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13.11.2014

Tuition fees for international students: Here’s what’s happening

NUS Norway meets a lot of international students who are worried they are not going to be able to finish their studies in Norway because of the government’s proposal on tuition fees. This article is meant to clarify what today’s status is.

Who is affected?

The government proposes to cut the higher education sector’s core block grant of 80.5 million NOK. The institutions can earn this money back by introducing a tuition fee for international students from outside the EU/EEA and Switzerland. This does not apply to students that are entitled to economic support from the State Educational Loan Fund or students from developing countries on exchange programs. 

– There are 8000 international students from outside Europe in Norway, but only about 1700 will be affected by this proposal. That of course means that the burden is shared by fewer students, and the potential sum for the tuition fee might be quite high, Helge Schwitters says.

 When Sweden did the same the number of applicants from these affected countries went down by 79 %. If we assume that there will be a 50 % decrease in applicants to Noway the tuition fee will vary from 19.000 NOK in the University College of Narvik till 278.000 in the University College of Nesna. It is not fair, and also highly unlikely that students with that amount of money would choose to use them on a Norwegian school. 

Aftenposten said on Sunday that half of the rectors of the 8 universities in Norway do not want to introduce tuition fees. That means that even if this proposal goes through in Parliament, it does not necessarily mean you will have to pay tuition next year. 

What has NUS Norway done?

– Stopping this proposal has been made NUS Norway’s number one priority ever since the government’s proposal for a state budget was submitted. We have had several meetings and phone-calls with members of parliament, and we also participated in consultations with the parliament’s standing committees of Education, Research and Church Affairs and Finance and Economic Affairs, Schwitters says.

The very same day the state budget was submitted NUS Norway arranged and took part in a demonstration on the University of Oslo grounds that Minister of Education and Research, Torbjørn Røe Isaksen, had to go through.

– The subject has also been notably mentioned in the media.

What happens now?

The Progress Party (Frp) and the Conservative Party (Høyre) lead a minority government, so they will have to negotiate their submitted proposal with other parties in parliament. The two parties have a signed agreement on cooperation with the Christian Democratic Party (KrF) and the Liberal Party (Venstre), and representatives from these four parties are in proceedings as we speak.

Their final proposal is likely to be ready next week.

 We have our hopes up, since both KrF and Venstre have said they do not want tuition fees, Schwitters says. 

– As soon as the proposal is out there it is not much we can do. The four parties represent a solid majority in parliament, so their common submission is very likely to be adopted. Before the proposal is ready, however, NUS Noway is keeping in touch with representatives from the four parties, and also take part in demonstrations all over the country that are being arranged on the International Students’ Day on Monday.

Further questions?

Contact NUS Norway by email: internasjonalt@student.no or by phone: 98225995.

International Students’ Union of Norway (ISU) is also available if you have questions.

– ISU Norway has been working closely with NUS Norway and will continue to do so on behalf of all international students. We are available for all international students anytime, and can be reached on Tel: 46251434, e-mail nationalpresident@isu-norway.no, says Abbas Sharif, national president of ISU.

The introduction of tuition fees creates barriers that restrict access to higher education and turn students’ focus towards making ends meet rather than focusing on their studies and quality of education, he says, and adds:

ISU Norway has heard from many international students who feel that tuition fees specifically targeting international students outside the EU/EEA as nationality-based discrimination.

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