Bachelor student Arthur Gierach is on exchange here from the University of Saskatchewan. He is in Tromso to study his fields of choice: arctic biology and ecosystems. To him, the choice was easy:
“When I first became interested in doing an exchange program, I was quickly introduced to the opportunity of doing some of my studies at Northern universities. The idea of going to the world’s northernmost university was exciting. The University of Tromsoe also has a number of respected researchers in all sorts of fields, from arctic ecology to conflict resolution,” he says.
Arthur also received a scholarship from the Norwegian Fellowship Program for studies in the High North. This helped pay for his trip to Norway and most of his accommodation expenses while in Tromsoe. He also found the city’s student culture very appealing – and more international than he expected.
“The main difference between student life here in Tromsoe compared to Saskatoon is the number of international students and their influence on the university. It is not uncommon to see many different nationalities of students when you walk the building at the UiT. Being so close to nature, it also seems that the students here are involved in many unique outdoor activities such as surfing and Kite-skiing.”
The Norwegian Fellowship Program for studies in the High North is available to students from Canada. Each fellowship recipient receives a travel grant of approximately 1800 Canadian dollars, and a monthly stipend of approximately 1500 dollars. Institutions of higher education in Norway do not charge tuition fees from international students, and the stipend is intended to cover housing and living expenses.
To be eligible for the High North Fellowship Program, students must be registered at a higher education institution in Canada, and go to Norway as an exchange student. Only the seven institutions north of the Arctic Circle offer the scholarship to students from Canada. In addition to UiT and UNIS, these include Bodoe University College, Harstad University College, Narvik University College, Finnmark University College and the Sami University College.
Andrea Bozman is another Canadian who received a scholarship from the Fellowship Program for studies in the High North. She spent one semester as an exchange student at Bodoe University College in 2009, while studying fisheries and aquaculture at Vancouver Island University.
“I knew Norway was a leader in aquaculture and associated research, but I did not realize how accessible it would be for me as an international student,” she says.
“As my first semester in Bodoe came to an end, I started thinking about my future goals. After returning to Canada, I reapplied to come back to Norway to continue my education.”
Going back to Norway wasn’t a hard choice for Andrea.
“Not only did I enjoy Norwegian way of life, and the beauty of the surrounding area. I was also greatly impressed by Bodoe University College, for different reasons: The staff to student ratio, the subjects offered and, most importantly, the diversity of ongoing research and the opportunity for students at all levels of post secondary education to partake in research activities.”
According to her, a field excursion to the arctic island of Svalbard for her marine ecology course was the highlight of her first semester in Norway.
“The trip was a rare opportunity for me to learn about the arctic environment and visit one of the most beautiful places in the world.”
Both Arthur and Andrea highly recommend studying in Northern Norway to other students from Canada.
“University life in Norway is really great. It is easy to find and meet new friends. The pace isn’t hectic and the people are very approachable and friendly”, Arthur says.
Andrea gives the following advice to fellow Canadians ready for a study experience in the High North:
“Be open to new things. Join a club that interests you. Try to learn some Norwegian – it’s not vital, but it can help a bit. Enjoy your time in Norway, as a student and as a foreigner!”
SIU – Senter for internasjonalisering av høgre utdanning/ Norwegian Centre for International Cooperation in Higher Education