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Nordic Countries

EDUCATION MARKET SNAPSHOT

 

UNESCO

Denmark

Finland

Norway

Sweden

Total number of mobile students abroad[1]

5,117

10,0+33

18,806

17,281

Percent of population under 24 years of age[2]

29.24%

27.65%

30.36%

28.6%

Total population[3]

5,809,5025,537,3645,372,19110,040,995

Overview

The United States remains one of the most popular study destinations for Nordic students and number one outside the EU. Nordic students view studying abroad as an opportunity to enhance employability and improve transferable skills and they are motivated to travel abroad in some phases of their study. Generally, the completion of a degree from a U.S. educational institute is a desirable qualification on employment applications. Across the Nordics, there are a number of local educational agents and organizations offering programs to young students wishing to go to the US.
 
The Nordic educational systems range from strong to world renowned, nearly all children are enrolled in public schools. All Nordic countries rate around or above the OECD average in nearly every category (PISA, 2015), and there are seven universities in the region among the world’s top 100 (2018[4]). Pupils with strong academic abilities often select a secondary education where they can focus on languages, sciences, math or similar subjects to prepare them for university. However, Nordic graduates from secondary education often chose not to directly continue their studies at university or college, but rather tend to take 1 or 2 gap years first.
 
Higher education is also tax funded in Sweden, Norway, Denmark and Finland and thus essentially free of charge for eligible residents and financial support and benefits are available to those wishing to pursue a higher education. The structure of grants also transfers abroad (with local variations/limitations due to, for instance parents’ incomes, degree level, commencement and terms of studies (part- or fulltime; maximum amounts, etc)), creating a potential for Nordic students to pursue their education elsewhere. Below are the country specific financial details:
 

 
 Sweden[5]Norway[6]Denmark[7]Finland [8]
Maximum Grants and Loans including additional funding for studies abroad or higher tuition fees
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 
~$ 15,600 per Academic year
(SEK 138,900)
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 
~$ 40,600 per Academic year
(NOK 349,555)
 

 
~$ 13,400 per Academic year (DKK 92,060)
 
Plus an additional $6,400 - 17,400 (DKK 44,100 - 119,700) if the entire program is abroad. For students that have maximized their financial aid, yet another additional loan of $12,000 is available for the last 12 months of their last year studies
~$ 15,400 per Academic year
(EUR 14,220)
 
 

 
IRS average rate of exchange 2017[9] for 1 USD = 8.894 SEK/8.606 NOK/6.864 DKK/0.923 EUR

Sub-Sectors

In Sweden, the number of exchange students has remained relatively constant since 2011/12 with 1,100-1,200 students/year. Starting in 2018, Sweden has reinstated a military basic education for both men and women. While participation is mainly on a voluntary basis, this could potentially impact the number of applicants for studies abroad.
 
Every year more than 9,500  Finnish university exchange students spend a semester or a whole academic year abroad; 350-400 of them choose to study at a U.S. higher education institution. 

Higher Education

Denmark[10]
 
Denmark had a total of 199,408 domestic students and 5,205 students studying abroad in the calendar year 2017
 
Danish students in the U.S.
Academic Level2016/20172017/2018% Change
Undergraduate547495-9.50
Graduate219216-1.40
Non-Degree658628-4.60
OPT668427.30
 
Finland[11]
Finland had a total of 262,368 domestic students and 19,174 students studying abroad in the calendar year 2017
 
Finnish students in the U.S.
Academic Level2016/20172017/2018% Change
Undergraduate403395-2.00
Graduate138132-4.30
Non-Degree14017424.30
OPT566719.60
 
Norway[12]
 
Norway had a total of 243,638 domestic students and 24,807 students studying abroad in the calendar year 2017
 
Norwegian students in the U.S.
Academic Level2016/20172017/2018% Change
Undergraduate1,3991,269-9.30
Graduate302296-2.00
Non-Degree387380-1.80
OPT205160-22.00
 
Sweden[13]
 
Sweden had a total of 367,900 domestic students and 26,400 students studying abroad in the calendar year 2017.
 
