Tuition Fees In Norway: Detailed Guide For 2023

The brand new tuition fees for non-EU/EEA students are beginning in the fall of 2023, and it’s going to be a big change for international students who have dreamt of coming to Norway to partake in the free university education it used to offer.

The fact of the matter is that the tuition fees are now in effect, and it seems extremely unlikely that they will be removed in the foreseeable future. We’re going to have to learn to live with them, so we are going to look closer at everything you need to know about the new tuition fees in Norway in this article.

So keep reading if you want to learn more about how high the tuition fees are, how to pay them, who needs to pay tuition fees, and how to study in Norway without paying.

The main building of NTNU
The main building of NTNU (Norwegian University of Science and Technology) in Trondheim. Photo by Eirik Refsdal / CC BY 2.0.

How much are the new tuition fees in Norway?

Each university is free to set their own tuition fee prices, but they are required to have it to be a real sum (making it impossible for universities to set it to cost 10 NOK to essentially make it free again).

The prices vary depending on several factors, and some degrees are much more expensive than others.

Generally speaking, degrees with huge auditoriums of students are pretty cheap, while degrees that require small groups of students (such as when working in a lab) are priced much higher. This is simply because staff costs and equipment costs are far higher for the latter group.

Not all universities have publicly declared their prices yet, but it seems that the new yearly tuition fee in Norway is between 80,000 NOK ($8,000) for the cheapest bachelor’s degrees, while the most expensive ones can cost as much as 490,000 NOK ($49,000).

That said, most degrees are in the 80,000 NOK to 150,000 NOK range, and those above are the extreme cases where you will require a lot of special equipment and things like that.

Keep in mind that all prices are per academic year (that consists of two semesters), so take the price and multiply it by two for regular master’s degrees, and by three for bachelor’s degrees.

The main entrance to University of South-Eastern Norway at campus Bø. Bø is one of the cheapest cities for international students in Norway.
The main entrance to University of South-Eastern Norway at campus Bø. Photo by Nicklas Iversen / The Norway

Who needs to pay tuition fees in Norway?

The new tuition fees only apply to certain nationalities, and people from the following group are exempt from having to pay a tuition fee:

  • Norwegian citizens.
  • EU citizens.
  • Citizens from other counties in EEA(European Economic Area), which basically means Iceland and Liechtenstein.
  • Citizens from Switzerland.

So if you don’t own a passport or have citizenship in one of those countries, you need to pay tuition fees.

This means that everyone from North America (yes, even including the US), South America, Africa, Australia and Asia need to pay full tuition fees to study in Norway.

For anyone that do fit into these groups, the education at a Norwegian university is almost free, just like before the tuition fees were implemented in 2023.

Domus media
Domus media is part of Universitetet i Oslo. Photo by Ryan Hodnett / CC BY-SA 4.0.

When to pay tuition fee

It seems that the universities are able to choose when you need to pay the tuition fees to study in Norway, but so far the consensus seem to be that most universities want to be paid the full amount before May 15.

This means that you need to pay the entire sum for the tuition fees before this date to secure a spot as a student, even though the education itself does not begin before August the same year.

Many students are baffled by this seeing as you don’t even have all the official documents like a student visa ready by this time, but it also seem like the deadline is non-optional, so you’ve got to be prepared to pay before this date if you want to study in Norway.

How to pay the tuition fees

The tuition fees are paid directly to the university where you are going to become a student. You will get an invoice from them if or when you are accepted to become a student there.

Other costs and fees required to be a student in Norway

If paying tuition fees is not enough, you obviously still need money to live on when you’re in Norway to study. And living in Norway is absolutely not cheap!

To make sure that foreign students can get by while studying in Norway, The Norwegian Directorate of Immigration (UDI) requires that you have 128,887 NOK (around $13,000) of spending money per year.

So in addition to the tuition fees, you need almost 130,000 NOK per year to live on in Norway, and you need to be able to document that you have both these living expenses as well as the tuition fees ready before you are granted a student visa.

This means that even the cheapest degrees will require you to have over 200,000 NOK ($20,000) per year to be able to study.

It’s also worth mentioning that you might need more than 130,000 NOK for a full year in Norway. This is only the minimum amount, which might be fine if you choose to study in the cheapest student cities, but it will absolutely not be enough if you are studying in places like Oslo, Bergen or Trondheim.

The reason for this is the rental costs. For example, a single bedroom apartment in Oslo costs over 10,000 NOK ($1,000) per month on average. With only 130,000 NOK for a year, that leaves you will little room to buy things like food (which I bet most of you probably need).

