Norway was «Like Heaven»: Free Education for Internationals

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International students Ben Delannoy from Canada, Tomoko Nakano from Japan, Jinat Hossain from Bangladesh, Mary Victoria Holt from Canada, Danilo Avanzini from Brazil. PHOTO: SESILIE BJØRDAL

– If I had to pay here, I would probably not have come to Norway, says Brazilian student Danilo Avanzini Rodrigues.

THE STATE BUDGET
  • The government has through the state budget for 2015 proposed to introduce tuition fees for international students outside of the EU/EEA and Switzerland.
  • The tuition fees will not affect students who are eligible for support through Lånekassen or students in Norway on an exchange program.
  • As the Concervative Party (Høyre) and the Progress Party (Fremskrittspartiet) is a minority coalition, this budget will need the support of their supportive parties the Liberals (Venstre) and the Christian Democrats (Kristelig folkeparti).
  • The state budget for 2015 will be debated and modified through the next months. The final budget has to be verified by the Parliament within 15th of December.

By: Iurii Kozik, Clarena Martínez Cantera, Frida Marie Feddersen and Lars E. Måseide

The Norwegian state budget proposed on Ocotober 8th expects students from outside the EEA to pay tuition fees for higher education (read more about the proposal in the fact box).

The proposal has created great controversy. Studvest has gathered a group of international students at Fantoft. Most of them react negatively to tuition fees.

Danilo Avanzini Rodrigues says he probably would not have come here if he had to pay.

– There are other countries without tuition fees, he adds.

The big question is how much the internationals would be required to pay.

– It would depend on the price. In Japan the tuition fee is very expensive, so compared to Japan it is not that much for me, says Tomoko Nakano.

Some are better than the other

Many of the students find it upsetting that EEA citizens will be prioritized and will keep the benevolence of free education.

– Why shouldn’t citizens from EU have to pay, when others have to? Its discrimination, says Canadian student Ben Delannoy.

Christina Havn, president of the Erasmus Student Network (ESN) in Bergen, states that the ESN are negative to the proposal.

– Those who are the most resourceful will come to Norway to study, while the others will be absent. It would be a shame for the diversity in the student environment, and exclude a lot of students from outside the EU, she says.

– The government’s claim that those who are willing to pay are those who are the most motivated to study in Norway, has no documentation supporting it, says Havn.

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DEMONSTRATIONS. The Minister of Education, Torbjørn Røe Isaksen, was met by demonstrating students while visiting the University of Oslo on Wednesday. The students demonstrated against tuition fees. PHOTO: ØRJAN ANDREASSEN

Popular

While the Norwegian Union of Students (NUS) strongly opposes tuition fees, the proposal has gained the support of the Conservative Students in Norway (Høyres studenter).

Leader of the Conservative Students, Heidi Fuglesang, stated in an interview with Studvest that the quality of education should be the reason for students coming to Norway – not the absence of tuition fees.

Some of students at Fantoft do appreciate a quality of education in Norway. Financial questions matter, however.

– The main reason I came here, was that I got a scholarship. I got offered scholarships from two other places, but I chose Norway because the program is quite popular. Some seniors and friends of mine have taken the same degree, and they are doing very good in our country, says Jinat Hossain from Bangladesh.

– The prices are already high here. Without the support from the Norwegian government I would not be able to study here.

Understands the reason

While some of the international students find it difficult to tell the reason for the Norwegian government to charge fees, others understand the economical motivation. They also acknowledge the problem with the situation when Norwegian students being in a foreign country are required to pay, but not the other way around.

– In my country exchange students have to pay, but it´s not that much. It’s clear that the government is trying to cover their expenses, by keeping many things free of charge, Hussain says.

– In many countries they make business with education, so Norway was an exception, she continues.

– It was «like heaven».