Annual Report 2020

Programmes and students

Our students deserve excellent teaching. BI emphasizes this through a continuous focus on increased student involvement and insight, innovation of the programme portfolio and systematic pedagogical training and support.

<< Back to main page                                          Accreditations and Rankings >>

Including learning environment

BI aims to have a good and including learning environment at all campuses, where diversity among students is appreciated. Close cooperation between the students and employees is a key to success in this respect. In practice, this cooperation takes place at multiple levels – during regular dialogue meetings between the student organisation BISO and BI’s management, as well as in the studies at the campuses, and in the Learning Environment Committee (LMU). The Learning Environment Committee is the formal body overseeing BI’s learning environment, with an advisory function towards the Board of Trustees. It has an equal number of student and administrative members. Based on feedback from the students, it is now possible that a student may be the formal head of the LMU every year instead of every second year.

Degree of completion

During the last three years BI has introduced a number of measures to make the start of studies better, and to improve social and academic integration and individual follow-up. In 2020 more than 100 students helped support the academic development of fellow students through our guidance scheme with learning students. We also make determined efforts to reduce the number of dropouts and increase the degree of completion. In 2020 the degree of completion within the nominal length of study increased to 45 % for bachelor’s programmes and to 87 % on master’s programmes. The latter is record high at BI and far above the sector average.

In 2020 we have also been working on implementing data on drop-out students digitally, to begin with for first-year bachelor students. The purpose is to be able to detect patterns more easily and plan preventive measures. Based on this insight, among other things, vulnerable students have been called. By means of BICX, BI’s new CRM platform, we have also sent mass SMSs and e-mails to students as a drop-out preventive measure.

Involvement and insight

The corona pandemic has resulted in delays or changes concerning certain measures of student involvement. Nevertheless, in the spring of 2020, we had suggestions from five sparring partners concerning the change to digital teaching as a result of the covid 19 pandemic. Relevant topics included Zoom, the new teaching model and digital examinations. The suggestions have been used to further develop our supervision activities and the training of our academic staff in digital teaching.

BI conducts dialogue meetings between class representatives and lecturers at all the campuses. The lecturers publish a summary with action points for the whole class. A programme evaluation meeting is held every semester between the Associate Dean (the academic head of each programme), student representatives and the academic administration. The number of student representatives on the Programme Committee for the executive and PhD programmes was also increased to strengthen student involvement in these programmes.

In 2020 three student surveys were conducted concerning digital teaching (60 respondents), digital examinations (193 respondents) and courses taught in accordance with the new teaching model (893 respondents). The results have been used as a basis for pedagogical workshops with the departments, and as information to meetings of the management and further strategic work.

Good learning experiences

In 2019 the new department Library and Learning Centre was established in order to strengthen capacity, strategy development and operative user support in research, teaching and learning. The mission of the Learning Centre, based on BI’s Strategy 2025, is to contribute to increased pedagogical quality and the further development of teaching and learning. Its field of responsibility is related to learning design, learning technology, content production and pedagogical competence development.

Admissions 2020

The full-time market
In 2020 admissions were so high that BI at a certain point had to stop new applications, both due to lack of capacity on certain programmes and physical limitations on campus. On the bachelor’s programmes admissions were up 16 % on the previous year (4,133 new students as against 3,560 in 2019). With 739 new students in 2020 as compared to 559 the year before on the master’s programmes, the previous record from 2018 was crushed. Including one-year programmes a total of 5,353 new full-time students stated their studies at BI in the autumn of 2020, as comparted to 4,647 new students in 2019.

We expected a large number of applicants but consider the pandemic the main single reason why a record number of students applied for a place at BI. For young people, travel and work became less relevant in 2020 and an increased number applied for a place in higher education. The same trend was also seen in the rest of the sector.

For BI this was particularly seen at master’s degree level where foreign institutions are usually strong competitors. The pandemic made a higher number of students choose to stay in Norway, and a larger number of BI’s international bachelor students chose to continue their education here.

A great highlight was an increase in the finance discipline. A total of 472 students started on a programme of study in finance in 2020, as against 276 in 2019. Our bachelor’s degree programme in International Management has undergone a successful repositioning and change of name, and the number of students increases to 329 in 2020 (up 70 %), as against 194 in 2019. Bachelor in Business Administration, BI’s largest programme of study by number of students, increased from 862 students to 1026 students in 2020 (19 % increase).

