Protests break out in Norway over decision to shut down Nord University campuses

The campuses of Nord University at Sandnessjøen and Nesna will be closed and many of the faculty and workers will have to shift to other locations

July 05, 2019 by Peoples Dispatch
Protests break out in Norway over decision to shut down Nord University campuses
The decision to close down the campuses violates the university's own promise in 2016 that they would be strengthened.

Students and staff of Nord University in Norway are up in arms at the decision of the university board to close down its campuses at Sandnessjøen and Nesna. The university board that met on June 26 approved a proposal to centralize the university on the Bodø campus. The university has eight campuses in total, including the ones that are about to be shut down,

Nord University was founded in 2016 through a merger between the University of Nordland, Nesna University College and Nord-Trøndelag University College. During the time of formation, it was assured that all the campuses would be strengthened. But the university administration has now decided to close down the two campuses, as well as moving the nursing education department from the Namsos campus to the one in Levanger.

Since the news of the closure came out, various students, teachers and other workers’ groups have organized demonstrations, protests and rallies. According to reports, nearly 6,000 people gathered at a protest concert in the town of Namsos. An online platform ‘People’s protest action group for higher education at the coast of Helgeland’, in a short time, gained 22,000 followers on Facebook. On June 11, more than 100 people protested in front of parliament under the banner: “Let Nesna live!”

Forskerforum reported that the campus on Nesna will be completely closed. The entire academic community will be moved to teacher education and kindergarten teacher education facilities on the campus in Bodø.

The Red Party (rødt) in Norway said that a university board did not have a mandate to prescribe an educational structure that laid down guidelines for where people should live [that would determine] the fate of entire communities. “These are general political issues that must be decided by the Storting (Parliament),” the party said.

The Socialist Left Party (SV) also opposed the board’s decision and said it would take up the issue in parliament.