Norway is not only well-known for its majestic fjords and icy beauty, but also its high quality of living and top-notch education.

So much so that foreign students in the Scandinavian country have awarded it top marks in this year’s international student satisfaction awards.

StudyPortals released the results recently, based on 15,965 online reviews submitted by international students who studied abroad in Europe in the 2015/16 academic year.

Source: StudyPortals

Norway was given a score of 9.26 out of 10, followed closely by last year’s top scoring country, Ireland, with 9.19, while Poland made the top three for the first time, with a score of 9.09.

Speaking to The PIE News, StudyPortals’ Manon Bolderman said that Norway’s score was just slightly ahead of Ireland’s, but it was only a matter of time before it claimed the top spot, as it “has always performed well in terms of international student satisfaction”.

However, she added that in the past year, recent changes in Norway’s higher education system, including university mergers, “might have something to do with students in general being happier with the new system”.

Five Norwegian universities were formed from mergers between existing institutions in an effort to improve the country’s standing in higher education and research.

According to the reviews written by international students, the wide range of courses taught in English, helpful and knowledgeable faculty members, a welcoming student community, and scenic natural wonders were all factors which helped Norway clinch the title.

Poland had one of the highest climbs up in the list – last year, it was in sixth place with a score of 8.85, while this year, nabbed third place, with an increase of 0.24.

Regarding Poland’s improvement in student satisfaction, Bolderman said: “Polish universities are becoming more well known amongst European students, and the universities are very well prepared to welcome the students.”

In their reviews, students regularly cited Poland’s lively student setting, charming cities, friendly people, and low living expenses as the most attractive aspects.

Among the students who participated in the survey, French students were the most satisfied with their time studying overseas, giving their experience an average score of 9.03.

Image via StudyPortals

Italian students were also generally happy with their study abroad experience, awarding it an average score of 8.98.

However, students from Finland and the Netherlands were the least satisfied, which was likely due to the high-quality education back in their home countries, which made their standards much higher, explained Bolderman.

“Since Finnish and Dutch universities usually offer quite a high teaching quality and great student experience, it can be that Finnish and Dutch students have really high expectations when going abroad, which some of the host countries can simply not live up to,” she said.

Up to 153 European universities qualified for an award, which required over 20 student reviews and an average score between 8 to 10.

Institutions with an average rating of 9.5 or higher received the “Award for Outstanding International Student Satisfaction”, and this year, a total of 14 universities were presented the award, including: University College Cork (Ireland), Wrocław University of Technology (Poland), University of Heidelberg (Germany), University of Oslo (Norway), and University of Murcia (Spain).

Overall, most international students were “very satisfied” with their study abroad experience, awarding it an average score of 8.8, which is a slight increase from last year’s score of 8.6, while only 7.3 percent of all respondents gave scores of 6 or below.

Spain was the most represented among winning countries, with 27 of its institutions receiving praise, which StudyPortals attributed to its active involvement in the Erasmus student exchange scheme.

Image via Unsplash

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