing among immigrants who completed their education abroad before immigrating to Norway. With an increasing immigration to Norway in recent years, and probably in future, the missing gap is increasing. Census-surveys have filled some of the missing data, however, around 25 percent of immigrants still have an unknown level of education in 2014. With rising non-response in these census-surveys, the problem is unlikely to disappear.

An imputation method is used to create a “complete” dataset and aggregate tables is presented. For more information, se under Production.


Users and applications

Important users of the education statistics are public administration, special interest organizations, the media, researchers, business and industry. Key users among the ministries are, in particular, the Ministry of Education and Research, the Ministry of Local Government and Regional Development, the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Children and Family Affairs. The statistics are also used by international organizations such as the EU, the OECD and UNESCO.

In addition, the statistics are used internally in Statistics Norway in publications and in assignments.

Equal treatment of users

No external users have access to the statistics and analyses before they are published and accessible simultaneously for all users on ssb.no 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.

Coherence with other statistics

Education statistics are individually based and therefore easily linked to other individual-based statistics at Statistics Norway. Education statistics are used comprehensively by labour market statistics, health statistics, living conditions statistics and income and wage statistics. The education statistics are also used in various sample surveys directed by Statistics Norway.

Legal authority

Sections 2-2 and 3-2 of The Statistics Act of 16 June 1989.

EEA reference

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 Register of the Population's Level of Education encompasses all individuals registered as a resident in Norway per 01. October and who are aged 16 and older at the end of the reporting year. Also included are 15-year-olds who have completed lower secondary school or are registered in upper secondary education or above.

Data sources and sampling

The level of education register is originally based on information from the 1970 Population and Housing Census. Each year, the database is updated with new information on completed degrees in Norway. Education completed abroad and supported by the State Education Loan Fund is included from 1986 onwards. Statistics Norway's special surveys Education Completed Abroad from 1990 and 1999 have also been used to update the database. The Health Personnel Register (HPR) and National Certificate Database (NVB) have been used as additional data sources since 2001, - and the Norwegian computer system for cases involving foreign nationals and refugees (UDB) since 2008.

The National Education Database (NUDB) was created in 2002 and contains individually based education statistics dating back to 1970. Each year the database is updated with records of current students and completed educations for the previous academic year. Course codes from the completed educations are used to update the population's level of education where applicable. If an individual has completed two courses of the same level, the one with the highest class level is chosen. Specific fields of study are chosen over general fields and newer courses are counted before older courses. Credit points have also been used to determine education level since 1999. Between 1999 and 2004, a higher education level was attained with a single year full-time loading of 60 credit points. From 01. October 2005 onwards, 120 credit points are required to attain a higher education level.

Collection of data, editing and estimations

Data collection: Pursuant to the Statistical Act, Statistics Norway collects student data from Norwegian Social Science Data Services (NSD) and the administrative systems of some higher education institutions. 

Editing: Editing includes both control and revision, and is performed on all data received from educational institutions. It encompasses deletion of duplicate records, a control for correct and valid values for each variable and checks for missing information. Several variables are re-coded to comply with control programs run by Statistics Norway and Personal ID-numbers are referenced against Statistics Norway's population database to check for errors.

Estimation: As from 1 October 2014 measures has been taken to be able to present statistics representative to immigrants at an aggregated level. An imputation method is used to create a “complete” dataset. A missing at random assumption is made, with imputation being based on a nearest neighbour technique called predictive mean matching. The auxiliary variables used to find a matching donor include gender, age, occupation, income, length of time living in Norway, citizenship and country of origin.

Results from the imputed dataset show some small overall changes. In general, imputation reduces the percentage of both the highest and lower education levels. Comparison of the imputation results among Swedish immigrants with data from Statistics Sweden shows the imputation proposed is adjusting the data in the right direction. For more about the methode, se Jentoft, 2014.


Seasonal adjustment

Not relevant


The general rule is not to publish data if less than 3 individuals are found within a cell or unit in a table. This is to prevent identification of individuals within the statistics.

Comparability over time and space

Systematic collection of the population's attained level of education began in 1970. Prior to this, information on level of education was collected in connection with the 1950 and 1960 censuses.

Comparability of education level is difficult in the 1970's and 1980's. Comparisons in these earlier years should be restricted to the three principal education levels: primary and lower secondary, upper secondary and higher education.

Definitions for education level have been revised in 2006 to better reflect international standards. In general, the demands have been increased for attaining Levels of upper secondary and higher education.

Since all immigrants with unknown level of education received an estimated level of education in 2014 (see "Data collection, editing and estimations"), the comparability of immigrants education over time is influenced.

Accuracy and reliability

Sources of error and uncertainty

Although an individual may complete several educational programmes in the course of life, only the highest of these is registered in the database for the population's attained level of education. Errors may be linked to the education files that form the basis for the level of education. For example, individual tertiary institutions may wrongly define a student as meeting the requirements for completing a degree. Reporting of combined social science degrees (Cand.mag.) is a problem with several institutions because these degrees do not have a set curriculum and are only registered as complete when a diploma is issued. In many cases, this occurs some time after the student actually completed their degree and may be reported to Statistics Norway later than the actual time of completion.

Sources of error may also be connected with education completed abroad. The main sources of errors lie with immigrants with an unknown level of education and Norwegian-born citizens who completed education abroad between 1980 and 1986. The number of immigrants listed with an unknown level of education was reduced for a period of time after two Education Completed Abroad surveys were conducted in 1991 and 1999. The State Educational Loan Fund is the main source of data for education completed abroad by Norwegian-born citizens. This fund, however, does not include foreign-born residents who leave Norway for a period of time to complete an education, and later return to Norway.

Education statistics are registerbased and sampling errors do not apply in theory. In reality, some pupils or students may be left out of the statistics as Statistics Norway may not receive responses from all known institutions, or not being aware of new institutions. Additionally, an institution may accidentally leave out an entire class without Statistics Norway identifying the error in their control processes.


Errors may occur in the administrative system of educational institutions, in particular with self-reported information from the student or erroneous reporting from the data provider. However, a number of these non-sampling errors will be identified as part of control and revision routines performed by Statistics Norway.

Also, see general principles for revisions in Statistics Norway.