We at the International Students’ Union of Norway are saddened by Høyre's first draft of its new party program that seeks to introduce tuition fees for Non-EEA and Swiss international students. Høyre has done a 180 degree turn from its current party program where it focuses on continuing the free principle in education.
This news has come as a shock to us since the current government has had internationalisation in higher education at the heart of its higher education policy the past few years. The introduction of tuition fees would work to create larger differences in access to higher education, especially when it comes to access to students from lower socio-economic levels, and undermine the very principle of internationalisation.
International students currently struggle enough with the financial requirements they have to meet for their student visas. Few students would be able to pay these financial requirements along with semester tuition costs, thus leading to a drastic decrease in the presence of international students here in Norway.
How can internationalisation in higher education take place if there is a small minority of international students in the higher education system?
This policy should not only be a major concern for international students. By setting the precedent of tuition-fees for one group of students, the movement to tuition fees for all students, both international and Norwegian, becomes an easier step.
We strongly call on Høyre to return to its focus on investing in education and the free principle in higher education. This will not only benefit international students in Norway, but also the higher education system as a whole.