Why Norway has edged closer towards introducing tuition fees for international students
While the Norwegian government's plan to introduce tuition for some international students in Norway has attracted a lot of criticism, as things now stand, the proposal is likely to be passed by parliament.
In its state budget proposal for next year, the Norwegian government announced that it plans to introduce tuition fees for some international students studying in the country.
The proposal is widely seen as a U-turn in the government's education policy, as, at the moment, international students do not have to pay tuition in the country.
Should the new budget – and with it, the tuition proposal – pass through the parliament without changes, 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.
Note that the fee would apply to international students who complete their education in Norway and not exchange students who only spend part of their education at Norwegian educational institutions.
Socialist Left Party to avoid tuition issue during negotiations
The current government doesn't have a majority in the Norwegian parliament (Storting), meaning that it needs to get support for its budget proposal from other parliamentary parties.
The oppositional Socialist Left Party (SV) – which, on a general level, opposes the introduction of tuition fees for international students in Norway – is the government's preferred budget partner.
However, it seems that the SV is unwilling to champion international students during the currently ongoing budget negotiations. Instead, it will likely preserve political capital to get other concessions from the governing parties.
In an email to The Local on Tuesday, the SV's spokesperson for education policy, Freddy Andre Øvstegård, stated that, while his party continues to strongly oppose the introduction of tuition fees for international students in Norway, it would not be raising the issue during the negotiations.
"The Socialist Left Party disagrees strongly with the idea of tuition fees for international students. It represents a closing off of Norway to the rest of the world, which to me seems to be the complete opposite of what Norwegian education policy should be doing.
"What makes the introduction of tuition fees all the more strange is that it is in direct violation of the principles in the government's own policy platform. This is why the SV has been clear it will not be raising the issue during the budget negotiations.
"Our principle is that we will not spend political capital fixing the government's own broken promises. This has been an important principle for us and ensures that the government does not make speculative cuts," Øvstegård told The Local, adding that he "can't comment further than that on what is happening" in the "ongoing negotiations."
No one left to fight for international students?
With the SV deciding not to use its position in the negotiations to influence the future of tuition practices for international students in Norway, the proposal is now more likely to pass.
The deadline for the parties to reach an agreement on the 2023 budget is November 25th, but it is not uncommon for such negotiation deadlines to be extended.
In recent weeks, the SV has expressed frustration with the slow progress of the negotiations, warning that time was "running out."