Norway being out-educated

From fifth place in 2007, now Norway’s populace is 10th most educated

Norway being out-educated

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Pieter Wijnen
Norway Today

Other countries are catching up to Norway when it comes to the proportion of young persons with a higher education.

If the current development continues, the proportion of Norwegian 25- to 34-year-olds who have completed higher education will be below the average for Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) countries in the next four years.

“This is serious both for Norway’s competitiveness and for its adaptability,” says Minister for Research and Higher Education Iselin Nybø.

The OECD has looked at how Norwegian higher education and Norwegian universities and colleges fare compared with the other 35 OECD countries. By and large, Norway is faring well, but one area is highlighted as a challenge in particular:

Traditionally, Norway has been in the top when it comes to having a highly educated population. This may be changing if developments in the number of enrollments and completion of higher education continue as they are now.

In 2010, Norway was in fifth place in the OECD in terms of the share of 25- to 34-year-olds with completed higher education. In 2017, it dropped to 10th place.

“Norway is a high-cost country. It is, therefore, important to be able to compete on knowledge and quality. In addition, many future jobs will require higher education. A highly educated population is also important for the ability to restructure and further develop society,” Nybø said.

The report shows that the proportion with completed higher education in the age group 25-34 grew by 13% in Norway in the period 2007–2017, while it grew by 37% on average for the OECD countries.

“The completion of higher education is heading in the right direction. There are also more study places, but we are by no means at the finishing line. If we are to handle the gap that is about to happen between Norway and others, more must take higher education and complete the studies” Nybø said.

Norway’s government is now launching a parliamentary report on job relevance, where one of the goals is closer links between working life and education, among other measures, through more and better practice for students.

“It will improve the quality of the education, something which we hope will increase the motivation of young persons both to start studying and complete it,” Nybø said.

The OECD report shows that, overall, Norway is well placed compared with other countries. Among other things, Norway is praised for prioritizing and spending a lot of money on higher education. Norway spent 1.7% of its gross domestic product on higher education in 2015.

“We are at the very bottom when it comes to how much households spend on higher education. That’s because higher education is free. It must remain so! Fortunately, you do not need to be wealthy to be able to take higher education in Norway,” Nybø said.

Of other indicators the OECD is looking at, Norway is often cited in research publications from other countries. Norway is above the median in terms of the proportion of publications (among the 10% most cited). Norway also scores high on international research collaboration.

“This shows that there is high quality in Norwegian research,” Nybø said.

This article was originally published on Norway Today.

This article originally appeared in the June 28, 2019, issue of The Norwegian American.

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The Norwegian American

The Norwegian American is North America's oldest and only Norwegian newspaper, published since May 17, 1889.