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How Norway's government plans to cut funding for private schools

Frazer Norwell
Frazer Norwell - [email protected]
How Norway's government plans to cut funding for private schools
Norway's government will change how its subsidies work for private schools. Pictured is a student in a school. Photo by Redd F on Unsplash

Funding to private schools in Norway, including international schools, which offer joint primary and middle school education, will be cut under proposals put forward in the Norwegian state budget for 2024. 


The Norwegian government said that more grants had been awarded than intended under the current subsidy model and that it would be cutting back in order to save 515 million kroner by 2028. 

"For the government, it is important that the financing system for private schools makes it possible to run high-quality private schools throughout the country. Today's calculation practice for combined schools has, however, meant that many have received more in grants than intended. We have to clean that up," Tonje Brenna, Minister for Education, said in a government announcement

Private schools in Norway operate under a funding model that sees the government provide a basic subsidy per student. Additional funding is offered for the first 40-50 students. 

The additional funding was implemented because private schools were more costly to run due to their smaller size. For schools that offer both primary and middle school education, the subsidy is applied to the first 40-50 students at primary level and then again to the first 40-50 students at middle school level. 

Government grants and subsidies correspond to around 85 percent of private schools' expenditure on students per pupil. 

The government has proposed ending this in its state budget by only applying the subsidy for the first 40-50 students across the whole school. 

"This is a necessary clean-up, it is not right that certain schools receive more in grants than they should have had. It is important that the funding for our public and private schools is fair so that people can have confidence in how the money is distributed, and parents can feel confident that their children are getting a good offer in both public and private schools. I have a responsibility to manage the community's resources in a good way," Brenna said. 

The changes to the subsidy would be phased in until the autumn of 2028 if given the green light by parliament. The government said the transition period would allow schools to reduce expenses or increase fees to compensate for lost subsidies. 


In its proposed change, the government has claimed that while subsidies to private schools will be reduced, 254 out of 266 schools will still receive more or equal grants per pupil than state schools. 

However, the government said it would provide grants to private schools far from public schools and represent the only practical solution for parents. Private schools that are 10km from the nearest public school will be allowed to apply for extra subsidies if the education institute has proved it has lost out due to the proposed change to subsidies. 

Parliament hasn't given the proposals a majority vote just yet. The current government is a minority one and relies on the support of the Socialist Left Party to get a parliamentary majority for its budgets. 

This means some policy areas are tweaked and changed during negotiations with the Socialist Left Party. 


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