This month, the Conservative Party has been hard at work setting up their platform for the upcoming parliamentary election. Amongst those decisions: demanding tuition money from international students who come from countries outside the European Economic Area (EEA).
Kristin Vinje, who is responsible for higher education and research in the party, says it is not at odds with Norwegian values and the principle of free education.
Focus on elite universities
«I don’t think it’s paradoxical at all. The principle of free education still stands rock solid as always. We want to allow for the intake of tuition from international students outside the EEA,» Vinje said.
She highlighted that the changes are supposed to make it easier for Norwegian students to study at prestigious foreign universities.
«We want to strengthen support for Norwegian students who are applying to top universities abroad. We want to increase the stipends available to students who want to apply to places like Harvard, where the university requires tuition,» Vinje said.
«Why do you think students should want a conservative government instead of a liberal one?»
«Students should choose a conservative government that has placed a lot of focus on higher education and research, with a good framework for students,» Vinje said. «We’ve shown that over the last four years, and students can trust that we have big ambitions moving forward!»
Student leader provoked
Hans Christian Paulsen, leader of student parliament at UiO, was appalled at the suggestion from the Conservative Party.
«We can’t divide students into groups. They are all students, regardless of nationality,» he said.
Paulsen pointed out that history shows it can be a slippery slope. First international students will pay tuition, then it increases, and finally tuition fees apply to regular students as well.
«Isn’t it OK to take tuition from international students since other universities are doing it?»
«No,» Paulsen answered. «We can’t abandon our principles. This isn’t about what others do, it’s about what we want to be.»