The Student Democracy has a new international platform because it is more important than ever for the Student Democracy and USN to include the international students in our work. In light of the national goal of increased student mobility, and hoping to continually improve the everyday study for the international students, we arranged the first meeting between the Student Democracy, representatives from the international students, the International office and other relevant parties on the 16th of December. These dialogue meetings are mandated in the cooperation agreement between SDSN and USN where both parts commit to improving the study life for all students.
Currently there are about 600 international students at the 8 different campuses at USN. These students come across a multitude of challenges when meeting the Norwegian system, and we therefore have potential for improvement when it comes to reception and inclusion of the international students. For years there has been a demand for a Norwegian course for learning the Norwegian language and culture, and the Student Democracy advocates and means that USN should offer this course to the international students.
In addition, there are some systemic problems that causes extra stress for these students. On arrival to Norway they have to register with the police and the tax authority to get access to a Norwegian back account and phone number. This process is problematic because opening hours at these public institutions are at the same time as lectures. This fact generates complaints from international students all over the country, and has so, for years. In anticipation of changes at the police and the tax authority, the Student Democracy advocates that USN should show some flexibility so the international students can register without missing lectures.
Another important point for this student body is that a lot of them wants to have a part time job next to their studies. The lack of a career center becomes very apparent here. There are clear and comprehensive rules for how much the international students can work, and a career center could help them with both the application process, and to understand these regulations. There is no doubt around the fact that understanding and speaking Norwegian is key to get into the Norwegian job market. Therefore, offering a Norwegian course would be great help for this problem as well.
The next meeting will take place at the start of next year and this meeting will be taking place twice per semester. For the next semester will inclusion and cooperation, which is also given a considerable amount of attention in the international platform, be the base for the meeting agenda. The student welfare organization in southeastern-Norway, SSN, will be invited to future meetings, and we look forward to creating a better everyday study life for the international students. Student mobility is an important part of developing our society, and we wish that all the international students can look back on a great and educational study time in Norway.