Norwegian students prefer luxury flats

Even though The Foundation for Student Life in Oslo has more than a hundred empty student flats, 300 students prefer waiting in line.

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The reason is that a large number of Norwegian students do not want to move into low-standard flats. Hence, 300 students choose to wait in line even though The Foundation for Student Life in Oslo (SiO) advertises that they can provide «housing in one day». However, you have to be content with the most worn-out flats at Sogn, Kringsjå or Bjerke.

– En-suite bathrooms have proven to be very important to the students. This is something we are taking into consideration now that we are rehabilitating Kringsjå. Unfortunately, we do not have the resources to renovate all the student flats at the same time, says Tom Olstad, Director of SiO Housing.

An even balance

Chairman of the General Board of SiO, Silje Winther, stresses that SiO’s responsibility is to give the students what they need, and not necessarily what they want. Still, the demand for the more expensive flats with higher standards has increased during the last couple of years, while the cheapest and most worn-out flats often are empty by New Year. This year, there are more vacant low-priced flats than ever before, while the waiting time on the more expensive ones are several months.

– It is not SiO’s job to build penthouse apartments on Aker Brygge. We want to have a balance between the fancy and the low-priced apartments, says Winther. She emphasises that it has been a deliberate choice to make 60 per cent of the student flats low-priced. Olstad agrees.

– It is important that we have reasonable priced alternatives, especially with the international students in mind. They are interested in flats that are as cheap as possible.

Not many Norwegian students

And it is mostly the international students that apply for the less fashionable flats, and Winther admits that the international students’ housing needs are prioritised above the Norwegian student’s wants. She adds that as long as the government funding is so limited, everyone cannot be prioritised.

– Our task is to make sure that the students have a place to live. Naturally, this means that we have to take the people who cannot afford anything but the cheapest alternatives into consideration, Winther says.

Showers are important

Olstad too wishes that SiO Student Housing had more resources, so that they to a larger extent could meet the demands of the students. That is why SiO now wants to make sure that the flats at Kringsjå Student Village are equipped with en-suite bathrooms.

– Unfortunatly, this will take some time as we cannot refurbish all the flats that are in need of it.

Benjamin Jonsrud, student politician and spokesperson for the left-wing student party Venstrealliansen, does not agree. He feels that in order to please the Norwegian students, all the cheapest apartments should be upgraded, not only the ones at Kringsjå. If SiO manages to upgrade the most worn-out apartments, the problem with empty apartments will be solved.

– Still, it is possible that the Norwegian students are somewhat prissy.

Sceptical to marketing strategies

Leader of the student welfare body The Velferdsting, Stine Winger Minde, does not believe that the students have been passed over by SiO in this case, since there are still vacant flats to be had. However, she is concerned that there may be a housing crisis in the autumn, resembling the one we say last year. Thus, she does not approve of SiO’s advertising of «housing in a day».

– When SiO advertises that they have so many empty flats, they signal that there is no need to build more student villages. This is not the case, she says.

Yet, she does not consider it a major problem that the reason why SiO has so many vacant flats is that they will not refurbish the most worn-out ones, risking that they are left empty until the summer,.

– After all, this is only a hundred or so apartments, out of a total of 6000.

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