Executive education
Thanks to the introduction of the Short Learning Modules concept and a strong growth in onlinebased courses and programmes, the turnover for the Executive programmes division in 2020 was 9 % higher than the previous year. The Short Learning Modules concept was introduced in the spring of 2020, with the Government’s emergency packages aimed at unemployed people, lay-offs and hard-hit industries as background. By participating in the courses these groups were able to build up relevant competence and return stronger to working life. In partnerships with enterprises and clusters, as well as several employee and employer organizations, BI had more than 3,000 participants on such courses. BI has managed very well compared to some foreign players in the market for international leadership programmes. True, our BI-Fudan MBA is somewhat down compared to last year, with 44 and 41 new students in 2020 (spring and autumn admissions) respectively as against 54 and 61 the previous year. We had a very satisfactory number of applicants to our Executive MBA programme; the pandemic, however, led to a number of withdrawals just before start-up. We finally ended up with a class of 33 students as against 39 students in 2019. With 35 new students, the Executive Master of Management in Energy had particularly good admission figures in 2020 compared to 23 students the year before.

Innovation in the programme portfolio

In 2020 BI has been working actively on three new potential bachelor’s degree programmes for the full-time market. Web-based short courses caught the interest of BI’s Executive programme customers. At the same time the work on marking out a course for future bachelor’s degree programmes at BI continues.

The new potential bachelor’s programmes are focused on digital business, service management and public management. The first one is most complete, and approval will probably be given in the autumn of 2021, with start of the programme in 2022.

Since the introduction in the spring of 2020, more than 3,000 participants have taken so-called Short Learning Modules (SLM) at BI, financed either by the participants themselves, by employers or through public funds. The purpose of these modules is to increase the quality and scope of digital learning products and meet market needs for shorter and more flexible learning opportunities.

Throughout 2020, authorized by the President, a project group at BI has been working on developing a proposal for a new bachelor’s programmes model. The overall objective is to increase the degree of internationalization through increased exchange of bachelor students, among other things. In June the group concluded that it would not be possible to reach the goals for the project without developing a new architecture and structure for the bachelor’s programmes, including changes in the composition of basic courses, programme courses and elective courses. In the autumn of 2020, the group was supplemented with an academic and an administrative working party that were both assigned the task of developing specific proposals for new models, and to consider administrative consequences.

In November 2020 the project group submitted specific model proposals that were discussed by BI’s management team. The proposals are still being discussed and further progress for the project in 2021 has not been determined.

Full-time programmes with first-time start in 2020

  • BI-Luiss Joint MSc in Marketing (one year at BI in Oslo, one year at Luiss in Rome)
  • Master of Science in Finance, QTEM


Executive courses and programmes with first-time start in 2020


Pilot of full-time master’s degree programmes at campus Bergen

For a long time, BI has wanted to offer full-time master’s degree programmes outside Oslo. The piloting of this at our Bergen campus, which was started in 2019 and was continued in 2020 is considered to have been successful. The first two groups have been small. The group of students, however, is functioning well and good cooperation has been established with business clusters in the region. This has resulted in close relations between the students and business. In 2020 BI decided to extend the programme with yet another specialization, Major in Finance, from the autumn of 2021.


BI needs both an excellent staff and excellent students. In 2019 the school received many strong applications for scholarships both at bachelor’s and master’s level.

47 talented students, 21 women and 26 men, representing 15 nationalities and 4 continents, received scholarships from BI in 2020. Our scholarships include BI Presidential Scholarship, MSc International Scholarship, BI Norwegian Business School/QS Scholarship and the A. Wilhelmsen Foundation Scholarship. BI is the sponsor of the first three of these, whereas the last one is sponsored by the A. Wilhelmsen Foundation.


BI has had a strong focus on the internship scheme over time, including the year 2020 partly by making internship courses available for students on three new master’s degree programmes. We believe that practical experience and contact with business through credit-giving internships constitute an important element in the course of education for our students. For 175 bachelor students and 256 master’s degree students internships formed part of their timetable in the past year, as compared to 186 and 199 respectively in 2019. In 2020 34 bachelor students had internships in their own enterprises compared to 26 in 2019.

Number of students at BI in 2020

  • Total number of students: 20168 
  • Bachelor: 12294
  • Master of Science: 1579
  • PhD: 62
  • Web-based studies: 2944
  • Executive Bachelor: 2397
  • Executive Master: 2117
  • Executive MBA: 68
  • Executive Master of Management in Energy: 53
  • BI-Fudan MBA: 398
  • Short Learning Modules: 1713
  • Corporate: 1233

NB! For a full overview of number of students divided on different programmes and compared to previous years, see page 56 in the pdf version of BI's Annual report for 2020.

<< Back to main page                                          Accreditations and Rankings >>