Education;Immigration and immigrants
Students in higher education in Norway and students abroad in 2014. Women accounted for the whole increase of 3 400 from 2013.

Students in higher education1 October 2014


About the statistics


Name and topic

Name: Students in higher education
Topic: Education

Responsible division

Division for Education and Culture Statistics

Definitions of the main concepts and variables

Enrolled students: Students registered at an approved institution for higher education in Norway and students from Norway registered abroad in higher education per 1 October.

Type of school: According to the Standard Industrial Classification of 2007.

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

Part time/full time: Part time studies are defined by a progression less than 70 per cent of a full-time loading. Some courses at university colleges are organised only as part time studies.

School county/school municipality: Where the institution is located.

County of residence at 16 years: County where the student resided at the time he/she was 16 years old.

Age: Per 31 December.

Highest educational attainment of parents: Parental educational attainment encompasses all of the following levels:

1) Primary and lower secondary education

2) Upper secondary education

3) Higher education, short (at least two years but also 4 years or less)

4) Higher education, long (more than four years).

The education level of parents is defined as the highest level of education obtained by at least one of the parents.

Teacher training and pedagogy programmes include: Teacher training programme; various bachelor programmes in pre-school/kindergarten teacher education, specific subject/vocational teacher education and in pedagogy; general teacher/primary and lower secondary teacher programme and specific subject/ vocational teacher education; master programmes in teacher training and pedagogy; continuing education programmes for teachers.

Standard classifications


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 puprposes, the ISCED 2011 is used (International Standard Classification of Education).

Administrative information

Regional level

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

Frequency and timeliness

Final figures are published annually in March/April, and refer to enrolments in higher education as of 1. October the year before. 

International reporting

Data on enrolments is delivered to OECD, UNESCO and Eurostat.


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

It is possible to order special tables In addition to the tables that are published by contacting Statistics Norway, oppdragutdanning@ssb.no. The price will depend on the size of the order.


Background and purpose

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

Norway`s education statistics went through a structural readjustment in the beginning of the 1970's. All statistics on higher education were previously available through a census. The data is now individually based, with all educational activities being 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 connection with other types of individually based statistics where necessary (e.g. income, social-welfare).

The purpose of these statistics is to present individually based statistics of students in higher education education in Norway.

Users and applications

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

In addition, data on enrolments is 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

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 areas. Labour market statistics, health statistics, living conditions statistics and income and wage statistics are examples of other individually based statistics compiled by Statistics Norway.

Legal authority

Statistics Act, sections 2-1, 2-2 and 3-2.

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 statistics cover all students of educational institutions that are classified as universities, specialised universities or university colleges in the Standard Industrial Classification per 1 October each year.

Universities: University of Oslo, University of Bergen, Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Norwegian University of Life Sciences, UiT - The Arctic University of Norway, University of Stavanger, University of Agder, Nord University, University of South-Eastern Norway and Oslo Metropolitan University.

Specialised university institutions: Norwegian School of Economics, MF Norwegian School of Theology, Religion and Society, The Oslo School of Architecture and Design, Norwegian School of Sport Sciences, Norwegian Academy of Music, BI Norwegian Business School, VID Specialised University, Molde University College - Specialised University in Logistics and Oslo National Academy of the Arts.

University colleges are grouped into: the state university colleges, military university colleges and other university colleges. The state university colleges is a term for type of university college which is a result from a reform in 1994. Other University Colleges include Norwegian Police University College and all private university colleges.

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

As some university colleges were merged in 2016, 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 universities.

Each student can be registered as active in only one educational activity per 1 October each year. For students registered in several courses, Statistics Norway chooses the educational activity that is considered their main course of study, with higher-level, specialised university colleges and full-time courses taking priority among others. Persons in doctoral programmes (PhD) are not included.

Information on students abroad only includes students who take a whole degree abroad.

Data sources and sampling

Pursuant to the Statistical Act, Statistics Norway collects student data from Database for Statistics on Higher Education (DBH) and the administrative systems of the various higher education institutions.

Information on students abroad is provided by The State Education Loan Fund.

Surveys are not employed to collect education statistics. All data is obtained from university and college databases.

Collection of data, editing and estimations

Data collection: Pursuant to the Statistical Act (June 1989, No.54), Statistics Norway collects student data from the administrative systems of the various higher education institutions and from the State Education Loan Fund.

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, comparisons with last years data 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. At last duplicate students are deleted, which means that a student can only be counted once even though the student is registered at duplicated educational activities or educational institutions.

Estimation: No estimation is performed. The statistics are based on enumeration of students in higher education.

Seasonal adjustment

Not relevant


To prevent identification of individuals within the statistics, data is not released where there are less than three students within a single cell in a table.

Comparability over time and space

Individually based data on students has been published annually since it was first collected in 1974. Most variables are comparable, but some have changed. The revised Norwegian Standard Classification of Education recoded education courses to enable comparison of newer and older data. While education courses are reasonably comparable over time, other variables are not (e.g. coding of institution types).

Accuracy and reliability

Sources of error and uncertainty

Statistical investigations may encounter various sources of error. These errors can occur either during data collection (in this case, registration of student information) or during data processing (control and revision processes performed by Statistics Norway). It is difficult to estimate the extent of error in student registers. A person may be wrongly registered as being a student, especially for individual institutions that use a different enumeration date to Statistics Norway (1 October). Overestimation of student numbers is common for Norway's universities where registration occurs with payment of registration fees rather than enrolment in subjects. Alternatively, a student may remain in the registration system after they have completed their studies. Students themselves can provide inaccurate information to the registers, or personal responsible for the registers may make errors during data input or be uncertain of the definition of certain variables.

The State Education Loan Fund documents Norwegian students abroad. However, students from Norway who study abroad without being associated with the loan fund will be missed out in the statistics. It is not known how many people this applies to.


See general principles for revisions in Statistics Norway