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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 education, drafting 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 programmes, with 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:
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.