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Norway – White Paper on student mobility sets ambitious goals 

On 30 October 2020, the Norwegian Minister for Higher education and Research, Henrik Asheim, presented a White Paper on student mobility entitled A World of Opportunities: International student mobility in higher educationdrafting national policy until 2027.  

 The ambitions outlined in the policy document, which is to be further discussed in the Norwegian Parliament, are high. The government wants 50% of students to experience a stay abroad during their studies, as a long-term goal. The current rate in Norway is of 16% of students taking study abroad periods, i.e. 4 percentage points below the Bologna target for 2020. 

 The White Paper calls for a change of culture, where mobility should be regarded as the norm, rather than the exception. This will entail transitioning from the current “opt-in” arrangement for mobility, to an “opt-out” one. Higher education institutions will be encouraged to set up mobility windows in all study programmeswith the possibility of opt-out arrangements for students who do not wish to go on mobility abroad; the respective students will have to actively de-select the mobility component, rather than to select to opt-in, as it is currently the case. 

Five sets of measures are outlined as contributing to this cultural shift: 

  • Inclusion of student mobility in strategic work to strengthen quality and relevance in higher education. 
  • Basing student exchanges on international institutional collaborations, where both research and student mobility are involved. 
  • Regulations and funding models stimulating increased student mobility. 
  • Agreement from leadership at the institutions, the academic and administrative staff and the students themselves to contribute to the cultural change. 
  • Employers demanding and appreciating students’ international experiences. 

 Another key message in the paper is a priority for students going to non-English speaking destinations, and to Norway’s main priority partner countries (both in Europe and beyond). 
The EU programmes, especially Erasmus+, are seen as important contributors to reaching the goals set out in the White Paper.  

 A translation of the document, which is currently only available in Norwegian, is expected in spring 2021. 

More information (in Norwegian only)