The End of Tuition-Free Education for International Students in Norway
The Norwegian parliament has voted to abolish free tuition for international students, reports Online Editor-in-Chief, Amelie Thompson.
On the 9th of June 2023, the Norwegian parliament voted to abolish free tuition for international students outside of the European Economic Area and Switzerland. The new recommended fee is USD$13,000, though there is a stipulation that individual universities could charge more for courses in high demand.
This abolition was established from a proposal by the Norwegian government in October 2022 to scrap the free-tuition policy and will come into effect in the autumn semester of 2023. The government’s reasoning for this change included that no other European country offers free tuition to students outside of the European Union and that many Norwegian students have to pay if they study abroad.
There are some exemptions to the policy, including refugees, people displaced from Ukraine, and doctoral candidates, yet notable ramifications to the overall number of international students in Norway are likely.
There are some exemptions to the policy, including refugees, people displaced from Ukraine, and doctoral candidates, yet notable ramifications to the overall number of international students in Norway are likely. A study conducted by study.eu found that Norway could lose 70 to 80 per cent of non-European students, as 74 per cent of respondents said that “tuition-free study options” was one of the top reasons they considered studying in Norway.
These changes are also said to have significant implications for international students from the Global South, as free tuition has historically allowed citizens of these nations to access education that was otherwise unattainable. Moreover, the establishment of the Quota Scheme programme in 1993 ensured that 1,100 students were admitted into Norwegian universities every year.
Randi Haaland, a benefactor of the programme and professor emeritus at the University of Bergen, stated, “Some heads of institutes, research leaders, heads of governmental organisations in Ghana today are products of the Norwegian free educational system. About 90% of these come from poor families who would never have gotten the chance for further education if tuition was [needed].”
Students and left-wing groups reflect on the impact this move will have on marginalized groups. The true impact of this abolition will become clearer once fees are imposed, yet for proponents of free higher education for all, the parliamentary decision is a damaging setback.