Norway is one of the most expensive countries to live in, but it is famous for being an exceptionally safe democratic country. It is also considered one of the best places to live with its low crime rate, good healthcare services, high quality of life, and excellent gender equality rating.
Luckily, many excellent universities offer high-quality and free education even for international students. Here, we will look at such free universities in Norway for international students. However, non-EU students must acquire a visa to study in the country. To do so, they must show proof of financial capacity to support their living costs for the duration of their study program. The amount required is roughly NOK126,000 per year.
International students from warm or tropical countries may find the climate in Norway freezing in winter, but the beauty of snow-covered nature and the number of fun activities they can do while studying make the country an even more attractive academic destination. In addition, most people in Norway are fluent in English, and many universities do not require prospective students to learn the Norwegian language before admission.
Free Universities in Norway
1. The Arctic University of Norway
The Arctic University of Norway (UiT) in Tromsø was officially established in 1968, but planning began as early as 1918. The creation of various faculties in different locations resulted in the university having ten campuses: Alta, Bardufoss, Bodø, Hammerfest, Harstad, Kirkenes, Mo i Rana, Narvik, Svalbard, and Tromsø.
International students don’t have to pay tuition fees at this free university in Norway. However, they have to pay NOK625 per semester, and Uit does not offer any university-sponsored scholarships. Meanwhile, exchange students don’t have to pay the semester fee and benefit from living cost allowance from their respective exchange program organizations.
Prospective students can select from the wide range of courses offered at UiT under six faculties: Biosciences & Fisheries & Economics, Engineering Science & Technology, Health Sciences, Humanities & Social Sciences & Education, Law, and Science & Technology. The university also includes two areas of study under the Academy of Fine Arts: Music and Arts.
2. University of Agder
The University of Agder (UiA) traces its history back to 1828 with the establishment of the Kristiansand Museum. It became Agder Academy in 1962 and later Agder University College (HiA) in 1994. After numerous mergers and expansions, it officially became a university graced by HRH Crown Princess Mette-Marit of Norway in 2007 with two campuses in Kristiansand and Grimstad.
This free university in Norway hosts about 13,000 students under six faculties: Business & Law, Engineering & Science, Fine Arts, Health & Sports Science, Humanities & Education, and Social Sciences. It offers 20 undergraduate and postgraduate programs in English for international students. It sends out and welcomes around 300 exchange students under bilateral agreements with partner universities abroad.
The university boasts a high satisfaction rate among its students due to the excellent education quality and livable location. Both Kristiansand and Grimstad offer a wide array of fun activities along their vibrant coastlines and offer a relatively more affordable living cost than the rest of Norway. UiA also takes pride in the high employment rate among its graduates.
3. University of Stavanger
The University of Stavanger (UiS) is a free university in Norway launched in 2005 in the Stavanger region, where students can benefit from a vibrant and progressive area while enjoying the magnificent natural surroundings. It currently ranks among the top 401-500 universities according to the Times Higher Education rankings.
The iS is home to roughly 12,000 students, and 1,900 staff spread among 34 Bachelor’s, 60 Master’s, and 5 Ph.D. programs across six faculties: Arts & Education, Business School, Health Sciences, Performing Arts, Science & Technology, and Social Sciences.
International students don’t have to pay tuition fees but need to pay a semester fee, which is disclosed to successful applicants. The Student Services in Stavanger (SiS) offers housing assistance to international students for a smoother transition to life in Norway. The university emphasizes the need to present financial capacity to fund living costs during the study period and estimates NOK126,000 per academic year. It is necessary to acquire a Norwegian study permit.
4. University of Bergen
The University of Bergen (UiB) was founded in 1946 in Bergen—Norway’s second-largest city. It has since expanded to offer numerous undergraduate and postgraduate degree programs under seven faculties: Fine Art & Music & Design, Humanities, Law, Mathematics & Natural Sciences, Medicine, Psychology, and Social Sciences.
Students enrolled at UiB need to pay NOK590 per semester, which includes a contribution to the Norwegian Students’ and Academics’ International Assistance Fund (SAIH). Contribution is voluntary, and if they wish to be exempted from it, they may pay only NOK550. Exchange students, on the other hand, do not have to pay the semester fee.
Since 2013, the UiB has been hosting four Centers of Excellence (CoE) to promote innovative and internationally relevant research. The four CoEs include the Birkeland Center for Space Science, the Center for Cancer Markers, the Center for Early Sapiens Behavior, and the Center for Intervention Science for Maternal & Child Health.
5. The University Center in Svalbard
The University Center in Svalbard (UNIS) was established in Longyearbyen in 1993 by the Norwegian Ministry of Education and Research. It specializes in Arctic studies related to Biology, Geology, Geophysics, and Technology, taking advantage of its suitable geographical location.
As one of the free universities in Norway, UNIS does not charge tuition fees even to international students. However, all students must pay the NOK590 semester fee, and the university does not offer any scholarships. In addition, they may incur course-specific fees that may be used for equipment and lodging during fieldwork or other lesson-related activities.
The population at the University Center in Svalbard consists of 50% national and 50% international students and staff. All international students are offered to stay at any of the three student accommodations close to the university and advised to bring suitable winter clothes and gear as the temperature in the area can be as low as -14 to +6 degrees Celsius.