An acute lack of teachers in Norway’s three northernmost counties of Finnmark, Troms and Nordland has prompted the government to offer incentives in the form of major elimination of student loan amounts.
The Conservatives-led coalition government has won support for a package that will be offered to all new students who’ll start working towards a teaching credential this fall. Those who complete a master’s degree in education within the five-year parameter set for the program will quality for debt forgiveness of NOK 51,000. Those who also agree to teach 1st- through 7th-graders will receive another NOK 55,000 in debt forgiveness, and those who agree to work in Finnmark, Troms or Nordland will get another NOK 55,000 of their student loans forgiven.
“We’re doing something concrete here that can make a difference,” Iselin Nybø, a Member of Parliament for the Liberal Party, told newspaper Aftenposten. She thinks the incentives will “contribute to increased recruitment.”
Others were more skeptical. “I don’t think money is the main motivation,” said student Rikard Dotzler. “If I want to be a teacher, I’ll do that regardless of whether I’ll have a smaller student loan afterwards.” Many students want to move to Northern Norway, known for spectacular scenery, wide open spaces and unusual seasonal variations. Family and friends tend to keep them where they are, said student Erlend Guttulsrud Kristiansen, who would rather see pay raises for teachers and more practical training.