Int’ students given more time to fill their bank account

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Forsknings- og høyere utdanningsminister Henrik Asheim. (Foto: Hans Kristian Thorbjørnsen/Høyre)

The Government postpones the date for assessing foreign students ability to support themselves in Norway.

Norsk utgave her.  (Updated with comment from ISU Stavanger 11/05-20 12.45)

Students who come from countries outside the EU need a residence permit to study in Norway. To achieve this, students must show that they have the means to support themselves during their stay. Today, the limit is equivalent to full support from Lånekassen, 121 220,- NOK.

Because of the corona crisis, many have been laid off from their part-time jobs and are struggling to meet this requirement. The Government is now postponing the time of assessment of the !!!!!!! until October 1st.

There are about 9500 foreign full-time students in Norway. Those wishing to stay here to complete their education must apply for a renewed residence permit. Last year this was approximately 2,400 people, and there is reason to believe there are about as many this year, according to the Ministry of Education.

– I know that many international students in Norway are experiencing a lot of uncertainty now, and my wish is that they will manage financially through this period. Therefore, we should give those who have lost their income a little more time to get their part-time job back, find a new job or find other ways to fulfill the maintenance requirement. In addition, the scheme that gives the right to 18 days’ salary compensation for laid-off students also applies to foreign students, says Minister of Research and Higher Education Henrik Asheim in a press release.

Not enough

As SmiS has previously reported, four out of five international students in Stavanger are struggling with both acute shortage of food and rent money, as well as having to meet the maintenance requirements required by the student visa. Almost 3 out of 4 of the foreign full-time students in Norway have a part-time job that they live in full or in part. Probably a large proportion of these are now laid off.

International Students Union Stavanger believe the intention was good, but that this is far from enough help for the international students.

– The vast majority of International Students have valid residence permits until end of August/ early September, which means a postponement until 1st. October will give us only 4 more weeks to demonstrate the required amount of money, ISU Stavanger writes in their response.

They also point out that businesses have been closed for two months and there will be several weeks until students will have an income again.

– Apart from the 3 exceptions we know (UiT, UiB and OsloMet) International Students case has been terribly handled and we felt almost no economic support from National nor Local government.

ISU Stavanger also highlights the lønnskomepensasjon that they mean was not awarded to “almost any students”. They think the government is waiting for the situation to normalize and therefore will not provide better support. They also fear the consequences of missing summer jobs.

– Many students rely on fulltime summerjobs to earn money for the allowance support and in a lot of cases probably will not happen, as businesses will still have many restrictions. It is a very difficult situation for us and national measures have been poor, the organisation writes.

No help provided

ISU Stavanger has on several occasions asked for financial support from both UiS, SiS and the government. Early on they asked SiS for a reduction in rental prices during the corona crisis, and via the Welfare Parliament (VT) this was taken up in a SiS board meeting on April 23.

SiS will provide disadvantaged groups (international students, students with children, sick and disabled students) who have lost income opportunities for reduced rent costs until they believe that alternatives have been provided that financially safeguard these groups,” the request from VT said.

– We have gone along the same lines as the other joint arrangements, and will put pressure on the government for better conditions for students. We can’t reduce the rent. We are financially exposed ourselves, ”explained SiS-chairman Sander Brimsøe Thomassen.

ISU also asked UiS to consider the possibility of establishing a crisis fund for international students, as UiB and OsloMet have done previously. UiS chose not to follow Bergen and Oslo.

The UiS understands that this is a critical situation for the students concerned, though we believe that national schemes must be introduced if state aid is to be granted to various groups of students affected by the crisis,” wrote the pro-rector for education, Astrid Birgitte Eggen in response to ISU’s wish.

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