The Western Norway University of Applied Sciences campus in Førde
The Western Norway University of Applied Sciences campus in Førde. Photo by: Evolelov / CC BY-SA 4.0.

How to study in Norway without paying any tuition fees

There are a few ways for even non-EU/EEA students to be able to study in Norway without paying tuition fees to a Norwegian university, and that is by applying for a student exchange program. Let’s take a look at how you can study in Norway without paying tuition fee.

Sign up as a foreign exchange student

All student exchange programs that sends you to Norway for a half or a full year will still be free, since you will need to pay for your regular university in this time. This means that you can study in Norway for free if you are an exchange student from a university without tuition fees.

You need to apply to a university in another country that offers a student exchange program with a Norwegian university to be able to do this, but there are hundreds of these scattered all over the world, so it should not be too difficult to find one somewhat near you.

Be enrolled to a Norwegian university before 2023

If you already studied in Norway prior to the implementation of the new tuition fees, you are allowed to finish your degree without paying tuition fees.

For people who have studied in Norway for one year, then you might be entitled to finish another one or two more years before you even need to pay tuition fees.

It is still uncertain if you are able to finish “old” degrees that have been abandoned for a few years.

Be married to a Norwegian citizen

If you’re married to a Norwegian citizen, then you can also study for free without paying any tuition fees.

You will need to prove that it’s not a marriage of convenience though, so I would not recommend this path if you’re just after free education.

Do you need to pay tuition fees for PhD positions in Norway?

PhD positions in Norway are paid positions that are considered a type of job, so they will not require a tuition fee.

Instead, expect to get paid about 450,000 NOK to 500,000 NOK per year if you get a PhD position in Norway. So that’s still a pretty sweet deal compared to in most other countries.

The downside is that you also got to be doing some teaching, and using up to 4 years instead of the usual 3. The way PhD positions are structured is that you get hired for 4 years, then are supposed to spend roughly 1 of these years as a teacher or lecturer for bachelor’s and master’s students.

The main building at NTNU in Gjøvik
The main building at NTNU in Gjøvik. Photo by Premeditated / CC BY-SA 4.0.

What the future of tuition fees are like

The new tuition fees that were implemented in the national budget of 2023 have faced a lot of backlash from most student organizations, the universities and many other groups and organizations.

So can we expect the tuition fees to be revered?

So far it seems unlikely that the tuition fees will be reverted. The government responsible for implementing it are also the ones who have historically opposed it, so it seems highly unlikely that even a change in the sitting government can make it change back to being free again.

There are a few parties like Socialist Left and Red who are trying to revert the change, but these are small parties with little power currently.

I would personally not hold my breath on hoping it will be reverted, but I guess we can all hope for the best.

Some lawyers have speculated if it’s even legal to make such a big change in a national budget without making an accompanying law, so this is potentially something that will need to be looked further into by someone who knows what they’re talking about.

The entrance to the University of Stavanger
The entrance to the University of Stavanger. Photo published with permission.

Frequently asked questions about the tuition fee in Norway

How much is the tuition fee in Norway?

The tuition fee in Norway is roughly between 80,000 NOK ($8,000 USD) and 150,000 NOK ($15,000 USD) per academic year. However, some educations are much more expensive, such as engineering, dentistry, medicine and more.

Who need to pay tuition fees in Norway?

All foreigners from outside of any EEA country (or Switzerland) need to pay full tuition fees to become a student in Norway.

When are the new tuition fees in effect?

The new tuition fees for foreigners at Norwegian universities will begin to take effect at the start of the academic year in 2023 (which is in August 2023).

Do existing students need to pay tuition fees?

Anyone who begun their degree at a Norwegian university can finish the degree without paying the tuition fees in the coming years. So this change will not affect existing students at all.
However, you will need to pay tuition fees if you finish a bachelor’s degree and want to pursuit a master’s degree in the same field.

Are there any universities that still offer free education in Norway?

All universities are required by the Norwegian government to demand tuition fees, and they are unfortunately not even allowed to offer very cheap or free degrees.

Do UK citizens have to pay tuition fees at universities in Norway?

Generally speaking, UK citizens need to pay tuition fees to study at a Norwegian university. There’s an exception for people who have lived in Norway since before Brexit.

Do permanent resident holders need to pay tuition fees?

You do not need to pay tuition fees to Norwegian universities if you hold a permanent Norwegian residency.

Do you have any more questions about the student fees in Norway? Let me know in the comment section below, and I will get back to you shortly!

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