Last autumn new tuition fees were proposed for students outside the EU/EEA and Switzerland. The changes are being implemented this coming term.
The newspaper Khrono has covered the issue closely and previously wrote that there is total confusion surrounding the implementation of tuition fees for international students.
UiB received 3.428 applicants from outside the EU/EEA and Switzerland for the autumn term of 2023. Of these, only 981 have confirmed that they wish to maintain their application after being informed about the coming fees.
– The tuition fees will be disastrous for us
The masters program in System Dynamics at UiB, which was intentionally created for international students, is likely to be deeply affected by the changes.
Simply put, the research within this field tries to break complex societal systems down in order to help people understand their mechanisms better and thereby make better decisions.
The program has room for 25 students. Kopainsky estimates that 20 of these spots are on average filled by international students from outside of Europe.
– Based on these numbers, the tuition fees will be disastrous for us, she says and continues:
– Without recruiting massively within Europe and Norway, this master’s program is going to disappear very soon, she says.
The candidates who applied for a master’s in System Dynamics this year have been informed about the new tuition fees. As professor Kopainsky says, the amount of applicants who decided to withdraw is not clear yet, but it is possible that up to two-thirds of them will cancel their applications.
Kopainsky describes System Dynamics as the lighthouse in its field and notes that UiB is internationally well-recognized because of this program.
– UiB is recognized by the System Dynamics program among academia worldwide and is participating in many national and international projects benefiting from field experts at UiB, Shamayeli adds.
Thinks less students will choose UiB
34-year-old Marjan Shamayeli moved to Bergen from Iran to study System Dynamics. She is a member of the International Students Union and Student Parliament at UiB. Shamayeli chose Norway over the US originally to study the field. Now, she does not hide her disappointment.
– I chose Norway because I wanted to have the experience of studying in a country that supports social welfare and to see how social democracy works. But this new policy surprised me. I thought that Norway is not like other countries and values treating people equally.
Shamayeli thinks that less students will choose UiB for studying System Dynamics as a result of increased costs.
– People will choose to study in the USA instead of Norway if they have a chance. The cost will be kind of similar, and it will be more prestigious to graduate from the MIT.
As Shamayeli is going to graduate this spring, the new law will not have an impact on her. However, she is involved in activism for future students who are currently planning to move to Norway.
Confusion and annoyance
Kopainsky and Shamayeli admit that the new regulations, as well as the way they were passed, cause confusion and annoyance in the academic community.
– Everybody is doing their best in a very uncertain environment. The uncertainty is exacerbated by the fact that there is no time, in our case, to suddenly recruit massively more students from within Europe and Norway, comments Kopainsky.
Meanwhile, Shamayeli pays attention to the emotional aspect of students’ reactions:
– The feedback that I got from people was that they are disappointed. Most people are still reacting emotionally.
The price list
In a written reply to Studvest, pro-rector Pinar Heggernes confirms that the university is strongly against tuition fees. However, they still have to follow up on what the Norwegian Parliament decides on this matter. Therefore, UiB is planning to charge tuition fees.
As Heggernes informs, UiB has already chosen a pricing model that follows the national funding categories, which means that the price list of the tuition fees per academic year is already clear. Depending on the category of the master’s program, the entailed cost will be approximately NOK 366.550, NOK 247.950, and NOK 178.400 per year.
The applicants have already been made aware of the costs, according to Heggernes.
– All international students have been sent a letter containing information about the program they have applied for and what the tuition fee will be for that specific program.
However, there is good news for international students who have already begun their studies in Norway before autumn 2023. They will have the opportunity to complete their education without tuition fees.
Ministry of Education and Research: Necessary prioritizations
Political advisor Signe Bjotveit from the Norwegian Ministry of Education and Research emphasizes that some clear priorities had to be made within the state budget due to the broader economical situation.
– Introducing tuition fees for students from countries outside the EU/EEA and Switzerland is one of these priorities.
The tuition fees have yet to be formalized by the Universities and Colleges Act. Bjotveit informs that the changes to the Act will be processed in the Norwegian Parliament (Stortinget) this spring in May or early June.
Bjotveit and the Ministry acknowledge that there have been administrative challenges for the institutions, but she adds:
– Our impression is that most of the challenges have been solved by the institutions, and the Ministry is confident that they will solve also the remaining issues, says Bjotveit.
UiB rector: – A very bad idea
Several universities, including UiB, have asked the government to postpone the finalization of the decision by law. Among them was UiB’s Rector Margareth Hagen, who addressed Minister of Education and Research, Ola Borten Moe, in a letter to point out the challenges and restrictions this decision poses for educational institutions across Norway.
When asked about the situation, Hagen calls the implementation of tuition fees a very bad idea.
– We are genuinely annoyed at the changes. But now we have to deal with this, says Hagen.
The rector is afraid that UiB will struggle to recruit well.
– Having international students among us raises the quality of the study programs, she highlights and adds:
– We don’t think we will get a lot of international students next year.
Khrono has reported that the Minister of Higher Education, Ola Borten Moe, has stated that «the fight is already lost for opponents» of the decision, and that it is final.
Studvest has asked the Ministry whether there is a chance for postponement of the decision. In the Ministry’s reply, Bjotveit doesn’t present us with a definitive answer, but highlights that the decision has been made and that a majority of the Storting has voted in favor of it.