Norwegian student unions were angry after 84,810 applicants were offered spots in higher education courses this year, despite there only being 52,879 study places available. Unions said the assumption that so many students would turn down their placement offers or drop out was a disease in the system, which led to overcrowded classrooms and a lack of resources.
“We have examples of students who turn up on the first day and can’t find space in the auditorium,” the head of the Norwegian Student Organization, Anders Kvernmo Langset told news bureau NTB. He said the system was actually to blame for driving up the drop-out rates. “When there is not enough room in lectures, you can’t get study rooms, the reading rooms are full and you get little follow-up, then that causes drop-outs.”
“In Norway’s biggest nursing course at the Oslo and Akershus University College (Høyskolen i Oslo og Akershus), 900 offers were given for 497 places,” said Langset. “For finance and administration at Bergen University College (Høyskolen i Bergen) there are 90 study places, but 380 offers were sent out.”
Education Minister Torbjørn Røe Isaksen of the Conservative (Høyre) party agreed that overbooking courses may have consequences for the quality of education. “There are parts of the current education system that may encourage the taking in of too many students, and make the system more concerned with getting them quickly through their education rather than the quality of education they get,” he said. “But I disagree that these figures show that challenge. Last year there were free spaces after the main offers.”
He said the government’s ongoing assessment of university funding should lead to higher quality education.
More than 14,000 student applicants did not receive offers in the first round. Any available places would be published on Saturday, and could be applied for on Sunday.