– Another nail in the coffin

ANSA President Anders Fjelland Bentsen worries that removing the financial support to freshmen students at the American College of Norway in Moss will make it even harder for Norwegian students to study in the US.

Publisert Sist oppdatert

Norwegian students on a full degree in the US:

  • 1994-95: 2400
  • 1995-96: 2289
  • 1996-97: 2178
  • 1997-98: 2068
  • 1998-99: 1957
  • 1999-00: 1846
  • 2000-01: 1699
  • 2001-02: 1504
  • 2002-03: 1269
  • 2003-04: 1116
  • 2004-05: 982
  • 2005-06: 923
  • 2006-07: 878
  • (As of January, the numbers from 2007-2008 indicates that there are 790 people currently studying in the US. The final numbers will not be ready until March, but ANSA reports that they are not likely to increase very much.)

– This is very upsetting news and yet another nail in the coffin of student exchange between the US and Norway, Anders Fjelland Bentsen declares. He is the President of the Association for Norwegian Students Abroad (ANSA).

The comment is a response to last week’s article in Universitas on how the Norwegian State Educational Loan Fund (Lånekassen) gives financial support to students on the freshman year at the American College of Norway (ACN) in Moss, while refusing to give support to students taking the same education in the USA.

As a result of the article, Lånekassen promised to look into the matter and the case is now up for discussion. This may lead to the end of financial support from Lånekassen to the students at ACN.

Decline in students

The number of students studying in the US has decreased immensely over the past few years, Fjelland Bentsen explains.

– We need more support schemes, not less. This is going in the wrong direction. The best solution would be for everyone to receive support, including the ones doing a freshman year in the US, he argues.

Benson K. Whitney, the US Ambassador to Norway, has also aired his concern over the negative development.

– This is very unfortunate. It is a great loss, he says.

The Ambassador has been an advocate for the exchange programs in the United States, and he emphasises that having Norwegian students in the US is essential for the good relationship that exists between the two countries.

– It is definitely upsetting to see the decline of Norwegian students in the US. It is a real danger to the relationship between our countries, he adds.

Out of the question

Kyrre Lekve, Political Advisor at the Ministry of Research and Higher Education, says that ANSA’s suggestion to reintroduce the support to students doing the freshman year is out of the question.

– We have no wish to change the support schemes, which are there to ensure a certain level of competence within higher education, he comments.

Fjelland Bentsen does not think that the argumentation from the government is good enough.

– The Ministry of Education always claims that since most of the European countries do not recognise the freshman year, neither should Norway. This is true, but the fact is that Sweden is one of the countries that do support the education.

According to the Swedish Loan Fund, CSN, 3307 Swedish students in the United States received financial support for the second half of 2007. This was a downturn from the period of 2006-2007 when the number was 3871, but it is still far above the Norwegian number of students at the same time.

– A great loss

Kyrre Lekve maintains that the Ministry of Education has no intention of following in Sweden’s footsteps on this matter.

– Norwegian educational policy doesn’t work like that. We focus on competence, he says.

Ambassador Whitney has no doubt that Lånekassen’s lack of support will have its consequences.

– To lose so many people and all this competence will mean losing a very important opportunity to collaboration between Norway and the United States. It would be a great loss.

Lekve on the other hand, does not agree with the US Ambassador:

– I believe that the relationship between our two countries is stronger than that.

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