Universities face uncertainty with impending fee regime

Norwegian universities face uncertainty and lack of information as they grapple with managing international student applications amid the upcoming tuition fee regime. The minister of research and higher education has declined to address the issue, leaving universities in a challenging position.

During a conference on January 10, 2023, Minister Ola Borten Moe stated that reopening the debate on the introduction of fees for non-European Union-European Economic Area (EU-EEA) and Swiss students would not be productive.

Moe stated that the decision has been made in favor of introducing fees, with the government, Conservative Party, Socialist Left Party, and Progressive Party all supporting it. Therefore, he deemed it unproductive to reopen the debate.

He stated that if the sector fails to determine the appropriate pricing for tuition fees, both Moe and the ministry will take charge and handle the task in the initial phase.

The uncertainty regarding the commencement of tuition fees arises from the fact that the new legislation required for the implementation has not yet been approved by parliament.

During a parliamentary session on December 9, 2022, Alfred Jens Bjørlo, a representative of the Liberal Party, expressed that he had received numerous concerns from higher education institutions offering study programs to international students, who are now apprehensive about the sustainability of their programs.

Bjørlo inquired from Moe about the number of master’s degree programs that currently have more than 20% of international students from outside the EU-EEA, and sought information from the minister regarding the fate of these master’s programs in the upcoming autumn term of 2023.

In response, Moe acknowledged that Norway is highly favored among international students and expressed his desire for it to remain an attractive destination. He stated that, excluding master’s degree study programs with fewer than 10 students, there are currently 943 such programs.

Moreover, he informed that out of these, 190 programs have 20% or more students from outside the EU-EEA, according to the available information.

“The student population is spread across Norway and includes individuals who are not Norwegian citizens, as well as those with foreign citizenship who have been long-term residents in Norway. The proposal to introduce tuition fees has been subject to open discussions, and I will now thoroughly assess the received feedback before finalizing the regulations.”

The remarks made by Moe on January 10, 2023, expressing his reluctance for a “re-match” on the tuition-fee matter, caused confusion and disappointment among the higher education institutions. However, it also highlighted the fact that many of these institutions had not yet initiated preparations for a tuition fee system.

The headline of an article published in Khrono on January 20, 2023, read: “Widespread Uncertainty Surrounding the Status of Tuition Fees.”

According to the report, the leaders of higher education institutions are describing the situation as both uncertain and disheartening. Furthermore, the report states that some institutions are now contemplating reducing the number of international students they admit.

A committee has been established by the four major Norwegian universities—Oslo, Bergen, Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU-Trondheim), and Tromsø—to develop a framework for calculating the tuition fees. The committee is anticipated to release its report in early February.




Source : universityworldnews.com

By Ryan

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