The latest topic for higher education in one of the European countries is that the country Norway has introduced tuition-fee education. The proposal to enforce university fees on international students from nations outside European Economic Area and Switzerland was made to the government by the Norwegian Ministry of Education.
Although the tuition fee amounts have not yet been determined, it is suggested that universities and colleges be encouraged to keep their fees at a higher level for courses in high demand. Additionally, now that the budget is in place, the universities will be inspired to enroll as many international students as possible.
Is tuition fee free in Norway for international students?
In presenting its recommendations for the nation’s 2023 budget, the Ministry stressed that Norway continues to be one of the select few nations in the world that does not require that international students pay university tuition, and it insisted that beginning in the fall semester of 2023, universities must try introducing fees to at least cover their expenses per international student.
Additionally, due to the fact that Norwegian universities currently provide a variety of master’s degrees in English, this is particularly attractive to students pursuing master’s degrees (the Bachelor level is mostly taught in Norwegian). The initiative has drawn controversy, according to University World News, being labeled a discriminatory action against vulnerable people.
Student and foreign national Emmanuel Kofi Ovon Babatunde, senior advisor at the University of Bergen’s Division of Research and Innovation, said, “the shocking thing about it is that it is targeted against the most vulnerable groups – those coming from developing countries in Africa… It was bad enough that they decided to deny Africans the funding scheme to take their degrees in Norway. But to introduce a fee and to even threaten the universities not to undercut these fees is an encroachment on the autonomy of the university as an independent institution,”
Ola Borten Moe, Norway’s Minister of Research and Higher Education stated that the action is proportional because Norwegian students who pursue educational careers overseas typically must pay tuition. According to him, “there is no reason for this to be different in Norway. Norway shall still be open for students from abroad, but we think that they should also pay for their studies here,” he stated on October 6, 2022, during the release of the government’s budget.
He further asserted that foreign citizens choose Norway as their study abroad location not because it is inexpensive but because of the high caliber of education they receive there. Additionally, he pointed out that since accommodation has suddenly been a significant concern, having a small number of international students will allow Norwegian students to have access to much more study spaces and homes.
He also emphasized that Norwegian citizens from other EU and Schengen Area nations will still be able to study there for free, even if taxes are implemented for international students. Rather, only nationals of third-party countries will be subject to the costs. Nevertheless, the modification will only be applicable to students who finished their entire education in Norway, not to students who enrolled in exchange programs.
“We want more international students to come to Norway on exchange agreements, and therefore we protect these students. The main priority for student mobility must be exchange students,” Minister Borten Moe said regarding this.
Statistics Norway reports that there are presently 242,606 domestic students in the country between the ages of 19 and 34, of which 100,465 are men and the remaining 142,141 are women. More than 13,000 among them are immigrants with Norwegian roots.
About 19,000 foreign students studied in Norway in 2019; half of them were pursuing a full degree. In 2020, China (834), Iran (650), Syria (623), Pakistan (525), India (514), Nepal (501), the United States (424), the Philippines (322), Bangladesh (274) and Russia (273), were the top 10 non-EU, non-EEA, and non-Swiss nations bringing students to Norway
In the nation’s budget for 2023, the government has allocated a sum of NOK 42.8 billion as framework support for universities and colleges. In order to create a stronger and higher-quality higher-education system, the Ministry aims to expand the budget for educational programs even more via the proposed introduction of new fees.
With 25,000 students who are seeking university qualifications there at an average cost of €188,852, Norway’s tuition-free education costs its taxpayers roughly €472.8 million in taxes annually.
The issue of tuition fees for foreign students studying in Norway has come up in parliament on a number of occasions, most recently in November 2021 when Borten Moe was reminded by Roy Steffensen of the Progressive Party how he had previously urged support for the implementation of such fees.
Amine Fquihi, president of the International Student Union in Norway, said: “The lack of highly ranked universities, the language barrier, plus tuition fees will make Norway a little less attractive. For instance, how will students from Asia with highly competitive higher education institutions look at this when they are deciding to study in Norway or in the UK or US?”
He also added that: “By introducing tuition fees in Norway for international students outside the EU and EEA, we will be effectively increasing the gap between the wealthy and others in developing countries. Only the wealthiest in these countries will be able to take advantage of the opportunity to study in Norway – a country without visible class hierarchies.”
According to him, the current situation allows students who come to Norway from oppressive political and social contexts to flourish in the country’s liberal climate and advance their academic skills. He also added that these students finally make a contribution to Norway’s academic world and labour force. Whenever they go back home, they will be better equipped to give back to their community and the wider world thanks to their education.
With this sad news, you may be worried and want to know if you can still study in Europe for free. The simple answer is yes. There are other options. Setlinn.com has several helpful pieces of information concerning low-tuition universities. Also, you may want to read this post to learn how to apply to be a refugee in Norway.