Tuition fees For Members

What we know so far about Norway's plan to bring in tuition fees for foreign students

Robin-Ivan Capar
Robin-Ivan Capar - [email protected]
What we know so far about Norway's plan to bring in tuition fees for foreign students
The government doesn't have a majority in the Norwegian parliament, so it needs to get support for its budget proposal from other parliamentary parties. Photo by Kyle Gregory Devaras / Unsplash

The Norwegian government recently announced its plan to introduce tuition fees for some international students in Norway. Here's what we know so far and whether there's any chance the proposal might not get the green light.


In its 2023 state budget proposal, announced earlier this month, the Norwegian government included plans to introduce tuition fees for international students studying in Norway.

Who would the fee apply to?

At the moment, foreign students do not have to pay tuition in the country. However, should the new budget pass through the parliament, students from outside the European Economic Area (EEA) and Switzerland (students from countries in EEA will be exempt) will have to start paying fees from and including the autumn semester of 2023.


As The Local reported on Thursday, the fee would apply to international students who complete their education in Norway and not to exchange students who only spend part of their education at Norwegian institutions.

What do we know about the likely fee?

Though the exact pricing details have not been published yet, it is known that each educational institution will have the discretion of setting the tuition fee.

The ministry has stated that the tuition will have to cover at least all the expenses that a public university usually has in relation to an international student that is studying in Norway. 

Director of Academic Affairs at the University of Stavanger, Veslemøy Hagen, told The Local that it is still "too early to say" anything on the exact pricing, while Odd Vegard Kandal-Wright, Communication Officer at the University of Bergen, said that "a possible tuition fee would depend on the level or program" involved.

The fees will also only apply to new enrolments so those foreign students already studying on courses in Norway won't have to pay fees from Autumn 2023.

The government have provided estimates on how much institutions may charge students to cover costs. 

Students required to pay fees if the government’s budget proposals for 2023 pass through parliament could have to fork out around 130,000 kroner a year in tuition, public broadcaster NRK reports. 

The estimate was provided to NRK by State Secretary for Education Oddmund Løkensgard Hoel. 

Private universities in Norway already charge tuition fees for international students, with prices roughly ranging from €7,000 to €9,000 per year for BA programmes and anything over €9,000 per year for MA programmes.

Maika Marie Godal Dam, the leader of the Norwegian Student Organization (NSO), told The Local that fees will likely vary among the country's public universities.

"What we know at the current point in time is that it will be up to each institution to define how much they will take in when it comes to tuition. It will be different between different institutions if the proposal is adopted at the end of November," she said.

"However, the ministry has said that the fee needs to cover at least the cost incurred by the institution for the individual international student, but the institution can decide to set the fee even higher if they want to."


She added that her organization openly opposes the proposal as a matter of principle.

"We've made it very clear that we don't support this proposal because, for us, it's a fundamental right to free education. The government's proposal to introduce a tuition fee for some students goes against the principle," she said.

"We're worried that this will lead to the government introducing tuition fees to more of the education offered in Norway, and that this is only the first step."

Could the plan be scrapped?

The government, led by the Labour Party (AP) and the Centre Party (SP), doesn't have a majority in the Norwegian parliament (Storting), so it needs to get support for its budget from other parliamentary parties.

As the Socialist Left Party (SV) is the government's preferred budget partner, the SV could become a key factor in determining the future of tuition practices for international students in Norway.

And it seems that the SV plans to fight for tuition-free education for international students in Norway.

A press officer for the SV told The Local that Freddy André Øvstegård, the party's Education Policy Spokesperson has said the SV is against such tuition fees.


"We need more international exchange in higher education, not less. In the situation we are in now, it would be very wrong to close ourselves off from the world... If this is the way the government wants to face the crisis, it is an unwise way to do it. In times of crisis, we must stand together in the world," Øvstegård is quoted as saying.

"If the government decides to follow through on this, they will breach their own government platform. They have 100 percent of the responsibility for not breaking their own promises, so they have to make this right themselves," Øvstegård added.


Budget negotiations

However, while Øvstegård points out that - ultimately - the government should be held responsible, the SV could undoubtedly play a deciding role in settling the issue during the upcoming budget negotiations.

In practice, it will likely be the only factor of political pressure with sufficient influence to have the tuition proposal changed or dropped.

For its side, the Student Organization plans to make sure that the SV commits to getting the proposal dropped.

"We will try our best to do two things moving forward, during the budget negotiations. Firstly, say "no" to tuition fees; we won't support the proposal. We will make it clear to the SV that this is our position.

"Secondly, we will fight to improve the personal finances of students; this has been a priority for us in the NSO for a long time. We will also communicate this to the SV during the budget negotiations," Godal Dam said.


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