In the Norwegian state budget for the coming fiscal year, the Ministry of Education and Research proposed a four million NOK increase in the Norwegian funding of UArctic's north2north mobility program, up from today's 1.4 million NOK.
The increase follows the inclusion of southern Norwegian universities in the north2north program. Up until now, the Norwegian north2north funding has been available only to universities in the High North.
“Norway is an Arctic country, so of course everything that is going on in the region matters to us. We are facing big environmental challenges, and we see that very clearly in the North. Naturally, we need to be engaged: do research in the North, have students there, discuss relevant topics,” explains Iselin Nybø, Norway’s Minister of Research and Higher Education. “It may be easier for northern universities – it's all part of their everyday life already – but with this increase in funding we hope that all Norwegian universities get more involved in solving the challenges in the Arctic.”
The budget proposal aligns with Norway's long-term ambition to increase student mobility to 50% on a national level. Considering the world as a whole, Nybø says it is essential for students to get to know other people and cultures, and see how other universities and countries solve their challenges. With increased funding, she hopes to see north2north become an even more relevant and more used program in this regard, and that it would contribute to growing expertise in Norway – and even more broadly in the circumpolar world.
“We have a lot to learn from each other in the Arctic. Looking at a challenge from a Norwegian point of view might be very different from the Russian or Canadian approach to the same issue. We have to help our students see things from these different perspectives. We are also experiencing increasing international interest in the Arctic, and that in itself is reason enough for us to increase our support of north2north. We need to keep up with the pace; make sure we have a say in the Arctic in the middle of external interests.”
“Contributing to capacity-building in the North should be a goal of circumpolar mobility. We have now increased the Norwegian north2north funding, but I can see it having a positive effect beyond our country. It's more than just the students who go on exchange – it's also the receiving universities and their students who benefit from it. When we can exchange experiences, ideas, new perspectives and ways of thinking, it makes all of us better,” Nybø concludes.