Guarantee equals security

– The Ministry must take responsibility

The international students’ accommodation guarantee is practically eating away at the vacant capacity in SiO Housing. President of the Velferdstinget, Stine Winger Minde, demands that the government pay their share.

Publisert Sist oppdatert

– The Ministry of Education and Research has stressed the importance of internationalisation of higher education. We believe that they don’t take enough responsibility when the bill hits the table, says President of the student welfare body Velferdstinget, Stine Winger Minde.

The initiative is a response to SiO Housing’s accommodation guarantee, which promises accommodation on arrival to every international student attending institutions belonging to the Foundation for Student Life in Oslo (SiO). As the number of international students increases, so does the pressed situation in the student housing marked. This semester, about 900 of the 1300 housing units distributed by SiO has been rented out to international students.

At the University of Oslo (UiO), the number of international students has been doubled over the past four years. In 2006, 734 international students were spending three months or more at the university. At the same time, the number of international students under the SiO-umbrella increased rapidly as BI Norwegian School of Management became a member in 2005 – during the spring of 2007, there were 661 international BI-students in Oslo.

Now, Winger Minde demands that the Ministry of Education and Research act in accordance with their own wishes for more international students and help fund more student housing units.

– Worm their way out

Winger Minde says that she commented on the importance of the accommodation guarantee before the Ministry of Education and Research a few weeks ago, but that the Ministry is trying to worm their way out of it.

– The argument they use is that they were not the ones devising the accommodation guarantee and so they cannot be held responsible for it. We don’t believe that this explanation hold water. Considering today’s housing market, we are certain that most international students would hesitate to go to Oslo without this guarantee. Hence, SiO is left with nothing while the Ministry is able to meet their goal of increased internationalisation.

Winger Minde is supported by the Chief of the International Education Office, Guri Vestad.

– The international students would not choose Oslo if it weren’t for the accommodation guarantee, she agrees.

Will not promise money

However, Parliamentary Secretary of the Ministry of Education and Research, Per Botolf Maurseth (SV), does not buy the explanation. He believes that the government’s own measures are just as important and that the reason why international students choose Norway over many other countries is the lack of tuition fee. He also points to the fact that the university receives government subsidies for the international students.

– Naturally, we agree that the accommodation guarantee is important, and we are happy with the way SiO prioritizes their money. These things have a say when we allocate funds, Maurseth adds.

– Does this mean that SiO will receive more funding in the future?

– I’m afraid I can’t comment on this autumn’s budget negotiations, Maurseth replies.

The accommodation guarantee was important, but not decisive when Cristine Delaney decided to go to Oslo.

– I did feel very safe knowing that there would be a room for me on arrival, but I probably would have come here either way, says Cristine Delaney from Boston, USA.

The 23 old Master student in human rights, arrived in Oslo one year ago, and is currently living at Sogn Student Village. She is very satisfied with the accommodation.

– I pay about 2400 kroner a month, which is quite cheap and allows me to spend my money the way I want. In the US, student housing is often just as expensive as private accommodation.

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