The Student Council´s Report on Students in the Housing Market

In the summer of 2021, the Student Council’s office proposed to the council that a project manager should be hired during the summer to gather information and data on the rights of individuals within the welfare system and thus get a better picture of their position in different social situations. This was in line with projects that were already on the Student Council’s table in this regard, e.g. the Council’s information and data collection on student benefits within the student loan system, employment opportunities and rights in the labour market. Nanna Hermannsdóttir was hired as project manager at the Student Council’s office and was in charge of all information and data collection in consultation with the office. Nanna has a BA degree in economics from the University of Iceland and is no a master’s student in economics at Lund University. She has previously studied Nordic welfare systems at Halmstad University and event management at Hólar University. 

Housing issues are one of the biggest issues of students’ interests. This issue is one of the main priorities on the Student Council’s agenda, as security is a fundamental issue during studies. The development of the university campus is already well underway and aims at a contiguous organisation with an emphasis on merging the university activities, increasing housing and the provision of services and environmental friendly connections and transport. Due to this, it was decided to look specifically at the terms and rights of students in the housing market and report on this in a published report. Its aim is to analyse and compare the general rental market and student accommodations, analyse the housing burden of students and examine their right to public housing support from both the state and municipalities with regard to the additional loan from the Student Education Fund for housing costs. The report also includes proposals for improvements on the issue that the Student Council requests to be considered.

It is worth mentioning that the report focuses on the position of students at the University of Iceland. Lower rental prices in the vicinity of schools could alleviate the situation in some cases where prices in the vicinity of the University of Iceland are by far the highest. However, it is not realistic to assume that the problem will disappear completely, and it should therefore be possible to transfer the results to almost all students in Iceland.

The report can be found here. It is in Icelandic.

 

Students in the housing market

Housing costs are one of the largest household expenditure items, and this applies no less to students. Young people and low-income people are considerably more likely than other groups to be in the rental market, according to Statistics Iceland’s data on the situation in the housing market by income and age. It involves less housing security and higher housing costs compared to owning real estate.

Students generally have lower wage income than other groups and are therefore particularly vulnerable to large increases in rental prices. The additional loan that the Student Education Fund provides to students for housing costs does not take into account the actual increase in housing costs. According to Eurostudent VII, 43% of students in Iceland are already considered to have burdensome housing costs, which is almost four times higher than among all Icelanders. In this context, it should be mentioned that students are divided into different groups in different positions, each of which can carry different obligations and live in completely different situations.

The assessment of the student housing burden was carried out on the basis of moderate assumptions about the traditional student and rental prices in the capital area. It is assumed that the traditional student is in the rental market and the analysis is divided according to the type of apartment and according to whether it is rented from student accommodations or in the general rental market. Disposable income is the total household income after taxes, including payments from the social system. The amount of student loans was also included, despite the fact that loans are generally not regarded as disposable income. Housing benefit is deducted from rental costs (cf. Statistics Iceland’s calculations of the housing burden) and is therefore not included in disposable income despite being payments from the social system.

 

Main results

The results of the report indicate that many students have burdensome housing costs in line with Eurostudent IV. The situation is due to the group’s low disposable income, but it should be noted that the majority of the disposable income referred to in this report is loans and not income or benefits from the social system. An unconventional definition of disposable income is therefore used here. Nevertheless, most indications are that a traditional student, as a single student, generally pays for housing costs that either approach it or are simply considered to be burdensome housing costs. The position of students in the housing market must therefore be considered a cause for concern.

Public financial support for students is subject to various conditions, which puts otherwise similar students in very different positions. This discrepancy is mainly due to two reasons. One of them is that the general housing support system makes stricter requirements for housing in the general market than for comparable apartments in student accommodations. The other reason is that the possibility of support varies depending on where the students live and where they have legal domicile registration, but special housing support varies both between municipalities and depends on whether the domicile and legal domicile are in the same municipality. As entitlements to social benefits are more often than not tied to an individual’s participation, students often fall into loopholes in the system and have to rely on specially designed exemptions in laws and regulations, as study is generally not the equivalent of participation.

Despite the development of student accommodations in recent years, it is still a long way from students being able to walk to an apartment in a student accommodation as a matter of course. The rental price index has risen by 41% in the last five years, at the same time as the Student Loan Fund’s additional loans for housing costs have risen by only 11%. If the basic subsistence (plus child allowance, where applicable) and additional housing loans are compared, it can be seen that the system actually assumes that students will bear the burdensome housing costs. It must be considered serious that the fund’s additional loans for housing do not take into account increases in the general market, as a large proportion of students rent housing while socially run resources such as student accommodations do not meet demand. In order to ensure stable terms, additional housing loans need to be increased by at least the amount of the rental price index between years.

