The number of foreign students that apply to Norwegian universities has significantly increased. Norway is now one of very few countries left in Europe that offer free education for international students.
"It is so expensive to live in Norway that if they charged tuition I don’t think anyone would come," Almut Nettersheim (27) tells Bergens Tidende. Nettersheim moved to Norway to practice medicine at a Norwegian hospital as part of her German medical degree.
The numbers seems to indicate that after both Sweden and Denmark introduced tuition fees for all students not part of the EU or EEA, more students choose to come to Norway instead. In only two years, the number of foreign applicants has increased by 50 percent.
Students come to Norway from countries both inside and outside of the EU. The financial crisis has led to a cut in student loans and financing in many European countries, and tuition fees have gone up at many universities.
The government has discussed what the effects will be if students continue to travel to Norway in large numbers for free schooling, but so far they don’t see a need to take action.
"There is a limit, but so far we are far away from reaching it," Hadia Tajik from the Labor party tells Bergens Tidende. She also says that Norway should be an attractive country to study in, and that the international students will strengthen Norwegian employment should they choose to stay.
Minister of Education, Tora Aasland, also confirms that implementing tuition fees is not an option at this point. "It is an important value in itself that education and knowledge is free," she says. "But I will work to make it easier for the schools to handle the high number of applicants."
9,000 international students were accepted at Norwegian educational institutions in 2011, whereas only 16,000 applied in 2009.