Illustration: Øivind Hovland
Illustration: Øivind Hovland

– Norwegian students worry too much about their economy

Lånekassen deserves praise, not just ungrateful students who complain.

When the student loan pops into your account the 15th of every month, it is rare to hear a conversation in the cafeteria about how good Lånekassen really is. The discussions rather revolve around pricey beer, all the noodle dinners, and there will certainly not be any increase in the student loan in the next budget either. Should we be more grateful for the support we receive from the State Educational Loan Fund?

A comparison with students in other countries indicates that. In a research report from Eurostudent on twenty nine European countries, including Norway, asked a representative sample of students about how they experience student life in the period between 2011 and 2015. Students have been asked about finances, prospects and study satisfaction. The results show that although Norwegian students are among the most privileged in terms of state aid and independence from the family's wallet, we are unhappy with the money we have at our disposal.

Almost no one worries as much about their economy as Norwegian students. 43 percent of us claim to have serious or very serious financial problems. In comparison, students in countries such as Russia and Ukraine are less worried. Only Irish and Slovenian students are more worried than us – countries which in recent years has had an unemployment rate for young people of around 20 percent.

So why are we so worried, relatively speaking? This is at least not due to having an inferior scholarship than other countries. Of countries participating in the study, Norway has the largest proportion of students who receive state financed studies. In total, about one quarter of our monthly income is from the State Educational Loan Fund; only the Danes receive more than us.

I, at least, eat my noodles with joy Stine Hesstvedt journalist in Universitas

Norwegian students are also less dependent on support from mom and dad. Only a fifth of a Norwegian student’s budget is money from home, while a European student on average get half of their monthly income from their parents. Turning to Germany, the percentage is nearly 80 percent. The figures also show that Norway is among the countries with the most students who come from families with low education.

That we must juggle studies with part-time jobs, and in a Norwegian context have low income, may be reasons to worry. That student economy has not been prioritized by politicians for years is also not good enough.

Yet it is a paradox that Norwegian students worry so much, and that Lånekassen only receives criticism. We have to call home to ask for money much less than our European fellow students, and we can take advantage of a relatively un-elitist student body where everyone has an equal economic basis to fund their education. It is, after all, unique in Europe, where much of government funding is means-tested. For this, the Loan Fund deserves praise, and not just ungrateful students who complain.

So although beer prices and student loans may not match, we can benefit from being more appreciative of receiving a monthly sum on your account to anyone and everyone. I, at least, eat my noodles with joy.