As a Norwegian student in the UK my wallet is looking a bit slim right now.
Due to a decline in oil prices our currency, the Norwegian krone (NOK), is struggling. Especially against the US dollar and the British pound, and the funds of students have been hit hard.
The problem is that the value of our maintenance loan, which covers tuition fees as well as basic living costs like rent and food, is determined from the currency exchange rate on April 1 each year, and does not get adjusted should the rate change.
This year the price of oil has dropped significantly, and being Norway’s main export, this has meant huge consequences for our currency. The Norwegian krone is plummeting into devaluation the market has never seen before.
A huge chunk of our maintenance loan has to be put towards covering the gap in paying our skyrocketing tuition fees, and you can truly feel that Norwegians’ studying abroad are starting to panic.
Personally I have paid about £2,200 more in tuition fees than I would have if I paid the day the currency rate for our loans was set. That is the equivalent of almost five months’ rent on my overpriced Kingston flat.
Madeleine Mowinckel, leader of the Association of Norwegian Students Abroad (ANSA) said they have received strong concerns regarding money from students in countries with high tuition fees.
She suggests that students themselves must take responsibility to cover their living costs.
To an extent, I agree. I cannot speak for my peers, but as a Norwegian my loan has provided a cushioned lifestyle in my first and second year of university, but cutting down on takeaways and drinks is not going to make up for the £2,200 I had initially relied on when setting my budget for this year.
It is not just a few pounds here and there missing, it is a substantial sum of money, and many are struggling to find a way to cover the loss.
Some of us will have to work more hours, some will crawl to their parents for help, or some will decide to live on noodles for the rest of the semester.
The bottom line is that all Norwegians are struggling with money this year and the prospects of help are looking bleak.
So if you know one of us, buy us a beer. God knows, we need one!