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Norway: End of free for all era

EducationWorld August 2023 | International News Magazine

Norwegian universities have a busy summer ahead as politicians argue over the finer details of international student fees, which will be charged to those from outside the European Economic Area (EEA) from this month.

Overall support for the plans from the Norwegian parliament’s education committee on June 6 confirms the late summer deadline, despite warnings from the University and College Council and others that levying fees would create costs and that similar changes in Sweden were brought in with two years’ notice, rather than two months.

Among the uncertainties are the exact scope of exemptions and a scholarship scheme promised by the government to ensure that some students from low-income countries can still come to Norway.

Local media have reported that the University of Oslo, University of Stavanger and Norwegian University of Life Sciences have all collected fees from non-EEA applicants, with Oslo and Stavanger making their own decisions on exceptions for some. The Norwegian University of Science and Technology has said it hasn’t yet levied fees.

Agnete Vabø, vice-dean at Oslo Metropolitan University, which has a particularly high share of international students, told Times Higher Education that her institution is among those waiting to hear from the ministry how fee exemptions would work. “These things have been postponed (while we) wait and see what will be decided. It’s so complicated to decide and there are various opinions about it,” she says. She is “very surprised” that left-wing parties had chosen to shape the proposal rather than oppose it.

The introduction of international fees in one of Europe’s last free-for-all systems has faced opposition at home and abroad. Following the committee confirmation, Maika Marie Godal Dam, head of the Norwegian Student Organisation, says it was “a betrayal from many quarters” and “a sad day for students and for equal opportunities”.

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