It has been a debated question for many years, also within the Center Party. But now Sp deputy leader Ola Borten Moe can enjoy a breakthrough he has fought for for too long.
In the proposal for the state budget for next year, the government is now in favor of allowing foreign students to pay for studies in Norway, NRK is informed.
NRK does not know exactly how the proposal will be framed. But in Denmark and Sweden, foreign students pay fees.
Denmark introduced tuition fees for international students in 2006, but the Danish fee does not affect students from the EU and the EEA area.
It also does not apply to students on exchange programs or students who have a permanent residence permit in Denmark.
Sweden has a similar system.
The government with the Conservative Party and the Progressive Party at one time wanted to introduce tuition fees for students from countries outside the EU and EEA, but the proposal was stopped by KrF and Venstre in 2014.
At the start of studies last autumn, it was estimated that there were around 12,500 full-degree students and around 8,500 exchange students from abroad at Norwegian universities and colleges.
In 2017, the national meeting of the Center Party agreed to continue the practice of foreign students being allowed to study in Norway for free.
The case was important, not least for the Senterungdommen, which at the time was led by Ada Arnstad. Now she is a political adviser in the Ministry of Finance and associated with a government that wants to introduce tuition fees for foreign students.
On the opposite side of the discussion in the Center Party at the time was deputy leader and current minister for research and higher education, Ola Borten Moe.
– It is time to introduce school fees for foreign students in Norway, he wrote in an NRK chronicle that winter.
– Norway is one of the very few countries in the world that has free university and college education for foreign students, said Moe.
He also argued that the system contrasts with how Norwegian students meet abroad, where it is common to have high tuition fees that are only partially covered by the loan fund.
– In addition, the pressure on student housing is increasing, where foreign students naturally often have preferential rights – a purpose for which the state also spends large amounts annually. We pay when we study abroad, they should pay here, he wrote.
The Hurdal platform: Should be free
When the government now, according to NRK’s sources, introduces tuition fees for foreign students in Norway, questions will be asked as to whether the Labor Party and the Center Party are going against their own government declaration.
The Hurdalsplattformen states that higher education in Norway must be free, also for international students.
The Progress Party has long fought to get rid of the scheme that makes it possible for international students to study for free in Norway.
In a written question to Research and Higher Education Minister Ola Borten Moe (Sp), Frps Roy Steffensen refers to an estimate from the Ministry of Education and Science that international students cost around NOK 3.5 billion annually.
In the question asked last year, Steffensen wanted to know whether the scheme of free studies for foreign students is to be continued.
– The government’s policy is that higher education should continue to be free in Norway, also for international students, replied Moe.
But that was then.
The Norwegian Student Organization (NSO) believes that all higher education should be free, both for Norwegian and international students.
On NSO’s website, the organization warns that it will “fight against any introduction of school fees.”