The simple assessment that was carried out is by no means exhaustive and the proposals submitted by the Student Council are far from being the only possible ones and the issues that were examined are limited to the most general ones. The report is primarily intended as an incentive for action by the relevant government and an urgency for all those involved in decision-making on the rights and living conditions of students in Iceland. It is very clear that there is a lot to consider when observing these results, but it is important to start bettering this issue as soon as possible.

Student Council meeting January 20th

The Student Council’s next meeting will be held on Teams at 5:00 p.m. on January 20th.

According to paragraph 9 of the Student Council’s laws, the Council’s meetings are open to all students at the University of Iceland. Students who are not members of the Student Council may therefore attend meetings and listen to discussions within the Council.

Please contact the office of the Student Council at shi@hi.is if you have any questions regarding the meeting or the agenda. Furthermore, all students are welcome to contact the office with inquiries about their rights.

Meeting agenda

  1. Meeting begins 17:00
  2. Vote/approval on minutes from last meeting 17:00-17:05
  3.  Announcements and issues ahead 17:05-17:25
  4. Presentation on the Student Council’s housing report 17:25-18:00
  5. The Student Council’s policy  18:00-18:20
  6. The National Union of Icelandic Students national assembly 18:20-18:35
  7. Intermission 18:35-18:45
  8. The Student Council’s financial plan for 2021-2022 18:45-19:00
  9. Proposal on Matarspor – carbon footprint calculator for food 19:00-19:15
  10. Proposal on financial support from the University of Iceland to the Student Theater 19:15-19:30
  11. Other issues 19:30-19:40
  12. Meeting ends 19:40

The meeting takes place in Icelandic.

The University of Iceland and the Icelandic Student Services have purchased Hótel Saga

The Student Council celebrates the milestone that has been reached with the purchase of Bændahöllin, otherwise known as Hótel Saga, which will now finally be used for the University of Iceland’s and the Icelandic Student Services operations. There is great anticipation for having the School of Education on the central university campus, as well as for providing an increased supply of housing for students with just over 110 new studio apartments in close proximity to the university.

This idea, which came to light within the university community, offered new opportunities to integrate the campus, unite the student body and expand services on the campus.

The Student Council sincerely congratulates the university community and looks forward with optimism, as the future includes further development with sustainability in mind, for the benefit of both students and staff.

Student Council meeting December 16th 2021

The Student Council’s next meeting will be held in O-101 at 5:00 p.m. on December 16th.

According to paragraph 9 of the Student Council’s laws, the Council’s meetings are open to all students at the University of Iceland. Students who are not members of the Student Council may therefore attend meetings and listen to discussions within the Council.

Please contact the office of the Student Council at shi@hi.is if you have any questions regarding the meeting or the agenda. Furthermore, all students are welcome to contact the office with inquiries about their rights.

Meeting agenda

  1. Meeting begins 17:00
  2. Vote/approval on minutes from last meeting 17:00-17:05
  3.  Announcements and issues ahead 17:05-17:20
  4. Presentation on the Icelandic Student Services 17:20-18:00
  5. Intermission 18:00-18:10
  6. The Student Council’s annual financial statement 2020-2021 18:10-18:25
  7. Proposal on maternity/paternity grant 18:25-18:40
  8. Other issues 18:40-18:50
  9. Fundi slitið 18:50

Inga Huld nominated for Member of the Year by the Student Council

The Student Council nominated Inga Huld Ármann as a member of the year 2021, on behalf of the National Youth Council of Iceland.

Inga Huld is a student council member and a member of the School Council of the School of Engineering and Natural Sciences, as well as being the chair of the Student Council’s academic affairs committee and therefor a member of the University Council’s academic affairs committee. Inga works with much professionalism and devotion to student affairs, whether it is within her field of study or the central administration. Teaching is one of the cornerstones of any university and it is extremely important to have a strong individual there to defend the interests of students.

Congratulations on the nomination dear Inga Huld!

Annual prevention campaign of HMS and the National Association of Firefighters and Paramedics

The annual prevention campaign of HMS and the National Association of Firefighters and Paramedics started on December 1st and will last until December.

An interview has been conducted with Sólrún Alda Waldorff, a university student, who was seriously burned when a fire broke out in an apartment in Mávahlíð in 2019. She shares her life experience with us to strengthen the discussion in the field of prevention. The Student Council is happy to share the message.

