Tag: tuition fees

National systems for student fees and support systems in Europe – Eurydice report

Eurydice has published a report that looks into student fees and support systems across Europe for 2016/2017 study year. The report provides an overview of key developments in Europe in this area, as well as more detailed national case studies.

Tuition fees and student support are a national issue, but under EU legislation, countries must accept other EU national on same terms as own nationals. However, behind this main logic the content of student fees and student support includes a multitude of practices. Furthermore, the report highlights that there is a significant difference in the amount of public funding provided (see also EUAs Public Funding Observatory for more information).

The data shows that there are four countries with no fees for students, and twelve countries that have universal fees. The report also analyses the relationship between fees and support, arguing that relationship to be crucial in understanding the reality students are facing. Countries are divided into four specific types, distinguishing between high and low (or no) share of fee paying students in the system, and high and low share of those getting grants. 

Obama introduces free community college plan in the US

Last week, 9th of January, Obama introduced his new plan for free community college during his visit to Tennessee. Obama reportedly commented on this: “For millions of Americans, community colleges are essential pathways to the middle class. I want to make it free.”

A video preview to the initiative was posted earlier on the White House Facebook page.


While all the financial details are not clear yet, the plan is indeed ambitious and is reported to cost approximately 60 billion dollars over 10 years – the key idea is that federal funds would cover 3/4 and state funds the remaining part. The proposal is that free tuition would be conditional – students would be expected to maintain a 2,5 GPA, be minimum part-time students and assure progression through their studies.

According to the American Associaytion of Community Colleges, there are over 1100 community colleges in the US, catering to nearly 13 million students (2012), representing almost half of all the undergraduate students in the US. 60% of the students are part time, and many work aside their studies. About one third of the students are first generation to attend college. In principle the sector has already been known for relatively lower tuition levels than one would find in the universities. The degrees awarded are associate degrees and various certificates. While many of the students already receive various kinds of state and federal financial aid, nearly 30% of the revenues for the institutions come from tuition fees.


Student blogger: Tuition fees for non-EU/EEA students in Norway – who will bear the brunt of it?

Hedda master student Ammar Bahadur Singh

Hedda master student
Ammar Bahadur Singh

These days, Norwegian government is discussing the new national budget where a number of changes have been proposed. One of the proposed changes has been the introduction of tuition fees to non-EU/EEA students. While we are waiting for the decision, one of Hedda master students, Ammar Bahadur Singh has examined some of the implications of such fees for students from developing countries. 

Following the footsteps of its closest neighbors, Norwegian government in its state budget of 2015 proposed to introduce tuition fees for international students outside the EU/EEA and Switzerland. If implemented, it would directly affect the students mainly from developing countries, rather the students from other countries like the US, the UK, Canada, Australia, etc.  Denmark introduced tuition fees in 2006, Sweden in 2011, Finland in 2010 on a trial basis and the trial period is coming to an end this year, Norwegian conservative government is struggling harder to impose tuition despite strong opposition from student communities, and Iceland has not taken any initiatives in this regard, though all students must pay and annual administration fee of approximately £350.

Nordic countries are known as the front-runners in advocating, promoting and protecting the principles of equity and equality in the world, but the provision of tuition fees only for students outside EU/EEA and Switzerland goes against their own principle of equity and equality of opportunities. Why has Norway proposed to impose discriminatory provision of tuition fees?  What is the rationale behind it? If it is a business, why does the same principle not apply to all students (domestic and international) as it is in the US, the UK, Canada, etc.?

The Norwegian government led by conservative party proposed the tuition fees soon after it came into power in 2013. The parliament strongly rejected it. This year the same government has also put forward the same proposal for imposing tuition fees for international students outside EU/EEA and Switzerland. Students’ parliaments, many universities professors, international students’ union (ISU), etc. have strongly opposed the proposal saying that it would jeopardize the principle of free education, which is the cornerstone of the development of welfare state. The proposal is the blatant violation of this principle. They argue that the introduction of tuition fees is the first step of introducing tuition fees for all as the Netherlands, Ireland and the UK has done and that finally, no one will get free education.

However, the conservative circles of politicians and student wings supporting them have put forward some arguments in support of their proposal for imposing tuition fees for international students. They argue that their closest neighbors have already introduced tuition fees and they don’t want international students out EU/EEA coming to Norway simply because of cost-free education, but for quality education. Second, the provision of free education can lead to a degradation of quality and introduction of tuition fees will ensure quality in higher education. Third, why should Norwegian taxpayers subsidize international students who pay tuition fees back home and in other countries for higher education?  Fourth, they are attempting to limit the meaning of the long standing political consensus for free higher education only to Norwegian students, not for others.

