Norwegian Students Flock to Bali

Who would not want to study abroad and for example on a tropical destination like Bali and study in your own native language just as if the studies would be at a university in your home country?

For Norwegian students this is no dream but a reality, thanks to some Norwegians who came up with idea of moving the national education abroad – and pioneered the concept on Bali of all the places.

Ever since, Gateway College (with head office in Oslo) takes students to metropolitan cities and faraway places in order to get a better international understanding while avoiding any obstacles that studies at a foreign university could mean. Bali is however where they have operated the longest.

Bali alone attracted in total 533 Norwegian students during the spring semester 2010 of which the majority studied at Gateway College. There are in total four institutions offering Norwegian courses on Bali; the others being Go Study, Active Education, and Kulturakademiet offering pre-university courses and studies in  philosophy, psychology, cross-cultural communication, cultural psychology, social anthropology, social environment, journalism, tourism management, sport and Indonesian language.

The reason for choosing Bali the founder of Gateway College came in touch with a Balinese and they conjured up the idea of trying to setting up institutions for Norwegian studies outside the country in order to offer to get to meet other cultures,” explains Ivar Schou, Director of Studies and lecturer in philosophy at their Bali entity.

“Then they got Arne Næss, the famous Norwegian philosopher, on board with an idealistic background and a wish to make meetings between different peoples easier and promote cross-cultural understanding.”

Said and done and the first students were sent to Bali in 1993, to what was at that time named De Norske Studiesentra. Arne Næss came along as the first lecturer and constituted an important pillar of support, described as “a man who greatly inspired our continuing work”.

Eventually the Arne Næss Centre for Ecology and Philosophy in 2002 changed name to Gateway College and the operation has expanded to nine campuses worldwide where students get a unique opportunity to combine Norwegian university studies in other exciting cultures.

Studying on Bali with its Indonesian culture, students get deeper knowledge of cross-cultural communication and multi-cultural understanding. Free language studies in Indonesian is being offered to all Gateway College students on Bali.

Courses in Examen Philosophicum and Examen Facultatum (both obligatory subjects within most Bachelor educations in Norway) are among the most popular study programmes and were also the first offered on Bali.

The study institutions offering Norwegian university studies abroad caters to a need among Norwegians who would otherwise be reluctant to go overseas for studies because of language barriers and as they can get an education according to the standards for Norwegian university education, according to the Director of studies.

All study programs are partly taught in Norwegian, partly assisted by local employees.

In practice all study programmes are arranged in cooperation with four university colleges in Norway that have the academic responsibility: curriculum, evaluation and final examinations of all Gateway College students, including giving final grade transcripts.

“So you take one part of a programme at a university and a discipline, for example psychology, and place it here and we fulfil the teaching. As the director I follow the lecturers all the way and oversee. Then we have speakers from the universities in Norway. And when we have exams in the end of the semester here, a person in charge is sent here to oversee the exams and close the term. So we collaborate closely with the universities sending lecturers and representatives of the respective institutions to quality-control the exams.”

“Those we collaborate are very satisfied. We are well structured here with a good management, good teachers and happy students. So they are seeing this as fruitful and the result among the students is just as good here as if they had been studying in Norway,” he replies about the results.

All students in are eligible for financial support from Norwegian State Educational Loan Fund (NSELF) and they achieve 30 credit points each semester (Norwegian higher education system).

The longest period one can study at Gateway College Bali is two years, while most stay for up to a year.

Located in beautiful Jimbaran, on Kedonganan Beach the student’s centre is Gateway Café, located just 50 metres from the beach. Gateway College Bali has built its own campus, including class rooms and a new sports centre with and auditorium. Several rooms in a hotel complex are also used.

The students are spread out but many also live in a hotel 5 minutes from the campus. Some also use the on Bali so common ‘home stay’ alternative.

The opportunity to study on the tropical, Hindu island has become increasingly popular – to extent that the education facilitator are being forced to consider implementing certain criteria in order to qualify for applying, alternatively setting a maximum quota.

“Also thinking of the local community it cannot be too much pressure on one single area. In order to expand further my suggestion will be to expand by building several centres here on southern Bali so we don’t make a too large footprint in one place,” says the director.

The existing premises are not fitted to cater to more students than they already have.

 “When the organization was founded there was a also a wish to get insights into cultures one become part of and to give something back to the local community, and not only to be a one-way directed programme but to also have guest lecturers from the university here on Bali. We collaborate with Udayana University here on Bali. And that will be expanded.”

But Ivar Schou also ponders other expansion plans:
“I also have a wish to establish a programme in the English language, so we could have students from all over the world. But the programme would be in English and then Indonesian students could also join that programme.”

In conclusion, the abundance of blond Norwegians seen here and there on the island will continue to come – and most certainly in increasing numbers.

In the spring of 2010 the four Norwegian institutions were also honoured with a Certificate of Appreciation from the Indonesian Embassy as a result of their work to boost closer people-to-people relation between our two countries.

About Joakim Persson

Freelance business and lifestyle photojournalist

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