8,644 international students were studying in Norway universities in 2017, according to the official statistics, reports the MastersDegree.net Statistics Portal.

Norway is one of the very few countries left whose universities carry no tuition fees for international students. But in spite of offering free education for foreigners, the Norway higher education witnessed a slight drop in the number of international students in recent years.

According to these figures, taken from the official statistics institution, in 2016 a number of 9,385 international students in total were seeking a degree in Norway. During the next year, 741 or 8% less foreign students were studying in the Nordic country.

As expected, EU students amounted for the largest part of these international students, particularly Swedish students. Always referring to these statistics, in 2016, 4,419 Europeans shared 47% of the total number of foreigners in universities. Asian students were the other group of students that counted for the highest share with 2,871 students. A year later, in 217 Europeans amounted to 49% of them or 4236 students.

For the Norway government has been very surprising why the number of international students is not increasing, knowing that its higher education is for free and is of a high quality. They already have started working on establishing a national education strategy which would attract a larger number of international students to the country.

As part of these actions, the government has early in 2018 commissioned an investigation with the purpose of revealing why these figures struggle to increase. What they found was that international students are attracted to tuition-free education, but hesitate because of application procedures. In response to this, the Norway government is working on reforming the admission system. In addition to a national admission system, the government is urging universities for an increase of English taught courses.