Recorded seminar on consumerism in American higher education

We are delighted to share with you another seminar recording from the research group HEIK (Higher Education: Institutional dynamics and Knowledge cultures). HEIK is a research group located at the Faculty of Educational Sciences in University of Oslo, the coordinating institution of Hedda.

Professor Christopher Morphew  (University of Iowa)

Professor Christopher Morphew
(University of Iowa)

This time, we are pleased to feature professor Christopher Morphew from University of Iowa who visited University of Oslo in June 2014 and gave a presentation titled: “Academic Consumerism: The American Advantage?

Listen without the Flashplayer

The presentation will draw from several recent articles by Professor Morphew.

Please see: 

Report: How to assure fair participation in higher education?

reportWPHigher education systems across the world are undergoing substantial expansion, even if the starting point is in many cases substantially different. However, the general expansion trends puts focus on assuring that this widening participation also reaches under-represented groups. How to assure that widening participation also means fair participation?

HEFCE, the Higher Education Funding Council in England, has commissioned a new report that examines six national case studies that detail effective approaches to widening participation strategy and practices. The main goal was to identify “what works”, what are some of the identified good practices. The case studies focus on impact and effectiveness through multiple levels – from system level policies of widening participation to institutional level interventions.

Based on the six cases in Australia, Ireland, the Netherlands, Norway, South Africa and the United States of America (USA) the report examined some common systemic factors that influence access and progression. General educational system structure is also linked to progression to higher education. As expected, system stratification in many cases is linked to the socio-economic conditions of the particular area, and one can identify a concentration of high performing schools in more advantaged areas. Furthermore the report indicates that social class is the key determinant of both success in education and access to higher education. This class division is also seen amongst those who do go to higher education in cases where there is a more stratified higher education system. Students from higher socio-economic background tend to attend highly selective institutions with more research oriented profile, whereas those from lower socio-economic background tend to attend institutions with less prestige and more vocational/professional profile. The report suggests that focus on alternative pathways (for instance, accreditation of prior learning, options to progress to HE from vocational education, etc) can facilitate more diverse student participation.

Australia on top regarding total costs for studying

HSBC, an international banking organisation has examined study costs in 13 countries in terms of tuition and overall living costs to determine the most expensive countries to study in.

Their results indicate that Australia is with a relatively clear margin the most expensive country to study in – topping the list for both highest tuition fees as well as highest living costs. Australia is followed by US and UK in the list of most expensive countries, but the costs for studying in UK are over 20% lower than in Australia – from over 38,5 thousand dollars down to just over 30 thousand annually. It should also be noted that tuition fees in United Arab Emirates are also above those of UK, despite recent considerable increases in UK.

With a clear margin the cheapest country to study in is Germany, where average annual tuition is 625 dollars, and living costs account for 5650, about 40% of those in Australia.

Average cost of studying in 13 countries (Source: HSBC.com)

Average cost of studying in 13 countries (Source: HSBC.com)

Read the whole review here.

Guest blogger: How students become consumers of higher education

Dr. Joanna Williams
(University of Kent, UK)

In this post, dr Joanna Williams from University of Kent (UK) argues that there is a complex process by which students adopt a consumer perspective to higher education, and it is not merely tuition fees that contribute to this. 

The entry draws on her recent book “Consuming Higher Education: Why Learning Can’t Be Bought“, London: Bloomsbury. 

Recent news reports suggest the true cost of a university education for English students may be close to £100,000. It is perhaps not surprising then that students are increasingly described as ‘consumers’ of higher education (HE) (see Brown: 2011 and Molesworth, Nixon and Scullion: 2011). In Consuming Higher Education: Why Learning Can’t Be Bought I argue that the payment of university tuition fees (currently £9000 each year for English students) is a symptom rather than a cause of students being considered as consumers. Students are constructed as consumers both before entering HE and while at university by a range of government policies and institutional practices, many of which pre-date tuition fees paid by individual students. Indeed, students were first referred to as ‘customers’ of HE in government publicity in 1993, five years before they were required to pay any fees at all (see the Conservative government’s 1993 Charter for Higher Education).

Students are constructed as consumers from the moment they first begin to think about attending university. Government-sponsored websites offering guidance to school children present university as mainly concerned with future employment and material reward: ‘Higher education could boost your career prospects and earning potential … on average, graduates tend to earn substantially more  … Projected over a working lifetime, the difference is something like £100,000’. The government’s perception of the benefit of HE emerges clearly: it is to enable youngsters to get a job and earn money. Education is presented as an essentially private investment from which material rewards can be accrued. The ‘good consumer’ will shop around to choose the university that will most efficiently yield the highest return on their investment.