Let’s be careful together and fulfill the items in the checklist below:

  • Smoke detector in all rooms
  • Household members know escape routes out of the home
  • Fire extinguishers should be located at exits and escape routes
  • Fire blanket accessible and visible in the kitchen
The interview can be found here.

Viðtal við Sólrúnu Öldu Waldorff from Húsnæðis- og mannvirkjastofnun on Vimeo.

The Student Fund open for applications for the second allocation

You can now apply for grants in the second allocation of the Student fund here . We encourage you to follow the instructions in the application form closely, since failure to meet the requirements of the application can result in the application being declined.

The application deadline is until 12:00 on December 16th. 2021. Late applications will automatically be turned away.

Before you apply, it is recommended that you read about the fund, especially its laws. Diagnostic and maintenance grants will be granted in this allocation.

Questions shall be directed to María Sól Antonsdóttir, the fund’s chairperson. María can be reached by email at studentasjodur@hi.is.

Student Council meeting November 25th 2021

The Student Council’s next meeting will be held in L-101 at 5:00 p.m. on November 25th.

According to paragraph 9 of the Student Council’s laws, the Council’s meetings are open to all students at the University of Iceland. Students who are not members of the Student Council may therefore attend meetings and listen to discussions within the Council.

Please contact the office of the Student Council at shi@hi.is if you have any questions regarding the meeting or the agenda. Furthermore, all students are welcome to contact the office with inquiries about their rights.

Meeting agenda

  1. Meeting begins 17:00
  2. Vote/approval on minutes from last meeting 17:00-17:05
  3.  Announcements and issues ahead 17:05-17:25
  4. Presentation of a questionnaire: Students’ attitudes towards changes in their studies and teaching at the University of Iceland due to the COVID-19 epidemic in the spring semester of 2021 17:20-18:00
  5. Nominations to the electoral board 18:00-18:15
  6. Proposal regarding work permits for newly graduated psychologists 18:15-18:30
  7. Intermission 18:30-18:40
  8. Report of the Student Council’s workgroup in regards to the parliamentary elections 2021 19:00-19:15
  9. Re-examinations at the University of Iceland 18:30-18:45
  10. Gender neutral bathrooms 18:45-19:00
  11. Other issues 19:15-19:25
  12. Meeting ends 19:25
  13. Recorded issues

Announcement by the Student Council due to the increase of coronavirus infections

The conditions we face due to the large number of coronavirus infections do understandably affect our environment and thus our well-being, which can affect our learning and its progress.

The government’s measures in line with the proposal by the Chief Epidemiologist have now been announced, and a new regulation will make it possible to better map the response of the university community. The Student Council’s Rights Office is in contact with the University’s authorities and seeks to meet students different situations in light of the rapid spread of the virus, especially so shortly before the final exams of the fall semester, but no less because of the holidays.

It is important that measures are taken with the health of students and staff in the foreground and that the many tools that the University has learned from in previous semesters are utilised so that the current semester can be completed safely.

Announcement from the Student Council regarding the study selection at the University of Iceland

The Student Council’s Rights Office is aware of the discussion that has taken place in recent days regarding distance learning at the University of Iceland. The Student Council has advocated for increased electronic teaching on the one hand and increased distance learning on the other hand in various ways and will continue to do so.

Regarding electronic learning, it has been a clear call of the Council that teaching methods should be developed with regard to the times we live in, with increased technology and more diverse teaching methods. Progress has been made with the introduction of an electronic examination system as well as a new study supervision system. In addition, there are other electronic solutions that are supposed to promote teaching development and it is important to continue to build on. After the challenges we have been going through for the past year and a half, electronic teaching methods should no longer be unfamiliar to us. It is important that the university can continue to respond to unforeseen student situations and thereby acquire flexibility in teaching methods, e.g. with recordings and streaming of lessons. The students’ call for more technological teaching methods is about ensuring access to studies and promoting equality among students.

With regard to distance learning, it is clear that the University of Iceland must do better if it is to meet the needs of a wider group of students. The distance learning plan of the University of Iceland will be implemented in the near future, and before that the Student Council will have access to it for review, and it will also be presented to students and staff. Today, certain study programs are available in distance learning and the School of Education has been at the forefront in this respect. It is important to look at the experience and work that is already taking place within the university and utilize it in other fields of study so that it will be possible to increase the selection of distance learning.

Equal access to education is a concern for students and is one of their most important interests. The Student Council’s Rights Office will continue to put pressure on it to be at the forefront with all available means. The most important thing is that the quality of the studies and teaching is ensured, because the University of Iceland must offer good and competitive education.