ISU Norway comments on the Norwegian State Budget 2016-2017

1. Norwegian State Budget
On 6th October, the 2016-2017 Norwegian state budget was released amidst the excitement that comes with the budget announcement. In light of last year’s discontinuation of the quota scheme, the International Students’ Union of Norway (ISU-Norway) was eagerly awaiting this year’s budget announcement. A positive outcome of this year’s proposed budget is that no specific issue emerged that negatively affects the welfare of international students in higher education in Norway.

2. Internationalization of education at home
However, ISU continues to support the interests of international students independently and in collaboration with our key partners. In this regard, we show solidarity with these like-minded organizations that champion for academic freedom and welfare of international students as part of their agenda. ISU therefore states that any intention or action to limit our partners from achieving their mandate through reduced budget allocation will be opposed categorically.For instance, ISU has a focus this year to improve student mobility and internationalization of education at home. For that purpose, on 19th October ISU National President met with BjørnHaugstad (Ministry of Education-Secretary of State) and ANSA President. ISU would like to show their support to ANSA, who appreciates that the Norwegian government realizes how difficult it has become for Norwegian students abroad to afford increasingly high tuition fees. However, is very unfortunate that they have decided to push the entire bill over onto the students by offering a new “extra loan” of 100 000 NOK without any of it being given as a grant/scholarship. ISU believes this affects all students in Norway (Norwegians and internationals) who wants to take part of their degree abroad, as they will struggle to get the 100 000 extra NOK.
Therefore:
• ISU asks the Norwegian government to reconsider the case and evaluate the options to offer a grant/scholarship for students in Norway going to study abroad

3. Full degree program for students from developing countries
Moreover,ISU stands for free education for all students in higher education in Norway. Introducing tuition fees for any section of students in higher education will be tantamount to violation of their individual right to education and also against the spirit of internationalization of higher education in Norway. In this situation, ISU believes is important to address two cases that influence internationalization of education, as well as international students’ finances.
ISU believes that funding for 4-5 million Norwegian kroners could be an opportunity to offer 50-100 students (we are up to discuss the exact number of students) from developing countries to come to Norway for a two years’ program, and gain a high value knowledge education; this would allow these students to improve their home countries economy when they will return after they complete their studies. This was the focus of the former Quota Scheme to provide education for students from developing countries; we believe that a two-year trial program for 50-100 students would allow for an opportunity to be able to properly evaluate the program outcomes. The limited amount of money asked of 4-5 million Norwegian kroners divided in two years, will create a real impact on the economy of developing countries, support aid development assistance, and improve Norwegian foreign policy with students as the best ambassadors Norway can have.
Therefore:
• ISU asks the Norwegian government and all Norwegian political parties, to meet ISU and discuss the inclusion of a full degree program for students from developing countries.

4. VISA renewal process and fees for international students outside EU/EEA
ISU discussed the complexity of VISA renewal process for international students outside EU/EEA area that can take up to 3 months, and discussed with the Ministry of Education on 19th October, possible ways to simplify the process and the possibility to eliminate the visa renewal fee of 3200 NOK , that affects international students’ finances in addition to present the 103950 NOK deposit to UDI .
Therefore:
• ISU asks the Norwegian government to discuss with ISU the removal of visa renewal fees for international students outside EU/EEA area

ISU Norway Norwegian State Budget Working Group 2016
Eric, Daniel, Alyssa, Ibrahim
Contact e-mail: nationalpresident@isu-norway.no

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