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Norway: reception of Ukrainian refugees in the education system

The Norwegian Government is welcoming Ukrainian refugees and has started preparing for the challenges to come. A temporary collective protection status for refugees from Ukraine has been introduced.

Norwegian municipalities have been asked to settle some 35 000 people in 2022, the majority of whom are women and children. This is expected to lead to pressure on the country’s health service and education system.

Temporary amendments to laws

It cannot be ruled out that the number of refugees will be higher than expected, particularly in the long term. In order to deal with the situation, temporary amendments have been proposed to a number of laws, including the Integration Act and the Education Act. The aim is to increase flexibility for faster settlement and participation in Norwegian society. The proposal will be considered by the Norwegian Parliament in June 2022.

Introduction programme for immigrants

Immigrants aged 18-55 who come from countries outside the Nordic region and the European Economic Area, and have been granted a residence permit in Norway, are obliged to participate in an introductory programme. The programme lasts from 3 months to 3 years (with possible extension) and is adapted to the participants’ level of education. It is focused on work- and education-related activities. Paid work and higher education (including higher VET) can be among these activities. In addition, it can include Norwegian language courses, social studies, life skills and parental guidance. 


The Education Act

According to the Education Act, all children who have resided in Norway for more than 3 months have the right to primary and lower secondary education, and municipalities must provide a fully-fledged training offer within 1 month. The government proposes extending it to 3 months to allow for more flexibility. Training can be organised in separate groups until refugees are able to follow the teaching in the Norwegian language. Currently, consent of both the parents and the learners themselves is required to provide refugee education in separate groups. In the new proposal, the government intends to remove the consent requirement. This will give municipalities some flexibility in organising the offer for both children and adults. Ukrainian children will have the right to education in their mother tongue until they can participate in regular classes.