The private school Westerdals has settled a dispute with the state by agreeing to repay NOK 42 million in public funding that it should not have received. The amount was half what the state had initially demanded.
Newspaper Dagens Næringsliv (DN) reported that the school and the state struck a compromise after nearly two years of quarreling. The disupte arose after DN had reported on several questionable practices at the school. Its owners, who included the wealthy brothers Peder and Nicolai Løvenskiold, had evaded a state ban on taking dividends from private schools that receive state funding. The school also had offered a film- and TV line of study that lacked state approval, and students were found to have been charged tuition fees much higher than they should have been.
After a wave of negative media coverage, the Løvenskiolds and their investment partner sold the school to the private Høyskolen Kristiania but Westerdals was nonetheless charged with fraud by Norway’s white-collar crime unit Økokrim. While that investigation proceeds, the school’s new owner and managers have agreed to repay half of the state’s claim of NOK 85 million. Another NOK 28.5 million was refunded to some of the students while another 500 still claim more than NOK 30 million.
It remains unclear whether they’ll succeed with their claim. The case is due to go to court in August.