Guest blogger: The future higher education funding settlement – cost-sharing versus public/private substitution

Dr. Vincent Carpentier (Institute of Education, University of London)

Dr. Vincent Carpentier is Reader in History of Education at the Institute of Education, University of London. He is the Programme Leader of the MA in Higher and Professional Education and Associate Editor of the London Review of Education. His comparative research on the historical relationship between educational systems, long economic cycles and social change is located at the interface of economic history, history of education and political economy. His recent publications include Global Inequalities and Higher Education, Whose Interests Are We Serving? (Palgrave MacMillan, 2010 – co-edited with Elaine Unterhalter) and articles in various academic journals. More about his publications here.

This piece draws on the article ‘Public-Private Substitution in Higher Education: Has Cost-Sharing Gone Too Far?, Higher Education Quarterly, 66(4), 363-390, 2012.

Debates on the alternative ways of funding higher education should lead to reflect on the nature and the aim(s) of higher education. This is especially the case during crisis times which invite us to question the increasing competition between the social, political, cultural and economic rationales behind changes in higher education policies and institutional practices. How can we keep a balance between learning for its own sake and professionalisation? Is higher education a public, private or mixed good? A reflection on those issues can best be informed by interdisciplinary insights.

The principles by which a society defines what higher education is (or should be) have a strong practical impact on the design and implementation of higher education funding settlement. Key questions should be considered here. How do governments manage (or struggle) to articulate policies regarding funding, equity and quality? Who pays and who benefits from higher education? What are the implications of the rise of private funding such as fees and the emergence of private provision? What are the financial and non financial barriers to access, participation and outcome? How can these barriers be removed? How should a fair and efficient higher education system be organised? How to address these questions in an increasingly global context?

Guest blogger: Public vs private benefits – Who should pay for higher education in Australia?

Peter Bentley

This guest entry is written by Peter Bentley, who is a graduate of the Hedda master programme from 2009 and is currently working as a research fellow at the LH Martin Institute, the University of Melbourne in Australia in addition to being enrolled externally as a PhD candidate at CHEPS.

We all know that there is no such thing as “free higher education” (or “free” anything): someone has to pay. The question is who and how much. In Australia, private individuals contribute the majority of funding of tertiary education (55%), the sixth highest by OECD standards. In practice, most domestic students pay roughly 40% of the cost of their higher education through tuition fees. Australian citizens are able to defer payment until their annual income reaches $49,000 (41,000 Euros) through income contingent loans. By comparison, in Norway and other EU countries there is almost no private contribution. Still, Australian Government tuition fee subsidies cost around $6 billion per year and are likely to rise with growing enrolments. A recent report by Andrew Norton of the Grattan Institute, Graduate Winners: Assessing the public and private benefits of higher education suggests that the $6 billion government subsidies could achieve greater public benefit if spent on other services or simply returned to tax-payers through tax cuts (thus lowering the government funding of higher education).

In Australia, demand for higher education is not particularly sensitive to price. As tuition fees have increased, demand for higher education has remained high. Norton argues that this is due to high private returns and income contingent loans. He argues that most Australian students would enrol in their degrees even if tuition fees were substantially higher (e.g. 50%). In almost all fields, university graduates can expect significantly higher lifetime earnings than high school graduates. This also equates to substantial public benefits because graduates pay more income tax (compared to high school graduates) over their lifetime.

Guest blogger: The industry of (student) debt

Martina Vukasovic (University of Oslo)

In this post, Hedda associate Martina Vukasovic examines some of the puzzling features of the student loan system in the USA, highlighting the issues the system has been facing. Martina currently works at the Faculty of Education in Oslo where she is writing her doctoral dissertation on flagship universities in the Western Balkans.

On 12 May 2012 the New York Times website launched a series of articles, editorials, interactive graphs and video contributions called “Degrees of debt”, dedicated to “implications of soaring college costs and the indebtedness of students and their families” in the US. According to the series, nowadays about two thirds of bachelor level graduates borrow from public or private sources for their higher education, compared to approx. 45% in the early 90s. The average debt nationally is around 23,000 USD, but 10% of all borrowers owe more than 54,000 USD and 3% owe more than 100,000 USD.

The series includes portraits of 16 students from Ohio whose debt ranges from 15,000 to 100,000 USD, an article focusing on work as well as working conditions (salary, travel expenses, severance benefits) of the president of the Ohio State University whose graduates have on average more than 20,000 USD of debt, an editorial focusing on transparency of financial aid schemes, and an interactive graph focusing on average graduate debt and average cost of tuition and fees for a vast number of public and private higher education institutions across the US (for-profits and community colleges are not included, as well as a minor number of other institutions).