Fund set up for Ukrainian, Belarus and Russian students

The Norwegian government has created a fund for students from Ukraine, Belarus and Russia who are currently enrolled in Norwegian institutions, as part of efforts to support their continued studies in the country.

The grants are targeting those students hit by the effects of the war and aims to cover subsistence costs.

“Many Ukrainian students in Norway have a rough time now, both psychologically and economically. It is also important for us that Russian and Belarus students are also included in this arrangement. These students are as innocent in relation to the war that has come as you and me,” Minister of Research and Higher Education Ola Borten Moe said in a press release on 19 March.

To give effect to the funding, the government is establishing a grant order for the spring term of 2022. Every student that is eligible for the grant will receive up to NOK11,500 (US$1,330) per month from March through to August. PhD students will get up to NOK21,000.

Continuation of studies

“I am glad to have this in place. It would have been sad and unjust if these students should have had to break their studies in Norway because of lack of funding,” he said.

Borten Moe said “other solutions” would be found to support the students beyond August if necessary.

“We have to secure stability and predictability,” he said.

The grants aim to alleviate the economic hardship caused by the fact that many of the students’ sponsors, including parents, have lost access to their funds due to the disruptions caused by war, and economic sanctions directed against Russia.

Those eligible for the grant include students at universities, university colleges, other higher education institutions and PhD students from Ukraine, Belarus and Russia, as well as self-funded students who have lost access to funding due to the war.

The grant scheme is not open to students from Ukraine, Belarus or Russia who have rights to apply for funding via the Norwegian educational loan fund scheme.

It is estimated that the number of students who will be eligible for the scheme is between 50 and 300.

According to the Norwegian Directorate for Higher Education and Skills, there were approximately 15 students from Ukraine, 400 from Russia and 50 from Belarus in the country for the spring term of 2022. Some of them, however, have permanent residence status and are eligible for Norwegian student funding.

Reallocation of partnership funds

According to the Ministry of Education and Research press release, funds allocated by the Norwegian Directorate for Higher Education and Skills towards educational project collaboration with Russia will be redirected towards the scholarship scheme.

“The Norwegian Directorate for Higher Education and Skills allocated about NOK12 million [US$1.4 million] for project collaboration with Russia through the UTFORSK and RUSSUT programmes for 2022. RUSSUT has now been stopped, and Russian project partners cannot be included in the current call for UTFORSK. These funds are therefore being used for the scholarship scheme,” the statement notes.

In a parliamentary discussion on 9 March, Borten Moe said that the Ministry of Justice had decided that all Ukrainian students in Norway could remain until further notice, even if their residence permits had expired.

“We are now preparing for a stream of refugees and the will to help is huge and we are going to manage this,” he said.

Academic community

The National Union of Students in Norway (NSO) said in a resolution on 4 March that student refugees fleeing Ukraine and refugees with an “academic background” should be “given the opportunity to be included in the academic community and be able to complete their education”.

NSO said Norwegian institutions had traditionally supported programmes such as Students at Risk and Scholars at Risk. “We expect this to continue during this war,” it said.

Acknowledging the psychological strain likely felt by students in Norway from Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, and neighbouring countries, the organisation said there was a need to reassure students that they were not going to be deported.

“It is important that the NSO sets clear demands and expectations for the Norwegian government and institutions in solidarity with those that aren’t able to demand or expect anything,” the union said.