Introduction of a regulatory framework for exchange organisations to assure the quality of host homes, safety and support of pupils, and to inspire more young people to go on exchanges and help them make the most of their experience abroad.

About 10% of exchange pupils reported experiencing insufficient care and support in the host home. A new regulatory framework introduced stronger rights for exchange pupils in autumn 2019. The goal is to ensure safety, security, and support available and encourage more upper secondary pupils to go on exchanges. Exchange organisations and schools were given greater responsibility in ensuring pupils’ safety, and an obligation to intervene if conditions in the host home/school are unsatisfactory.  

Better information and better assistance during the exchange

Exchanges give pupils opportunities to experience other cultures and gain a new perspective. The vast majority return home with new academic knowledge and good memories, yet a survey of former exchange pupils indicates that many of them experienced difficulties.

With the new regulatory framework, exchange organisations were given more responsibility in ensuring better information before departure for both pupils and their parents. In addition, the organisations must ensure that pupils are accommodated in suitable host homes that satisfy general requirements. The responsibilities of the organiser’s local contact person are better defined and include more help and assistance for pupils.  

Main changes

Schools and exchange organisations need to ensure that pupils and parents have early access to information about relevant cultural and security issues related to their stay; they need to provide advice and follow up during the exchange. Host homes are expected to comply with general requirements for finances and housing conditions according to the living standards in the country of residence.

Rules that determine the conditions for the official approval status of exchange organisations have been laid down. Exchange organisations must submit an annual report in order to receive the approval. Both the organisations and the schools are obliged to report any factors that might negatively affect the conditions for approval without undue delay. If repeated or significant breaches of the terms occur, exchange organisations may lose their approval status.

Facts about student exchanges

  • In 2018, 1 800 Norwegian pupils took part in an exchange programme.
  • The most popular destinations were the United States (47%), Great Britain (22%) and Australia (8%).
  • Pupils going on exchanges through approved exchange organisations or cooperating programmes may be entitled to financial support for education from the Norwegian State Educational Loan Fund.

The new regulation had come into force before the new round of applications for approval of exchange organisations or exchange cooperation in the autumn of 2019.

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