Annual report 2021

Study programmes and students

In 2021, the important work to strengthen academic and social integration for our students has been a high priority.

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Student involvement and inclusive learning environment

All BI campuses must have a good and inclusive learning environment, where diversity is valued. We will listen to our students and actively collaborate with them. BI is committed to involving students at all levels, from decision-making forums at institutional level to dialogue meetings at course and class level. There are evaluation meetings between class representatives and lecturers in all our courses about teaching, midway through the semester, as well as a programme evaluation meeting where the Associate Dean (academic head for each study) and representatives from the academic affairs administration meet, where the entirety of the study programme is discussed.

Regular dialogue meetings are also held between our student organisation BISO and BI leaders, as well as through the Learning Environment Committee (LMU). LMU is the formal body that oversees BI's learning environments and has an advisory role on the BI board of trustees, with the same number of employee and student representatives.

Increased focus on academic and social integration

During the pandemic, it has been important for BI to work on measures related to academic and social integration, after two years of digital teaching and little physical contact between fellow students and lecturers. Several student surveys, including the so-called SHoT Survey in 2021, have shown that the pandemic has had a negative impact on the mental health of our students.

BI's own findings in 2021 showed that 47% of students say they have felt more lonely during the pandemic, several acquired mental health problems (44% vs 27% in 2018), and many are unhappy with the quality of digital teaching (75%). This corresponds to findings at an overall national level.

BI introduced a number of measures in addition to further developing existing offers, including the learning assistant scheme as guidance for other students. In 2021, BI launched a national mentoring scheme for new incoming BI students at all campuses. Since the autumn, around 5000 first-year students have been offered a place in groups led by over 200 student mentors, where they could participate in both social and academic activities throughout the year. The offer was very well received by the students.

BI already has a Student Counselling Office that assists students who need someone to talk to, but in 2021 BI decided to strengthen the health services for students by providing free psychologist services for everyone at Campus Oslo. BI also started a collaboration with the student association (BISO) and the Kavli Trust to arrange various activities that focus on mental health and promote better social integration.

Completion rate and dropouts

BI works systematically to reduce dropout rates, ensure study progression and increase completion rates among BI students. The completion rate among undergraduates last year increased from 45% in 2020 to 49.5% in 2021. At a master's level, the completion rate was 82%, down five percent from our record year of 2020. The completion rate for PhD after six years was 46% in 2021, which is a decrease from the previous year. Here it is important to note that the data on which these figures is based is very limited, and that small changes have a major impact.

In the period 1 September 2020 to 31 August 2021, 3979 degrees were completed at BI.

Over time, BI has prioritised efforts to reduce dropout rates among existing students. We do this by e.g. digitising dropout data and using this to take accurate and preventive measures against students who risk falling out of studies. Other measures include sending information to all our students via SMS and e-mail with practical information to encourage participation in activities and calling at-risk students. Perhaps the most important challenge here is the dropout rate among undergraduate students in their first year. In 2021, we are very pleased that the drop-out rate among this group was only 11%, which is a decrease of 5% compared to the previous year.

Good learning experiences

In 2019, the new Library and Learning Center was created to strengthen capacity, strategic development, operational support in research, teaching and learning. Their main task is to contribute to increased educational quality and further development of teaching and learning. For the past two years, their focus has been on further developing and strengthening BI's digital teaching offerings.


Full-time market

This year, as with last year, BI experienced a record number of applicants for our full-time studies with an applicant growth of 17% compared to the previous year. However, due to high student admissions in 2019 and 2020, BI was not able to take up as many students for capacity reasons. 7% fewer students were offered a place in 2021, but this also means that the scoring requirements were higher to get into some programmes. Total sales rose by 9.6% from the previous year.

In the autumn of 2021, 4982 new full-time students started on BI's four campuses, compared with 5339 in 2020. 4242 students started a bachelor's degree or year module, compared with 4605 the year before, which corresponds to an 8% decrease. At master's level, BI tied last year's admission with 740 new master's students in the fall of 2021 compared to 734 in 2020. In total, this corresponds to an increase of 1%.

We are particularly pleased with strong applicant growth in our bachelor's programmes in finance (618 applicants in 2021 versus 537 in 2020) and real estate (1232 applicants in 2021 versus 1088 in 2020). For our master's programmes, we are pleased with the increase seen in our Master of Science in Business.  

Executive education

In 2021, Executive Division earned 9% more than last year. For our national programmes, a substantial part of the growth is due to funds allocated by the Directorate for Higher Education and Skills. The funds support the partial delivery of courses to the unemployed and laid off during the pandemic, and partly the development of new courses that the market demands, including in the field of digitalisation and sustainability.

The development of the course portfolio is distributed across the entire range of products, from traditional master's and bachelor courses and programmes to the further development of the success of last year, Short Learning Modules. The latter are short courses that are conducted digitally, primarily without exams.

Our international programmes were also popular last year, with good admission to both our EMBA programme in Oslo and our BI-Fudan MBA in China. Our Executive Master of Management in Energy programme, delivered in collaboration with IFP in Paris, had a lower uptake, probably caused by the global pandemic situation.


