...from "development aid" to potential resources.

More and more international students come to Norway to study. Since the early 90’s the numbers have increased every year. In total 25 685 international students came to Norway in 2015.

Today we look at recruiting international students as a means to remain economically competitive. But it has not always been this way. In the 1990’s recruiting international students was looked as development aid and as international solidarity. In 2006 this changed, at least in our national strategy, and international students were seen as potential talents and resources for the Norwegian labour market.

There are several reasons why Norway recruits and should recruit even more international students to Norway. 

International students are:

- potential ambassadors for Norway

- good help in recruiting future students from their home countries

- potential employees

- generating future international co-operation

- a source of income to the higher educational institutions

The study (Integrating Global Talent in Norway from 2013) found that over 60% of the international students that came to Norway to study was employed in Norway after their studies. Out of the PhDs that came to Norway about 40% was employed after graduation. 60% of the international students that were employed got their first job in the Eastern part of Norway, And 50% of these again started working in Oslo. 

Whereas the level of international students getting a job after graduation in Norway has increased with a factor three from 2003 to 2010, the level of foreign high skilled workers has increased with a factor seven. As such there are more than three times as many foreign high skilled workers getting a job in Norway in 2010 compared to international students. There is thus a large potential in having more international students joining the work force in Norway after their graduation. One could also ask if it would be a better investment to have more international students staying on and work in Norway after graduation than having to search abroad for high skilled workers.                                                

Further, Norway has invested in the international students by offering them an education, and the students have already spent years getting familiar with the Norwegian society and hopefully socialis- ing with Norwegians. As such the internationals students should be easier to integrate in the work force as global talents.

Thus, it will make good sense to focus more on getting these students to stay in Norway instead of primarily prioritising the inflow of foreign high skilled labour, who will have a longer period of adapting to Norwegian way of working and living as oppose to the students who have been here at least for two years. 

                              - Integrating Global Talent in Norway: Statistical Report - 23/04/13. Study sponsored by Abelia Akademikerne, The Research Council, NHO, Tekna and SIU

So how can we as a city get even more international students to stay? And how can we make Norwegian companies and organisations to hire more international students after their graduation?

The SIU report “International students in Norway” shows that international students that come to Oslo has an overall high level of satisfaction. 69% of the students are happy with the study environment. But there is room for improvement! Only1 out of 4 international students interact with Norwegian students, co-nationals and international students. And “getting to know Norwegians” is ranked as the second biggest challenge among international students. 

According to a survey in 2014 looking at how to profile the Oslo Region internationally, Oslo has room for improvement when it comes to hosting and welcoming internationals. 

So, though many decide to stay, a high per cent of the international students and knowledge workers here strive to find a sense of belonging. 

#WhyOslo aims to look into why and how. What makes it difficult being here? What can we as Norwegians do to help? And what do we need to change within our systems to make it easier to attract and retain global talent?