The 8th of October the government released a draft of the national budget of Norway for 2015. In the proposed budget was a 80.5 million kroner cut in funding for higher education institutions, encouraging the introduction of tuition fees for students outside the EU / EEA to make up for the reduced funding. Immidiately after the release of the budget student organisations such as National Union of Students in Norway (NSO), International Students' Union (ISU) and Erasmus Student Network Norway (ESN Norway) among others protested against the proposal.
- The importance of internationalization has never been clearer. Both for increased quality in education and to foster development of transversal skills such as intercultural communication which are becoming more and more important. Introducing tuition fees would be the equivalent of shooting ourselves in the leg, said Johannes Kvam, Education Officer of ESN Norway.
You can find ESN Norway's official statement here.
Tuition fees was proposed to be introduced also in last year's budget and then aswell as now the Christian Democrats (KRF) and the Liberal party (Venstre) had a decisive role. The government needed these two parties on board in order to get the budget approved. Both parties showed opposition to the proposal, but in negotiations the importance was unknown. On the 21st of November, after extensive negotiations, the final budget for 2015 was released showing that the proposed cut in funding for institutions was dropped. The implications being that tuition fees will not be introduced for third country students.
- We are very happy that the Liberal party and Christian democrats prioritized this issue and did not yield. An important day for the Norwegian internationalization and education policy, says Kvam.
ESN Norway is happy to see that Norwegian education remains free for all and hope that the focus will now shift onto solving issues inhibiting the effectivness of internationalization.