More and more students from Norway are studying abroad. The Association of Norwegian Students Abroad (ANSA) website states that 21,300 are currently studying abroad in over 90 countries around the world. Since its formation in 1956, ANSA has helped Norwegian students study abroad by making the process stress-free and nearly free with Lånekassen financial support. Many of those students are excited to procure a job in the country where they study and possibly even settle down for years to come. However, a growing number of Norwegians are returning to their homeland in order to get better paying jobs and benefits.
According to the Norwegian newspaper Aftenposten, approximately one in every ten Norwegian students were studying abroad between 2012 and 2013. The most popular destinations include the UK, the US, Australia, Denmark and Poland. Following graduation most of those students did not stay to work. They are coming home to Norway, finding jobs, settling down and raising families. Recent data from the Nordic Institute for Studies in Innovation (Nordisk institutt for studier av innovasjon, forskning og utdanning – NIFU) found that less than 20% of Norwegians who study abroad still live in those countries three years later. That is much lower than students from Denmark and Finland.
The students surveyed by NIFU say they wanted to study away from Norway for their higher education and over half them believed they would stay and work after their schooling was over for possibly 3-5 years. They figured they would return to Norway at some point but they never thought it would end up being so soon. NIFU researcher, Jannacke Wiers-Jenssen said that, “there are far more who plan to stay abroad, than those who actually do it.” The job market, the visa process and the benefits in countries abroad are tough and most recent Norwegian graduates don’t think it’s worth the trouble.
There are legitimate reasons for coming back to Norway. The benefits of living and working in Norway are simply too hard to pass up.
- The job market is very good in Norway with an average of a 3.5% unemployment rate.
- There is a high standard of living in Norway even though it is considered one of the most expensive countries in the world. However, it is also considered one of the happiest countries in the world with an average salary much higher than the rest of the world.
- There is no designated minimum wage in Norway because each employer can decide what to pay. However, to give you an idea, McDonald’s pays their employees an average of $18 an hour.
- An average work week in Norway is 37 hours and vacation days are paid and encouraged.
- Starting a family soon? Then heading back to Norway is a no brainer. The welfare benefits for new parents are out of this world. Not only are health insurance, education and social security free in Norway’s “cradle to grave” welfare system, so are parental benefits. New parents can receive 100% of their income for 49 weeks leave or 80% of their income for 59 weeks of leave after their child is born.
Wiers-Jenssen thinks the number of Norwegian graduates working abroad will soon go up as the number of Norwegian students studying abroad rises. In referring to Norway, she adds that, “We have good support programs, something which in practice means that ‘everyone’ can go. In some other countries the financing is worse.” Norwegian students are lucky to have those opportunities and still come home to good jobs and good benefits. It is no wonder they are traveling the world then ending up right back at home. After all, who wouldn’t want to live in one of the happiest countries in the world?