BM84: Stop the Introduction of Tuition Fees in Norway

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In the national budget of 2023, the Norwegian Parliament has decided to introduce
tuition fees for international students from outside the European Economic Area and
Switzerland. This implies that the higher education institutions are forced to demand
a cost-covering fee, from the fall of 2023. This budget proposal will also be followed
by a change in the law, by introducing a new group of students in Norwegian higher
education, third-country students.
Norway has for many years been one of the last countries in Europe where higher
education is free of charge. The introduction of tuition fees will break one of the most
important principles of the Norwegian education system – the principle of free
education. Moreover, it is also in conflict with the ruling government’s political
platform, which states that: Higher education in Norway will be free of cost, also for
international students. With the introduction of tuition fees, the government violate
their own platform and their own political programmes.
Country after country introduces tuition fees for international students, and we have
witnessed massive demonstrations against high tuition fees and poor education all
across Europe. One of the main reasons why ESU opposes the introduction of tuition
fees for some groups of students, is that it can quickly lead to more and more
students having to pay for higher education. We are afraid that this opens a door that
may be difficult to close, but rather has an accelerating effect. This has been the case
in several countries in Europe, e.g Great Britain and Ireland.
Furthermore, we have seen the introduction of tuition fees affect the student bodies in
the Nordic countries heavily in the past decade. In Denmark, tuition fees were
introduced in 2006. This led to a decrease of 42% in the number of third-country
students in 2006, with a further decrease of 13% in 2007. In Sweden, it was introduced
in 2011, leading to a decrease of approximately 79% in the number of third-country
students. Lastly, in Finland, tuition fees were introduced in 2017. This led to a decrease
of 36% in the number of third-country students.

ESU believes that:
The principle of equal right to education should be the keystone in Norwegian higher
education policy.
Higher education should be the government’s responsibility, and the government
should ensure a society that is not characterized by social and economic class
divides. The introduction of tuition fees would make education available only to the
affluent, and not to the whole of the population. It is not a goal in itself for everyone to
pursue higher education, but the opportunity should be equal for all, regardless of
their socio-economic background. Education is an important tool to ensure social
mobility, and the introduction of tuition fees will undermine the principle of equal

ESU believes that:
Higher education is not a commodity.
Higher education has greater societal value. Education should therefore be on par
with other social measures that benefit society, rather than with market goods that
can be bought and sold. Higher education is essential for the development of society,
and benefits society as much as the individual, to have a highly educated population.
It will harm academia if students are redefined from active participants in the
academic community to consumers. Higher education in Norway is the government’s
responsibility, primarily in terms of funding.

ESU believes that:
The introduction of tuition fees will not improve the quality of education.
The quality of education is created by strong academic disciplines, good education
policies, and engaged academics. The quality of education is not created by
students who are able to pay. If institutions receive money from students, there is no
guarantee that the state subsidy will be maintained. Therefore, institutions may end
up with no more funding than they initially had.

International students, from all over the world, are an enormous resource for the
student body, the institutions, and Norwegian society as a whole. They increase the
quality of education as they bring a diversity of cultures, perspectives, and opinions
to the public and academic debates. The introduction of tuition fees for third-country
students will lead to a more homogeneous student body, and make diversity and
quality in higher education stagnate.

ESU believes that:
The introduction of tuition fees will threaten smaller professions and disciplines.
It is important that the educational system reflects the needs of society, meanwhile
allowing for personal interests, and development. The introduction of tuition fees may
lead to smaller, and increasingly niche-oriented educational programs being
eliminated as they are not as economically profitable as larger programs. This could
affect small, specialized fields within most study areas, but particularly important
identity-creating fields such as art, culture, and language, as well as important areas
of knowledge within both science and social science fields.

ESU believes that:
The introduction of tuition fees will hinder student mobility.
The Bologna process is based on the idea of an open Europe, with free flow of
knowledge. The introduction of tuition fees will largely determine which students
outside Europe have the opportunity to come to Norway to study. Many third
country-students will lose the opportunity to study in Norway, and education in
Norway will only be available for an international elite. This may lead the higher
education institutions to focus on the students who generate profit, rather than
striving to attract the best students.

ESU believes that:

Increased internationalisation is necessary to answer the global questions of
This will weaken Norway’s opportunity and ability to solve the global challenges of
tomorrow. Internationalisation is important to reach the Sustainable Development
Goals (SDGs) because it facilitates knowledge sharing, collaboration, and
cooperation across countries and institutions. SDGs are a global agenda that
requires concerted efforts from all countries and stakeholders to achieve.
Internationalisation also helps create diverse and inclusive learning environments
that fosters intercultural understanding and empathy. Which enhances the quality of
education and contributes to the development of a more globally competent
workforce that is equipped to address complex global challenges.

ESU believes that:
Affluent countries need to contribute more to higher education globally.
As a rich, developed and peaceful country, Norway needs to take their international
responsibility. The introduction of tuition fees will lead to only those with the best
financial resources from third countries being able to pursue education in Norway.
Tuition fees will be another barrier to attracting international students to Norway.
Norway is one of the world’s most expensive countries to live in, and in addition it is
required for international students to demonstrate that they have enough money to
live on during their education.
Free education is a competitive advantage for attracting competent students to
Norway, and not just those with a lot of money. In the Norwegian media in the past
months, we have already seen several examples of talented students who would not
have had the opportunity to come to Norway if tuition fees had been implemented.

ESU demands that:
The Norwegian government bans tuition fees for international students in Norway.

Proposer: NSO, Norway


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