Stay in the loop! Subscribe to our mailing list

2023 budgets in Germany and Norway – international education ups and downs

On 25 November, the German Bundestag approved the 2023 state budget, including EUR 21.46 billion for education and research, with a record increase of EUR 891.1 million compared to last year.

One of the main changes compared to the government draft are one-off payments for higher education and vocational education students in the amount of EUR 200. Additional increases are also planned for BAföG to compensate for students’ heating costs (EUR 1.81 billion in total for students in post-secondary education).

When it comes to international education, the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) will get ca. EUR 31 million increase in basic (institutional) funding for the coming year compared to the original draft budget. The basic funding provided by Federal Foreign Office will rise from a planned EUR 191 million (which would have been a reduction of around EUR 13 million compared to the 2021 budget) to ca. EUR 222 million, according to the decisions of the Budget Committee for 2023. DAAD’s aim is to use these additional funds to reverse the cuts in short-term programmes, long-term scholarships and lectureships announced in the summer, and implement support measures for people from Ukraine and Iran, as expected by the Bundestag. DAAD’s funding from the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) (ca. EUR 200 million) and the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) (ca. EUR 57 million) has also been slightly increased to strengthen support for Ukraine and cooperation with partner institutions from the Global South.

While the potential international education budget cuts have been averted in Germany, Norway’s 2023 budgetary negotiations have sparked a debate about international students’ financial contribution to study costs. The Norwegian government proposed that all new international students from outside the EEA area and Switzerland must pay tuition fees starting from the autumn semester 2023.

The government’s intention is to recover costs of education and diversify institutions’ income sources, estimating 2023 and 2025 tuition fees income at the level of NOK74.4 million (EUR 7.23 million) and NOK297.7 million (EUR 28.9 million), respectively. The savings to higher education are estimated to be NOK1.2 billion (EUR 116 million). The expectation is also to increase the overall quality of education through the attraction of fewer but more motivated international students.

International exchange students are not concerned by the proposal, as Norway is seeking to expand the number of students visiting the country, based on exchange agreements with partner institutions around the world. The decision on the proposed tuition fees and the (international) higher education and research budget will be made in mid-December.