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Some of Norway's international schools 'could be forced to close' over planned cuts

Frazer Norwell
Frazer Norwell - [email protected]
Some of Norway's international schools 'could be forced to close' over planned cuts
Norway's international schools could be forced to close over a cut to subsidies. Pictured is a student at a school.Photo by Compare Fibre on Unsplash

Norway plans to cut the subsidies it provides to combined primary and secondary private and international schools, something which education institutions say will lead to teacher cuts and potential closures.


Norway's government plans to save 515 million kroner by 2028 by cutting subsidies given to those private and international schools that combine primary and secondary education.

In other words those schools which offer both primary and secondary education will have their government funding cut.

The higher per-pupil cost of operating private schools due to their smaller size means the government provides extra grants for the first 40-50 students at private schools.

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

Combined schools receive these grants twice, once for the first students at the primary level and once again for the first students at the secondary level.

Norway's government has claimed that this wasn't the intention of the current system and that a new altered system will see schools receive the extra funding just once across the whole school.

But international school heads have been left confused by the government's plan and deeply concerned that it may force some to close their doors.

"To be perfectly frank, most combined primary and secondary schools will be forced to close. It's as simple as that," Andrew Gregory, business manager at Kongsberg International School, told The Local.

"Short-term, it will vary from school to school. We have been saving for a new building, so we will be able to ride out a storm. Other schools will not be in our position," Gregory said.

"They claim that it was never the intention that combined primary and secondary schools should have received the amount we have. I asked them how they knew that this was not the intention. They couldn't answer this. So we can only speculate as to how they have arrived at that conclusion," Gregory 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 the short term, the cuts would represent a significant cut to the budgets of most international schools. For most schools, this would amount to between 20-30 percent of their budgets, according to figures the Education Ministry provided schools with.

While some schools can raise fees to compensate for the shortfall, others will most likely need to cut back on teachers and staff.


"If schools are going to try and survive by cutting such a significant amount of their costs, then salary is really the first and perhaps only place to look," Gregory said.

"The largest group of employees in a school are teachers and teaching assistants. So yes, this would certainly be felt in the classroom. We believe that such a level of cost-cutting would mean such a drop in quality that schools are not able to operate in a safe and proper manner."

Additionally, private schools in Norway which receive government funding have their fees capped, meaning only schools charging below the maximum will be able to raise prices to make up for the shortfall.

Schools also won't be able to skirt around the rules by breaking up the combined offer.

"The natural reaction to this news for many schools would be to split up the schools into separate primary and secondary schools," Gregory said.

"From a pedagogical and ideological perspective, this is something we do not wish to do, but we would naturally do it to ensure our survival. However, the government has simultaneously banned schools from doing this.

"I asked the Department of Education about the reason for this, but this was again something that they couldn't or wouldn't explain. One can again only speculate as to why this is so," he added.


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