Recently, and with no prior notice, all Norwegian UWC students and parents received a letter from our national committee. We were informed of the committee’s decision to raise our fees by almost 100%. This is alarming, as it will almost certainly prevent a group of talented young people from attending a UWC in the future. Poor families may still get an extra grant, while middle income families will strive to afford the increased fee. Furthermore, there is no return for a family currently supporting their son or daughter attending a UWC, facing an enormous increase in fees which might well push their household economically out of balance.
My hypothesis? Partly due to the recent plummet in the price of oil, the general fall in international interest rates, and to spark the overall investment in domestic produce, the Central Bank of Norway has lowered interest rates to historically low levels. However, the low interest rates are likely to have scared off a lot of foreign investors from putting their money in Norwegian banks, funds and assets. This has lead to a weakening of the Norwegian krone.
As the prices of the overseas colleges have not been lowered, and the financial support that UWC Norway receives from the government has not been raised (at least not adequately), more of the payment will now rely on the students and their families. This is probably not the full explanation of the dramatic increase in school fees, but might be a partial cause.
UWC should be a place for talented, active and committed young people, regardless of their parents’ bank wallets. To ensure an organization in which students from all over the world can thrive, without regard to their background, it’s vital that personal financial constraints do not prevent students from applying.
It is important that the Norwegian government and private sponsors understand and appreciate the benefit of investing in UWC scholarships. UWC allows young Norwegians to and experience and better understand the world. They later come back with extensive international networks, which will form part of the cornerstone of a liberal, inclusive and progressive society. There is no doubt that Norway will gain from this, both socially and financially.
As far as I know, Norwegian UWC students have always been very privileged when it comes to financial support, and to some extent I believe we still are. For this I will be forever grateful. Let’s continue to support an organization that increases our understanding, our open-mindedness and our ability to act responsibly in the world.