Celebrations: Students were celebrating the policy change. Photo: Patrick da Silva Sæther
Celebrations: Students were celebrating the policy change. Photo: Patrick da Silva Sæther

Introducing 11 months study support

A year-long student struggle is won. In 2020, students will get one additional month of study support.

After negotiations on overtime, the government and the supporting parties agreed on a new budget on Monday this week. The big surprise of the budget compromise is an increase of financial support with one week a year for four years. The increase begins in 2017 and as of 2020, the students receive a full 11 months study support.

– There was nothing in the original budget proposals that suggested this, so we are, to say the least, very pleasantly surprised, says a satisfied chairman of the Norwegian Student Organization Therese Eia Lerøen.

A recent survey shows that one in three students worry about their economy. -An additional month of study support is a much needed step in the right direction

– Makes a difference

Students Tora Øiom and Mai Nayeli Hauge are very positive to the extra study support.

– It's going to make a difference. One month's financial support covers the rent for one to two months, and it will come in handy during the exam period, says Øiom.

Both have a part-time job alongside their studies in special education at the University of Oslo. To live on student loans requires strict discipline and fewer comforts, according to the pedagogy students.

– Many need a part-time job in order to be comfortable. Poor finances during studies may cause some to drop out because they would rather work and make money, believes Nayeli Hauge, adding:

– More support provides greater freedom to choose whether to work or not.

Happy

The Conservatives (Høyre) politician Kristin Vinje is on the Ministry of Education and Research Committee at Parliament. She is happy with the budget settlement that she believes will improve the situation for students.

– I think many people see that the government and the supporting parties have raised investment in student housing and financial support quite significantly since the change of government in 2013. The 11-month study support will give students even better opportunity to focus further on their studies, says Vinje.

She believes Monday's budget is an extension of the policy that the governing parties, Venstre and Krf have collaborated on in recent years.

– We have strengthened student financing through the entire government period, in addition to having accomplished much on the education field.

– Victory for students

Member of Parliament Sveinung Rotevatn from the Liberals (Venstre) has for many years fought for the escalation of study support.

– This is an issue many people have worked on for a long time and it's very good to finally reach the goal. I pledged this when I worked in student politics. Now I get the pleasure of voting for this in Parliament. This is a victory for the student movement and the Liberals (Venstre), says Rotevatn.

He believes the escalation of financial support has been an important priority for the Liberals (Venstre).

– Especially because it helps to ensure equal right to study. Too many students are short on money or need to work alongside their studies. People are also studying longer than before and the exams come late into the semester.

– A change of pace

– How has working with the government on student welfare policy been?

– We are very pleased with the results in the field of research, knowledge and education. We believe it has been lacking on student welfare. Now we’re also delivering in that area, says Rotevatn.

Victory notwithstanding, Rotevatn is aware that there are still many battles to be fought before they reach their goal on student welfare.

– Venstre supports increasing financial support for students. But we are very happy with what we have achieved, and we'll take it one step at the time.

Still work to be done

NSO leader Lerøen is not concerned about going unemployed now that the struggle for student financial support is won.

– What we have now is a binding plan, and it is an incredibly important step. Now we must ensure that the amount is increased so that we get financial support up to 1.5 times the basic national insurance amount, she says.

The government and the support parties' budget resolution will also be submitted to Parliament. The settlement means in practice that the decision is going through.