International Student Blog

A prize for International Student Inclusion

University of Bergen’s Studentparlamentet (Student Parliament) is in the process of implementing a of a prize to encourage the inclusion of international students in student organization activities. Anders Parmann, a Student Representative in the University Board, suggested the concept and the board is running with it.  You can read an article about the prize in Studvest. Today we get an inside look at the Parliament’s work on this new plan.  Johanne Vaagland, the Student Parliament member in charge of internationalization, took the time to answer some questions about the prize.

 

prisutdeling-internasjonal_jbb_07-320x480Photo: JULIE BJELLAND BUER. http://www.studvest.no/more-internationals-more-money/

 

Interview with Johanne Vaagland

It sounds like you are the person who is working towards making the student parliament inclusive of international students, can you describe your position in the student parliament and do you have specific title?
I work in the executive committee in the student parliament. The executive committee consist of 4 people that work full time. We are elected for one year at a time. I have the responsibility for internationalization, equality and environment.

 

I read the article in Studvest about the prize for the inclusion of international students, and it sounds like the goal is to encourage student organizations to reach out to and include international students by offering a prize of 10,000 nok. Am I understanding it correctly? Can you talk more about the inspiration for this prize?
Yes that is correct. We are also trying to find more money so that the prize will be more then 10 000 Nok. The idea in itself was not mine, but when I heard it I thought it was such a good idea.  So I contacted the organizations in a group we have that we call “International Organizations in Bergen”, and asked them what they thought. We started working on it, and contacted UiB, NHH, HiB and NLA to see if the wanted to contribute to this, and they all said yes. The idea is to give an incentive for organisations to be more active in trying to include international students in their organizations. We see that there might be a need for that. In addition we want to give positive attention to those who are good at including international students. This prize might to both 🙂

 

vil-du-jobbe-i-studvest1
Photo: Studvest http://www.studentbergen.no/student-bergen/artikler/vil-du-jobbe-i-studvest/

 

I’ve heard that there has been some progress on this project, can you talk a little bit about what’s happening now?
What has been happening lately is that we have been in contact with Kulturstyret about promoting the prize, and we will get our own email address that will be integreringsprisen@kulturstyret.no. We will have information about the prize on their web page. I am working on the text for the page these days, so it will be out there some time during next week after I have translated it into English. As I said we are also trying to get more money for the prize, but this is yet not confirmed!

 

Is the plan for this to be an annual award that student organizations compete for?
Yes, the plan is that this will be an annual award.

 

How will the organizations be evaluated and the winner be decided?
The organizations can apply for the award, or can be nominated by others. A committee of 5 people will decide who wins. These 5 people will be: one from Kulturstyret and one from each institution (UiB, HiB, NLA, NHH), and amongst these 4 people it has to be at least two students, and one of them international student.
Any student organization in Bergen can win. At least 2/3 of the members have to be students. The committee will look at the following criteria:

 

  • Has the organization adapted so that international students can join more easily?
  • Has the organization actively sought to recruit international students, and are the international students active members?
  • Has the organization sought to include international students in their day to day work?
  • Has the organization offered information in more languages?
  • Has the organization established contact between Norwegian and international students?

 

It is important for us to stress that it is not only the number of international students the organization has as members that is important, if that was a criteria, the same organization would win every year.

 

Eivind Senneset, Photographer

Student Organizations. Photo: Eivind Senneset

 

When will the prize go into effect?
We will start promoting the prize and sending info to the student community in the end of May. The deadline to apply is in the middle of September, and we will decide the winner before 17th of November. We chose the 17th of november to announce the winner because it is International Student’s Day.

 

I know there are links to student organizations via the uib site, are there any other links that you recommend for finding organizations? Or are there any organizations in particular that would be likely to have activities that are welcoming international participants?

 

That link on UiBs page sums it up quite well. You can also check here: http://www.utdanningibergen.no/student-bergen-en/student-organisations/.

 

I don’t know all the organizations in Bergen, but you can see which ones promote events in English from time to time. SAIH-Bergen has a lot of international students in their organizations, and regularly has events in English. Studentersamfunnet as well. But there are probably more that I don’t know about.

 

 
Is there a way for international students to get involved in student parliament?
Yes, there is possible to get involved in the student parliament, but if you want to be in the parliament you have to run for elections. Also we have all our meetings in Norwegian, and that can be a barrier for international students. But we have an international committee in SP-UiB (the student parliament at UiB), and representatives from ISU (International Students Union) and ESN (Erasmus Student Network), have a permanent seat in this committee. And as I am responsible for internationalization I have close contact with both ISU and ESN. We have also cooperated regarding the fight against tuition fees and the integration prize, for example.

 

Is there anything else you want to let international students know about student parliament prize, the student parliament in general, or is anything else you want to mention?
I think I mentioned most of what I wanted to address in the other answers. But i would like to say that is has been really fun to have the responsibility for internationalization in SP-UiB. I have really done my best at trying to see how we can be better at including international students, and the integration prize is a big part of that.

 

I also had the idea to arrange Studenttorg this spring. The Studenttorg is something that UiB arranges every August when the new students come to Bergen, and they all have stands in the student center. This has never been done in January before, and a lot of international students come to Bergen in January as well, and they don’t get the same offers as those who come in the fall, so I thought it would be a good idea to have Studenttorg in january as well! So that is another thing I did with the international students in mind, I hoped it helped some of them to meet some student organizations that they can join.

 

Also, we have had other events for the international students, for example, this: http://www.studvest.no/norwegian-culture-night-at-fantoft/

 

norsk-aften_SP-UiB_03

Photo: SP-UIB http://www.studvest.no/norwegian-culture-night-at-fantoft/

 

In the end I just want to say that the reason for me wanting the international students to join a student organization, is because this is a good way to meet norwegians. This is also where all the Norwegians meet their best friends during their time at UiB. It is also good for the Norwegian organizations to include international students so that we can all learn from each other.

 


Huge thanks to Johanne Vaagland for taking the time to do an interview! And what a great idea she had to hold the Studenttorg in the Spring as well as the Fall Semester. Thanks for looking out for the international students, Johanne!

 

prisutdeling-internasjonal_jbb_02Photo: JULIE BJELLAND BUER. http://www.studvest.no/more-internationals-more-money/

4 comments for “A prize for International Student Inclusion

  1. Sina
    28. May 2015 at 22:20

    Hi! I like the blog. Is there any opening at this time for other international students at UiB to join you? I also started my first blog in English recently. You might be interested: http://ourevolutioninlife.blogspot.com/

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