Study in Norway: The Lowdown

Samuel Clennett

Norway has a reputation as a stunning country, with a high standard of living, vibrant cities and welcoming people. If the opportunity to live in Norway for a while isn’t enough, there are also several world class universities, as well as many specialist colleges and institutions offering taught higher level courses in English.

Public universities in Norway are free to attend in many cases - even for international students. You may simply be asked to pay a small admin fee per semester - although some specialist courses and private university courses do have charges. The main challenge for international students in Norway is the cost of living which is high compared to many other countries.

We’ll cover the likely costs of studying and living in Norway a little later. We’ll also look at how you can cut the costs of living abroad with Wise. Use Wise to send and receive international payments, to access currency conversion at the mid-market rate, and pay just low transparent fees. You can also get a multi-currency borderless account to make it easier to convert your dollars to krone, and spend on day to day items when you arrive in Norway.

Studying in Norway

You’ll find many courses offered in English through Norwegian universities - including undergraduate courses, postgraduate courses, and shorter courses covering languages and vocational subjects¹.

That said, where you live in Norway may be almost as exciting as what you can study. Maybe you want to soak up the culture in Oslo, or be in easy distance of the great outdoors by studying in Bergen. Or why not consider something truly unique and take a look at the University of Tromsø, which is within the Arctic Circle, and a great place to experience the seasonal extremes of perpetual darkness and midnight sun, as well as spotting the northern lights.

If you choose a public university in Norway you’ll probably be able to study without paying tuition fees. Instead there’s a small admin fee which covers the cost of some support services, and also means you’ll be given a student card which gets you discounts on shopping, event tickets and public transport costs. Private universities on the other hand, do charge fees. Check out the scholarship options available online, if you need to cover your costs.

Unfortunately though, it’s not just tuition fees that international students need to think about. You’ll have to also pay for rent, travel, books and daily life. Average cost of living prices in Norway are high compared to many other countries, so it’s worth investing time in researching ways to cut costs and manage your money while you’re away. More on that later.

Ready to apply? To get a place at a Norwegian university you must show you have the relevant qualifications from your home country. There’s a full list available online which is split by region showing which Australian qualifications are accepted².

Study Visa

When you’ve got your university place sorted out, it’s time to apply for your student permit. You’ll be able to start off the process online, creating an account and paying your fee upfront³,⁴.

Then you have to collect all of the documents required, and take them in person to one of the service centres which are located in Adelaide, Brisbane, Canberra, Melbourne, Perth and Sydney. Application centres are managed by VFS - and you can book an appointment online via their website⁵.

The precise documents you need depend on the type of study you want to do. There’s a helpful checklist online on the UDI (Directorate of Immigration)

  • Your valid passport, extra passport photos and copies of all used pages in the document
  • Proof of your paid application fee and application form
  • Letter of admission from your chosen institution
  • Proof that you can cover your living costs and any tuition fees required
  • Evidence that you have somewhere to live lined up in Norway

The paperwork is then passed to the Norwegian authorities for processing. You’ll be able to find details about the likely waiting time online, on the UDI website⁶.

One of the things you’re asked to prove, is that you can cover your living costs when in Norway. At present the amount required is the equivalent of just under $20,000 a year. You’ll be asked to show you either have this money saved in a Norwegian account, have support from scholarships and grants, or you have a part time job which will cover you expenses.

Cost of studying in Norway

As we have noted, tuition fees in Norway could be negligible. However, the cost of living there is typically rather high. The type of lifestyle you enjoy will make a big difference to the amount you have to spend to survive - as will where in the country you live. Choosing university accommodation rather than looking on the open market for an apartment may be a good way to cut costs, for example.

Here’s a rundown of some common costs you should consider.

Daily costIndicative price
Rent - 1 bedroom apartment in the city centre, OsloAUD2,000
Rent - 1 bedroom apartment in the city centre, BergenAUD1,500
Month travel ticketAUD120
Mcdonald’s mealAUD17
Cinema ticketAUD22

A great way to build a picture of the costs for your lifestyle in Norway is the use the Numbeo website⁷. Numbeo users submit data about the costs of daily life, rent, transport and more, in their part of the world. This builds a dynamic and up to date picture of the prices you’ll encounter and lets you compare cities against each other based on cost.

Universities in Norway

There are 4 universities in Norway which feature in the global world rankings - these are⁸:

  • University of Oslo
  • University of Bergen
  • Norwegian University of Science and Technology
  • University of Tromsø The Arctic University of Norway

These top ranked institutions are all large public universities. However, there are also many other universities to choose from, including smaller specialist institutions and private universities, many of which are well rated in their fields.

To give an example, Oslo is home to a number of specialist institutions like the BI Norwegian Business School, the Oslo School of Architecture and the Norwegian Academy of Music. Popular university town Bergen is where to go if you’re interested in marine biology, with the Norwegian Institute of Marine Research, as well as another strong business school - the Norwegian School of Economics.

You’ll find many of the large institutions offer courses in English - and you’ll also be able to get Norwegian lessons while you’re there.

Cut the costs of studying abroad with Wise

If you are looking for a way to send money to Norway, Wise could be an option. As we have explored, the cost of living in Norway can be high compared to other international study options. Make sure your money goes further by using Wise when you make payments for your rent or convert money from dollars to krone for the daily expenses you need to cover.

Wise international payments are made using the mid-market exchange rate, and you’ll just pay a low upfront fee. You can set up a transfer easily online, and could find it costs 16x less than using your regular bank.

For day to day money management when you’re in Norway, you might also benefit from the multi-currency borderless account from Wise. Hold your money in any of dozens of different currencies, and switch between them for a low fee, using the mid-market rate. Your account comes with a linked debit Mastercard, so you can top up using dollars, switch to krone and then spend like a local using your card. There’s no charge to spend currencies you have in the account, so this is a smart way of avoiding international payment charges.

If you have the opportunity to study in Norway you’re lucky. You’ll be able to experience a different way of life, make new friends and further your education in a progressive and interesting country. Invest some time in research first, to make sure you choose the perfect course and university for your interests - and enjoy!


  1. Study in Norway
  2. GSU List
  3. Student Residence Permit
  4. Residence Permit Documents
  5. Norway Visa Info
  6. Waiting Time
  7. Cost of Living Comparison
  8. Top Universities

All sources accurate as of 10 December 2019

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