The members of Group 1 expressed their happiness after receiving the first prize. Photo: Nancy Le/Panorama
The members of Group 1 expressed their happiness after receiving the first prize. Photo: Nancy Le/Panorama

A third do not interact with Norwegians

According to a new report, a third of international students in Norway rarely or never interact with Norwegian students. In Molde they are trying to close the gap.

Publisert Oppdatert

In Norwegian Centre for International Cooperation in Education’s (SIU) fifth report on international students’ perception of Norway as a study destination, the study finds that there is room for improvement.

The report looks at the degree to which international students interact with Norwegian students, co-nationals and international students.

— The findings show that only one out of four international students say they interact daily with Norwegian students, and that 29 per cent report that they rarely or never interact with Norwegian students, the report says, continuing:

— In fact, «getting to know Norwegians» is ranked as the second biggest challenge among international students, surpassed with one percentage point by «high cost of living».

Language is a barrier

It is very important that students meet the first week, in the beginning when everyone wants to meet new people.

Daniel Hernández Iniesta

Daniel Hernández Iniesta, National President of the International Students’ Union of Norway (ISU) held an introduction at the SIU breakfast meeting Friday, where the report was presented. There he explained the challenges between international students and Norwegians, and how they work to solve it.

— Language is sometimes an excuse for not meeting someone that you do not know. But when you break this barrier it becomes easier, he says to Khrono.

— It is very important that students meet the first week, in the beginning when everyone wants to meet new people.

Failing corrective

At Molde University College (HiMolde) the get-together party for the first-year master’s students has become somewhat of a tradition.

— After three consecutive years of the get-together party for the first-year master’s students, no one can deny that the event is benefitting relations between international and Norwegian students. However, there is still a significant gap, writes Nancy Le in Panorama.

The event is held by the new Student Representative Board with the aim to break the ice between Norwegian and international students.

Associate professor Arild Hoff was happy about this year’s number of participants - more than a half of the people that were invited showed up.

However, second-year master’s international students who attended the similar event last year admitted that they still could not get closer to their Norwegian classmates.

Norwegians are much more shy

— International students interact most frequently with other international students: Almost three out of five interact with other international students on a daily basis. Those who interact frequently with Norwegian students at the educational institutions, also have more contact with Norwegians during their leisure time, says the SIU report.

According to Nancy Le in Molde, some students argue that the divide is because of housing:

— While international students like the sharing and caring atmosphere of apartments in Kvam, Norwegian students prefer more private spaces and being alone, she writes, adding:

— They live in the student housing offered on Molde campus and Glombo, or using the private housing market in Molde, where they don’t need to share the kitchen or bathroom.

Le describes one new exchange student admitting that «I am shy, but I feel Norwegian are much more shy than me».

— After two months at HiMolde, she and her friends are struggling, trying their best to befriend Norwegian students, writes Le.

Should not be separate student bodies

ISU-president Iniesta sees it as a problem that international students are not as included in the introduction week, but also that events for international students should to a greater extent include Norwegian students.

— They should be in the same groups from the start, he says.

— What is the value for Norwegian students in getting to know international students?

— Some Norwegian students are not able to go abroad, and they can get internationalization at home. And having hesitant Norwegians getting to know new cultures, and getting to know education systems in other countries, also gets them more inclined to go abroad, Iniesta concludes.

The report is not all bad

According to the report, three out of four of the international students who participated in the survey had education in Norway as their first choice. The most important motivating factor is English taught degree programmes and courses followed by Norwegian nature and un-spoilt countryside/environmental focus.

— However, an analysis of the students’ individual answers to an open-ended question shows that the educational qualities of the Norwegian higher education institutions are more frequently cited as motivating factors than national qualities such as ‘Norwegian nature’ and ‘un-spoilt countryside’, says the report.

High level of satisfaction

The results from the survey show an overall high level of satisfaction with the education that the international students receive in Norway: 71 per cent are satisfied with the teaching, and 84 per cent are satisfied with the teachers’ ability to teach in English.

69 per cent of the respondents are satisfied with the study environment. The satisfaction with feedback on the student’s work and individual student counseling is lower at 52 per cent. This is, according to the report, similar to findings among Norwegian students.

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