A budget that will increase the class divide among students
Head of Tekna students Christoffer Røneid is disappointed about the student budget; he’s convinced it’ll create larger gaps between students who can get financial aid from home and those who can’t because they don’t have wealthy parents.
In the 2024 National Budget, the government’s proposing an increase in student financial aid of 3.8 percent.
"This is actually a decrease, since price increases in the country are even higher. Students are once again the losers here," claims Røneid.
Before the National Budget was presented, Tekna students were expecting the government to increase students’ financial aid by 1.5 times the basic amount in the National Insurance Scheme (Folketrygden), which currently equals NOK 177, 930. The basic amount is index adjusted annually, so by attaching student financial aid to the basic amount, students can be assured they won’t fall behind the rest of society.
"In their 2021 political platform (Hurdalsplattformen), the then incoming government claimed that they would take both fulltime students and working students into consideration when drafting a budget. Yet if this budget goes through, it’ll be impossible for students to live off of financial aid alone. They’ll become dependent on getting extra help from their parents or working even more while going to school. Tekna’s surveys show that the average student has to get along on around NOK 90 per day after paying rent. This just doesn’t cut it," says Røneid.
Also, Røneid states that when students work too much while going to school, it hurts the quality of their studies.
"It’s not sound social economics for students to deliver lower test scores or take longer to graduate," says Røneid.
Proposing to The Socialist Left Party (SV)
Now Røneid is hoping that SV will fight hard in their negotiations with the government so that the level of student financial aid may yet be increased.
"SV has clearly stated that student financial aid must be increased. We’re hoping that this will also be brought up during negotiations with the government," he explains.
Røneid thinks that we’re at risk of increasing the class divide among students.
"The principle of providing free education and equal opportunity to everyone has been central in Norway. Yet the current government is challenging this principle by freezing student financial aid, creating a greater class divide among students. This year the high cost-of-living increases have made this problem even more acute," says Røneid.
Mental health being challenged
Over the course of several years, healthcare authorities have been registering an increasing number of students who are struggling with mental health issues. Røneid believes that if students are struggling financially, it can make these mental health challenges even harder to overcome.
"Findings like those from the Students’ Health and Wellbeing Study (SHoT) show that when students participate in activities when going to school, this helps them fight loneliness and poor mental health; yet this has been a growing problem for students. Financial struggles are forcing many students to prioritize working more outside of class, which comes at the expense of getting involved in social activities," he says.