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The National Union of Students in Norway (NSO) represents 230,000 students. More than ten percent of them are international students. Sadly, the diversity among our elected representatives doesn’t reflect this. NSO, alongside the International Student’s Union of Norway (ISU), want to change this.
In order to develop the best policies for all students in Norway, we should be representative of the student population as a whole, and reflect the diversity among students. We therefore must ask ourselves the question: What makes student politics so hard to break into for international students? And who’s responsible? Is it us, or maybe it’s them? Or, maybe it’s a combination of the two? Or, could it be that we think and speak in «us» and «them» terms?
We have many hypotheses to these questions, which can be more or less correct. For example - many international students are only in Norway for a short period of time. They are also highly focused on their studies and perhaps don’t feel they have the time to involve themselves in student politics. In addition, language can also be a barrier and a hinder for many. However, it could also be that local student parliaments and NSO haven’t been serious enough about recruiting international students.
In our minds, it’s hard to put the full responsibility solely on the international students. Several reports have shown that there’s a barrier between Norwegian and international students in general. We rarely socialize in our free time, and Norwegian students too seldom seek international experience during their time as students, either by exchanging to another country or by being a part of international student activities here at home. We think that we can see these things reflected in our own organization, and must admit that we could do more to attract and include international students.
As a result of this, we have three messages to all international students in Norway: First - we want you! There is a genuine goal to have diversity at all levels of our organization, and at all local student democracies in Norway.
In order to develop the best policies for all students in Norway, we should be representative of the student population as a whole, and reflect the diversity among students.
Synne Grønvold and Daniel Iniesta
Second: - Involve yourself. Do not hesitate to apply for positions at the local student democracies. If you have a desire to work for the benefit of the student population in Norway, your participation is welcomed and needed.
Third: - Engage in national student politics! ISU and NSO are working with the government, Parliament and national bodies in the sector of higher education, on political issues like tuition fees and the building of student housing. To find English information on elections in NUS Norway go to student.no/valg.