Non-negotiable tuition free education for all

Initiative for Free Education, Trondheim, stands united against the proposal to introduce tuition fees for non-EU/EEA students and demand the government to repeal it.

Some posters from the protest being organized this afternoon.

First and foremost, the proposal violates the fundamental principle of the Norwegian education policy that all education should be free for everyone.

Norway has one of the world’s most accessible education systems that has educated the most competent researchers, creative professionals, doctors, engineers who have gone on to create impactful research and innovation for the Norwegian society and the world – and there’s no doubt that NTNU is at the forefront of this. The students that come here are from diverse backgrounds with a plurality of perspectives. The university has allowed students to thrive, challenge themselves and their Norwegian and European colleagues, creating an educational environment that is cooperative, diverse, and that brings out the best in each other.

The minister says that people should chose to come to Norway to study for its quality and not subsidy. Conflating the two is a fallacy, one doesn’t determine the other. Paying tuition fee is not equal to good quality education as examples across the world will show. Norway’s high quality education should not be made into a scarcity, a luxury only for the few elites from the rest of the world. This also goes against the basic principles and conventions of the right to education, a UN sustainability development goal (4) that Norway is a signatory to, a guardian and adamant preacher of.

As we face unprecedented challenges with the climate crisis and gather momentum towards a green transition, we need to make sure that no one is left behind. A concerted effort has to be made to educate all, in the highest quality educational settings, to enable the best way to navigate the crisis and empower young, hard-working, creative and inventive students with the knowledge to create a better world, not only a better Norway or Europe. Tuition free education for all claims an important responsibility to develop real cross-disciplinary knowledge in order to address the complex challenges facing us. Cross-disciplinarity is complemented by diversity across cultures, class, caste, religion, ethnicity, gender and sexuality. Norway holds a unique position and rather than giving up on this should uphold it.

Moreover, the reasoning behind this proposal, as stated by the minister, is blatantly discriminatory and perverse. To say that all students from non-EU countries must pay a tuition fee because Norwegian students do the same, blindsides some fundamental differences and puts the idea of same-ness over equality. Furthermore, it doesn’t take into account the living costs paid by non-EU/EEA students to ensure their visa that amounts to NOK 128 887 for each year of study. It also does not take into account the visa fee of NOK 5900 paid every year because the UDI gives student visas for one year at a time even though they might be enrolled in a 2-year study programme, an exceptional case in Europe. Lastly, it does not even consider the exorbitant cost of living in one of the most expensive countries in the world. Not to mention, this comparison is baseless since Norwegian students can apply for student loans, paid off on low interest, over 20 years, even when they study abroad. In addition, based on their degree and the school they go to, a large amount of this can constitute a scholarship.

Today, as we face one crisis after another of global and planetary scale, the last thing we need is a proposal that restricts exchange of knowledge. Instead, we need to make sure that the important job of education continues without economic obstacles. Therefore, we request you to stand united with us and demand that the proposal for tuition-fees for non-EU/EEA students be repealed immediately.