Conservative political party Høyre is willing to discuss the introduction of tuition fees for international students studying in Norway. – Just a concealed way of introducing tuition fees for the entire student body, says Per Anders Langerød.På norsk
– My fear is that such an arrangement will be the first step on the road to making all students pay for their education, as equality to all makes a good point in an argument. Tuition fee is a bad thing whether introduced to national or international students, says Per Anders Langerø, leader of the student division of Norwegian Labour Party (Arbeiderpartiet).
The reason for Langerøds concern is the mobilization on the political right to introduce tuition fees as a possible solution to the growing problems in the educational field. A growing student body and restricted budgets have caused conservative political party Høyre to suggest that international students should pay a tuition fee to study in Norway
Calls for debate
Svein Harberg, Høyre’s representative in the Committee of church-, research and education, wants to start a debate about the issue of tuition fees for international students.
–More and more of our surrounding countries are now introducing tuition fees on higher education. If this causes more students to come to Norway for cost-free education it can lead to a degradation of quality in the educational sector. This is why we can’t be afraid to discuss possible solutions - tuition fee for international students being one of them.
– But isn’t this in conflict with the spoken Norwegian goal of keeping higher education free?
–In my opinion, no. The so-called Principle of free education aims at offering our students higher education free of charge. It is the volume of international students that makes us consider alternative solutions.
– So this principle of free education will not be put to debate?
–One can never guarantee what will be put under debate or not. That depends on the larger economic picture in the educational field, says Harberg.
Høyre on the verge
Mari Mamre, leader of the Conservative Student Party, reports that the student division of Høyre says yes when it comes to the introduction of tuition fees.
–This is not something that has been decided on in the central organs of Høyre yet. But there are forces in the party that wish to introduce tuition fees on higher public education.
Principal of the Norwegian School of Management BI, Tom Colbjørnsen, recently went to the press with his suggestion of making all Norwegian students pay for their education. He is of the same opinion as Mamre.
–I’ve gathered from representatives of Høyre that they wish to discuss the matter further. It is time for a political party to publicly advocate tuition fees on higher education, Colbjørnsen says.
Minister of Research and Higher Education opposes
Tora Aasland, Norwegian Minister of Research and Higher Education, rejects the notion that tuition fees will be introduced any time soon.
–As long as this government is in any position to call the shots, tuition fees will not introduced for neither international nor Norwegian students, she says.
Marianne Aasen, leader of the Committee of church-, research and education in the Storting, Norway’s Parliament, also dismisses tuition fees.
–Education in Norway will remain free.
Aasen does not view tuition fees for international students as an alternative to today’s arrangement. She is of the opinion that the principle of free education strengthens the academic field.
–Free education is important, and gives us a competitive edge in attracting good international students, Aasen says.
Per Anders Langerød makes a point of Norway’s dependency upon the connection to acedemic circles abroad in order to generate innovative thinking.
–International students should be paid rather than pay to come here, is his final word.
Conservative party Høyre opens up to tuition fees, populist party Fremskrittspartiet opposes.På norsk
–This is an obvious case of disagreement. Other problems in the educational sector are more important. We should rather focus on raising the level of education in elementary school than running off debating tuition fees in public universities, leader of Fremskrittpartiet, Siv Jensen, says.
Fremskrittspartiet will not support the introduction of tuition fees for international students either. Leader of Høyre, Erna Solberg, will on the other hand not rule out such a solution.
–If other countries introduce tuition fees we will have to consider whether international students should be able to study in Norway without paying for it, she says.
Editor in chief of the liberal student publication Minerva, Nils August Andresen, feels that the ”Principle of free education” has been viewed as untouchable for a long time, and that this has been standing in the way of an open discussion about the alternatives.
– The political right has been afraid of going to debate on this matter, Andersen claims.
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- Fears gradual introduction of tuition fee
- Right wing political parties in disagreement over tuition fee