Swedish students in the U.S.
Academic Level2016/20172017/2018% Change
Undergraduate2,5712,170-15.60
Graduate381329-13.60
Non-Degree669636-4.90
OPT432408-5.60
 
Totals
 
Total of Swedish, Norwegian, Danish and Finnish students in the U.S.
Academic Level2016/20172017/2018% Change
Undergraduate4,9204,329
 
-13.70
Graduate1,040973-6.90
Non-Degree1,8541,818-2.00
OPT759719-5.60
TOTAL8,5737,839
 
-9.40

Undergraduate

Most Nordic students studying in the United States do so at the undergraduate level. With the exception of Finland, this is also the category that has declined the most in the recent year. While Associate Degree courses are popular, there is no Nordic equivalent to the U.S. Associate Degree, and upon returning to their home countries, not all U.S. credits are approved for further studies in the Nordics. Therefore, a non-trade/vocational Associate Degree is a less interesting option for a Nordic student unless they intend to continue to pursue higher education either in the U.S. or elsewhere.

Community College

Many U.S. Community Colleges are represented by numerous educational agents in the Nordics and likely those that draw the largest percentage of Nordic students due to comparatively low costs, among other reasons. According to a recent report[14] by the Swedish Board of Student Finance (CSN), the most popular programs 2010-2012 were the General Program and Economics. This report also states that in 2017, 1,200 Swedish students studied at Community Colleges in the U.S, of which 70 percent were between 18-22 years of age.

Graduate Education

With the exception of Finland, the percentage decrease for graduate students is less than for undergraduate. About 86 percent of students in Denmark continue a master's degree within one year after completion of a bachelor's degree. 

Secondary Education 

Due to the difference in educational systems between the U.S. and Nordic countries, the demand for secondary education in the U.S. is limited. Denmark is an exception, as the interest for high-school exchange is quite high in Denmark.
 
Nor is financial aid available for high school studies abroad. Since U.S. high school credits generally are non-transferable to Nordic high schools, students need to redo the grade upon returning to the Nordics. Norway is the exception to this rule, as credits can be considered and approved, but need to be confirmed in advance with the student’s Norwegian school. A high school year in the US can be integrated into a Norwegian diploma, but not into a Danish, Finnish or Swedish diploma.

Online Programs 

Nordic students tend to take advantage of the free online education platform available for them through their university enrollment. In Sweden in 2015/16, 71,000 students were enrolled exclusively in online education. Online education is mostly dominated by individual courses and not entire programs. Online education has accounted for 12 – 15 % of all education between 2017/18 and 2016/17[15].

Research and Development

Below follow some of the most well-known programs for research and development between the U.S. and the Nordic countries:
 
American Scandinavian Foundation                         
Thanks to Scandinavia Scholarship                                            www.thankstoscandinavia.org 
 
Denmark
 
The Denmark-America Foundation                                          
Fulbright Center Denmark                                                           
 
Finland
 
Fulbright Finland                                                                             
Björn Savén's Finnish American Scholarship         

Norway
Aker Scholarship                                                                              
Noram Scholarships                                                                       
 
Sweden
Fulbright Sweden                                                                           
The Sweden America Foundation 

Professional Training Services

Finland
 
Studies at the Finnish Universities of Applied Sciences are popular. Students usually graduate directly into a job related to their course of study. Studies are offered in Finnish, Swedish or English and many of the schools offer full education programs in English. Finland also scores high among OECD countries on measures of the development and use of highly skilled workers. At present, about 5,000 workers take training leave every year. The most popular professional training services include management training and courses for entrepreneurs, ICT, accounting, and marketing. The demand for professional training service programs abroad is currently small and not very common among Finnish workers and companies.
 
