Norwegian education no longer free?
The 8th of October the Norwegian government proposed in the national budget for 2015 a cut of 80.5 million Norwegian Kroner to higher education institutions, encouraging them to introduce tuition fees for students coming from outside the EU/EEA and Switzerland.
This is a direct threat to the principle of free education in Norway and Erasmus Student Network Norway believes this to be a direct threat to mobility. The same government tried introducing tuition fees in last year’s national budget as well, but the proposal was shot down by the parliament. By proposing the same this year, the government is completely bypassing the parliament.
- The government has actively proclaimed the importance of internationalization to make education institutions competitive, reducing the influx of students is a step in the wrong direction, says Johannes Kvam, Education Officer of ESN Norway.
Should the proposal be accepted this would mean an enormous bill being handed to the incoming students. The Ministry of Education confirms that the price of a higher education in Norway can be as high as up to 100,000 Kroner per year and that around 1700 current students in Norway may be faced with demands of paying tuition fees. Read more here.
Another concern tied to tuition fees is its indicated promise for the future. Countries that introduce tuition fees for international students have a tendency to move towards the introduction of tuition fees for all. This is what is known as the domino effect.
The main arguments for the proposal of tuition fees revolves around the government wanting a more targeted internationalization, hoping that students will choose Norway for the quality of the education, not because it is free. Students will have to rely on heavy scholarships, loans or the support of wealthy families to be able to afford a Norwegian education. Considering the already staggering cost of living in Norway, the quality of the education would have to be very high in order to remain competitive and justify tuition fees. It is important to remember that raising the price does not mean raising the quality.
Tailing behind the Nordic trend
Our nordic neigbours have already introduced tuition fees. Denmark introduced tuition fees in 2006, while Sweden introduced them in 2011. Sweden experienced an immediate decrease of 73% in the number of applicants applying for masters programs and a 83% decrease in students applying for bachelor courses and programs.
Norway is in a unique financial situation which does not force us to follow this trend of introduced tuition fees.
- Just because the Nordics have introduced tuition fees does not mean that we have to. This is the time to invest in internationalization; focus on tackling the current inhibitors to internationalization in Norway, not creating new ones, says Johannes.
#stoppskolepenger - Stop tuition fees
Spearheaded by The National Union of Students in Norway (Norsk studentorganisasjon, NSO in Norwegian), ESN and the International Student Union (ISU) several stakeholders have already rushed to express their support for the campaign to stop tuition fees, saying #stoppskolepenger. You can find a list of supporters here.
Shortly after the budget was announced a protest was organized the same day at University of Oslo where the Minister for education was present.
Last year the liberal party and the christian democratic party stopped the proposal of tuition fees. We hope and believe that they will again rise to our expectations and stop the proposal.
ESN Norway will continue fighting the proposal and believe that free education is the cornerstone in Norwegian education policy that should remain unwavering.
“An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.” - Benjamin Franklin