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The International Students’ Union of Norway (ISU-Norway) has for a long time advocated the continued free higher education in Norway. Our position has been based on the need to uphold the universal right to education for all.
Introducing tuition fees will be discriminatory to students from low social economic backgrounds, and despite the argument that student loans can fill in the gap, it is important to remember that student loans end up being a burden to students after completing studies.
It is important to note that even with no tuition fees, students in Norway still get loans from Lånekassen, and those who do not qualify have to combine part time work with studies, which is overwhelming to manage.
If tuition fees were introduced, international students would be the most vulnerable.
The argument that the education is completely free is therefore ultimately not true. It is important to emphasize that if tuition fees were introduced, international students would be the most vulnerable.
Even though we have yet to see the full magnitude of the loss of the quota scheme, it is evident that universities are trying to adjust to the loss of international students. In this light, an effort to introduce tuition fees, whether moderate or not, will prove a massive hindrance to the efforts of internationalization.
There exists a unified stance amongst the majority of international students in Norway, that no tuition fees was a compelling factor in their choice of Norway as a study destination. Having international students locally is a huge resource for bringing internationalization into lecture halls in Norway, and a massive supplement to the existing programmes that send Norwegian students abroad.
The high cost of living in Norway is always an issue of concern amongst international students, especially those from developing countries. ISU therefore calls for efforts towards promoting more programmes that bring international students to Norway, and robust actions towards inclusion and integration to maximize the benefits of internationalization.