HU and Oslo in com­par­i­son: my uni­ver­si­ty rank­ing

During a semester abroad, you get to know a different university and can draw comparisons: What do I like better here than at my home university and vice versa? From the canteen to the libraries and workload – here’s my personal ranking!

Tom in front of the University library.
The main library on Oslo's Blindern campus or HU's Grimm-Zentrum - which is the better place to study? Photo: private

The lecture period in Oslo is coming to an end and an exciting semester is behind me. So, recently, a friend asked me which university I prefer: Humboldt-Universität (HU) or the University of Oslo (UiO)? It wasn't easy for me to answer this question off the cuff. I thought about it for this blog and put together my personal ranking.

Sports classes

Let's start with Humboldt. HU offers a wide range of sports classes through its Hochschulsport centre. Places are in demand and can be booked at the beginning of each semester. There is a large selection to choose from, including fringe and trendy sports. However, during my time at HU, I only attended two courses, which did not motivate me, personally, to keep at it.

UiO also offers various sports in the form of clubs that you can join and where you can train together in teams. The selection is smaller than at HU. However, at UiO you have the option of taking out a membership with Athletica for around 20 euros a month. Athletica is a gym for students with several locations in Oslo, its own swimming pool and saunas. I attend classes of my choice twice a week.

Overall, I do more sport here and the offer suits me better than the one at HU. The point goes to UiO.

UiO: 1 - HU: 0


The Mensa at HU offers a wide range of dishes - and everything is vegetarian or even vegan. The price-performance ratio is very good. I particularly like going to the Mensa Nord, because I like the place itself and the variety of options. The Mensa in Adlershof and in the main building are my other two go-tos.

At UiO, there are many small cafeterias spread across the campus. You pay by weight, but even small portions can easily cost you 10 euros. That's why I usually go to the main cafeteria on the Blindern campus. Here, there is a daily menu for about 4.50 euros or 6.50 euros, depending on the day. The selection is very limited and oftentimes there is no vegetarian or vegan option for the daily special.

This discipline is clearly won by HU (or, rather, the Berlin Studierendenwerk).

UiO: 1 - HU: 1

Plate with a meal from the mensa.
Not always vegetarian: lunch at Blindern's main cafeteria. Photo: private


The HU library has a total of 12 branches. I mostly go the one at Campus Nord to study and write my papers, sometimes I can be found at the Adlershof location as well. I also like our Grimm-Zentrum, which is in a great location and easy to get to. Unfortunately, it's often hard to find an open desk there. The HU library is extremely well-stocked and each of the branches has its own charm.

When it comes to technical equipment, UiO scores particularly well with the printers, which are located in the library and allow for easy and cheap printing. I always go to the same library here: the main one on Blindern campus. The work atmosphere is great, I feel really comfortable here.

Both universities offer very good locations for learning and working; in my view, they are on equal footing and hence both get a point in this category.

UiO: 2 - HU: 2


UiO is a campus university, and only the main building and the law faculty are in the centre of Oslo. The Blindern campus is about ten minutes by metro from there. The buildings are not the most beautiful but rather functional architecture from the 1950s and 1960s. But the campus is very green and open. I like going there, and the fact that (almost) everything is at one location is also a big advantage.

The HU buildings are more scattered in comparison. My course combination of geography, sports and education allowed me to get to know Campus Mitte, Campus Nord and Adlershof. Commuting between the three can be a serious a test of endurance. When it comes to the buildings, they are as varied as their locations.

I give this point to HU because it has a greater diversity of campuses and buildings compared to UiO. Above all, the location in the centre of Berlin makes the decisive difference for me.

UiO: 2 - HU: 3

Campus of the University of Oslo.
Not as centrally located as HU but leafy and open: University of Oslo, Blindern campus. Photo: private


I have been studying in Berlin since 2018 and have therefore naturally attended many more seminars and lectures at HU than at UiO. In Oslo, I chose three courses with a total of 25 ECTS credits. In comparison, the semester was less packed and stressful than at what I am used to from HU. I found it easier to fulfil the workload and requirements for the courses. I also experienced the work atmosphere as more personal and friendly than in Berlin.

This point goes to the UiO.

UiO: 3 - HU: 3

This concludes the university comparison with a tie and I still can't say which university I like better! Both universities have their strengths and weaknesses for everyday student life. I am looking forward to returning to HU next semester, but of course I will also miss my favourite spots at UiO.

(Published 15 May 2023)