In 2021, BI's Board of Trustees approved the new revised Bachelor's Degree Model, which envisages increased flexibility and more choices for our bachelor students. The model has been developed in line with requirements set by the authorities for educational institutions to facilitate more mobility and work-life relevance. The new model will give students a unique flexibility to integrate both foreign exchanges and internships in companies during their course of study. In 2022, dedicated groups have been given specific mandates to develop course descriptions for proposed basic courses, as well as to investigate the economic and administrative consequences of a new model.

BI has also initiated extensive work on simplifying processes related to student mobility (visiting students and foreign exchanges), which also follows the government's goal that far more Norwegian students should be able to study abroad. The European Commission has also taken the initiative that the most time-consuming processes related to exchanges should be digitised and standardised. BI's ambition for 2022 is for BI students, both academic and administrative, will see a significantly smoother and more digitised process in this regard.

Following the government's amendment to the Degree Regulations, the board decided that BI should continue to develop a three-year bachelor's degree and a two-year master's degree in law in 2021, with the aim of having these accredited and approved by NOKUT. These studies, where the master's degree will be Norway's first in business law and economics, are in demand by the industry.

On the Executive side, we have also worked systematically with stackable programmes, i.e. experimenting with dividing courses into several modules with fewer credits. This follows a trend in the international market, and the response from customers has been above all expectations. Going forward, we expect that more and more Executive students will want shorter, more intensive courses that can be more easily combined with work and commitments at home.

Since its launch in the spring of 2020, our so-called Short Learning Modules have had over 5000 implementations. These courses are funded either by the student, an employer or through public funds. The purpose of the SLM courses is to increase the quality and scope of digital learning products, as well as meet the market demand for shorter and more flexible learning opportunities.

BI also received around two million kroner from the Directorate (formerly Kompetanse Norge) to develop new continuing education programme offerings in digital change work specifically for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). The project was completed in December 2021 and the new offer will be launched in the autumn of 2022. BI's three new development projects in artificial intelligence, digitalisation and sustainability were also accepted, which will be piloted in 2022 and launched in 2023.

Full-time studies commencing in 2021:

  • Bachelor of Data Science for Business (name change only, former Bachelor of Business Analytics)

Executive courses and studies commencing in 2021:

  • Market, crises and sustainability (online course)
  • SLM: Business Management
  • SLM: Customer Experience Management
  • SLM: Stress, Motivation and Self-Leadership
  • SLM: Sustainable Finance
  • Speech Climate and Leadership (Executive Master's programme)


We need outstanding lecturers, but also outstanding students. In 2021, BI received many strong applications for grants and scholarships at a bachelor and MSc level, from applicants at home and abroad. 67 skilled students, divided into 37 women and 30 men, and 30 nationalities and 6 continents, received grants from BI in 2021. 12% of these received their scholarship from 2020 to 2021 due to the pandemic.

BI's own scholarships include: BI Presidential Scholarship, MSc International Scholarship, MSc International – Bergen, BI Baccalaureate Scholarship and Bachelor International Scholarship. BI and Luiss University in Rome are collaborating to offer the BI-Luiss Joint Masters In Marketing Scholarship.

In early 2021, the A. Wilhelmsen Foundation also signed an agreement to renew its sponsorship of scholarships for two master's students annually for four more years.

In 2021, in line with our goals of increased internationalisation and diversity, BI expanded our scholarship programme scheme and included a dedicated scholarship aimed at students in Bergen. We also established the Women in Finance and Tech scholarships. These scholarships demonstrate an obligation to promote gender balance in industries traditionally dominated by men. The goal is to attract top female students to our programmes in finance, data science and business analytics.


We believe that practical experience and contact with the business sector that BI students gain through credit-giving internships can strengthen their learning outcomes. In 2021, 336 bachelor's students and 282 master's students had internships as part of their course of studies, compared with 175 and 256 in 2020, respectively. 20 bachelor's students also had internships in their own companies compared with 34 in 2020.

Number of students at BI in 2021*:


  2019 2020 2021
Bachelor 10506 11545 11896
Master of Science 1411 1543 1633
PhD studies 63 62 68

Continuing and further education

  2019 2020 2021
  Spring Autumn Total Spring Autumn Total Spring Autumn Total
Online studies 1686 1635 2544 1544 1971 2796 1969 1894 3007
Executive Bachelor 1625 1524 2654 1470 1449 2441 1492 1615 2695
Executive Master 1731 1783 2620 1809 1670 2598 1759 1668 2568
Executive MBA 69 69 70 68 29 68 65 35 65
Executive Master of Management in Energy 40 25 40 53 31 53 50 17 50
BI-Fudan MBA 353 358 422 328 338 383 338 355 393
  2019 2020 2021
Short Learning Modules - 1712 1383
  2019 2020 2021
Corporate 2216 1780 1889
  2019 2020 2021
Total number of students 19452 21517 21653

* All figures are taken from BI's own Discover dashboard, Student Insight. The figures only include active students, i.e. people with an active examination or course registration. BI's full-time studies are only admitted in the autumn, while several continuing and further education programmes and courses both start and end in spring and autumn. The table for the latter therefore shows the number of students in the different programme areas as of spring, autumn and total. A student can follow courses and programmes in several programme areas within a year and in these cases will be counted in both places. The total number of students shows the number of unique students who completed a course or programme at BI that year. This number does not include PhD students, as these are considered employees by BI.

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