Sweden
 
In 2017, there were 50,300 students enrolled in higher vocational training coordinated by the Swedish National Agency for Higher Vocational Education. The objective of these programs is to meet the labor market’s needs for qualified workforce. The programs combine theoretical and practical learning with strong ties to businesses, changing with time according to the needs of the labor market[16]

Opportunities

Nordic students are generally highly literate, proficient in English, have an open, international mind-set and are interested in travel and engaging with other cultures. The EU (incl Denmark, Finland and Sweden, but not Norway) goal is that, by 2020, 20 % of all students should have experience from exchange studies or internship abroad when they graduate[17].  
 
Many Nordic students are attracted by the characteristics of American university life. The life painted through media in the last century holds promise of collegial activities such as a playful environment with inspiring and high standard learning.
 
Language studies have been popular in the Nordics for a long time and with the nature of the globalized economy, it is increasingly important for Nordic students to gain international experience and strong language skills in English. However, many Nordic students have very high levels of English knowledge and will therefore not be as attracted to basic English classes. In the very fitness and sports oriented Nordic societies, college sports are an area for elite youths looking for scholarships in the U.S.
 
Exchange agreements where tuition can be severely reduced or eradicated is attractive for Nordic students that want to partake in the American college experience as well as improve their English language skills. Exchange agreements likely explain the reason for the increase in the number of Swedish exchange students, which according to a report from the Swedish Council for Higher Education[18] has increase by 4% and the decline in free-movers by 3% in the latest academic year. Engineering, and Business and Management are the two most popular study fields for Finnish students in the United States. In Norway, the one-year LLM program in the U.S. is of interest to Norwegian law students wishing to gain expertise in a specialized field of law.

Events

College Days Scandinavia                                                                              www.collegedaysfairs.org
 
Denmark

EDU days

Copenhagen, February 5-6, 2019
Aarhus - February 5-6, 2019
www.edu-days.dk/
 
Finland
 
Educa Helsinki
Trade fair for education and pedagogy
Helsinki, January 25-26, 2019
https://educa.messukeskus.com/?lang=en
 
Studia Finland’s largest youth study and career event
Helsinki, November 28-29, 2019
https://studia.messukeskus.com/?lang=en

Norway

Ta Utdanning 2019
Kristiansand 14 – 15 January
Stavanger 21 – 22 January
Bergen 24 – 25 January
Trondheim 31 January – 1 February
Tromsø 7 – 8 February
Oslo 13 – 14 February
www.tautdanning.no/uk/
 
Sweden
 
Saco Student Fair 2019
The largest event for post-secondary education in Sweden
Dates TBD generally late November-early December in Stockholm and Malmö
https://www.saco.se/en/saco-student-fairs/
 
Some individual education agents arrange their own education fairs as well.

Resources

Denmark Finland

The Social Insurance Institution in Finland, KELA  www.kela.fi
Norway Sweden
 American Chamber of Commerce www.amcham.se
EducationUSA
https://educationusa.state.gov/

 

U.S. Commercial Service Contacts

Maria Norsk Deichmann, Commercial Specialist
U.S. Commercial Service – Denmark
Email: Maria.Norsk@trade.gov
Phone number: +45 3341 7315
 
Mia Mäki, Senior Commercial Specialist
U.S. Commercial Service – Finland
Email: mia.maki@trade.gov
Phone number: +358 9 6162 5289
 
Heming Bjorna, Senior Commercial Specialist
U.S. Commercial Service – Norway
Email: Heming.bjorna@trade.gov
Phone number: +47 21308760 | Cell: +47 99609997
 
Nancy Bjorshammar, Commercial Specialist
U.S. Commercial Service – Sweden
Email: nancy.bjorshammar@trade.gov 
Phone number: +46 8 783 5347
 
[1] UNESCO Student Mobility number
[2] CIA World Factbook
[3] CIA World Factbook, est per July 2018

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Denmark Education Trade Development and Promotion