– Once or twice a week I go to the BI-office to withdraw money. I don´t have the opportunity to withdraw money as often as I want to, so I have to carefully plan beforehand. I keep the money in my sock drawer in my room, says Canadian Ryan Allan King, student of political economy by BI Norwegian School of Management.
The Norwegian government demands that students coming from countries outside of the EU/EEA have 85 000 kroner in a Norwegian account in order to study in the country. To get a Norwegian account, you need a Norwegian social security number, so the schools and student organizations have to administer the money until everything is in order.
Can´t get a phone
Upon King´s arrival in Norway he went to the police station to apply for a Norwegian visa and social security number. From the Norwegian Consulate in Canada he had learned that he needed to actually be in Norway to apply for the visa, and after several weeks he got a message saying that the application would be treated within two weeks if he had all his papers in order.
King is still waiting for an answer, and the 85 000 kroner he had to use on his studies he had to transfer to BI. The school is administering the money while he’s waiting for his visa.
He says that there are several other international students feel that it restricts everyday life.
– The only way I can pay my bills is through my Norwegian girlfriend, but not everyone is as lucky as I am. In addition to the money issue, I can’t get a phone or health insurance, he says.
– According to ANSA, the Association for Norwegian Students Abroad, arrangements similar to the Norwegian one cannot be found in other countries, neither inside nor outside of Europe. If the student has to pay tuition or has to prove that he or she has enough money to live by, the Norwegian State Educational Loan Fund will give out a letter that proves that the student is granted money from the Norwegian state.
Cash is unsafe
In 2008 there were well over 1000 student in Norway who came from outside the EU/EEA-area. Farshad Tami, the national president in the International Students Union (ISU), thinks it’s a hinder for the internationalization that the students have to wait so long for their social security numbers and their accounts.
– Many of the international students complain to the ISU about the amount of time they have to wait in order to receive a social security number. Many feel that it’s unsafe to walk around with large amounts of money in cash.
Anne Karine Nymoen, the president of the National Union of Students in Norway, thinks it’s bad if international students feel that Norway is a country it’s hard to orient oneself in.
– The system for the international students today doesn’t encourage internationalization. It´s important to make it as simple as possible for this group, but today it seems as if the opposite is happening.
SiO pays advance
Øyvind Gjengaar from the Foundation for Student Life in Oslo (SiO) confirms that they have received feedback from international students who think that the system is cumbersome.
SiO tries to make arrangements for the students by for example offering an advance payment consisting of 22 000 kroner to the students who have to pay 85 000 kroner in a deposit, functioning as a loan while the students are waiting for their own account. This amount is also paid out in cash.
Universitas has several times been in touch with both the Ministry of Education and Research and the Ministry of Labour and Social Inclusion, but no one could provide an answer to why the system is functioning the way it is today.