Let openness and tolerance take us out of the crisis

The Swedish National Union of Students (SFS) is concerned about the political situation. In times like these, we want to call for democracy, openness and tolerance. The fact that the Alliance's budget was supported by the Riksdag means that important investments in quality are thrown in the bin, at the same time as new proposals for more student housing are put on the table.

We view with concern the influence of the Sweden Democrats
The day before yesterday, the Sweden Democrats announced that they will cut all budgets that contain a generous immigration policy. It was a message that aroused strong feelings within the student movement where democracy, tolerance and openness have always been key words. For us, it is obvious that Sweden should be a country where people who are on the run should always be received. The same applies to people who want to come to Sweden to study or develop in other ways. The international exchange is an important part of the academy where foreign students, doctoral students and researchers are seen as an asset. 

In other words, there are deep, insurmountable differences between the Sweden Democrats' policy and the student movement's values, which has become clearer than ever in recent days. SFS is appalled that the Sweden Democrats are the Riksdag's third largest party and seem to be gaining more and more influence. 

The government crisis means that important investments are not made
We are also concerned about the political situation. Prime Minister Stefan Löfven has announced that by-elections will be held at the end of March. It is an extreme situation that will affect the whole country. Many of the reforms previously promised by the government will not go away. This applies, for example, to the 125 million that would have been invested in quality in the humanities and social sciences, as well as teacher and preschool teacher education. Although the investment was far from sufficient to stop the large underfunding, it would have been a necessary addition that is now disappearing. 

SFS also feels a great deal of frustration about what will happen to the students' health insurance. The government has been positive to our proposals that students should have the opportunity for part-time sick leave, but who knows what will happen now? The issue has been handled by the parliamentary social insurance, PSFU, for four years, but there are many indications that they will not be able to present a comprehensive proposal. The situation that has arisen can lead to even more delays at the same time as new students continue to suffer from the shortcomings in health insurance every day.  

The alliance invests less in higher education
When it comes to the budget itself, ie the Alliance's budget, which will continue to apply, there are not many flashes of light. All in all, the Alliance's 517 million less than the government invests in the expenditure area education and university research. A total of 10 new training places are proposed in the teacher, nurse and midwifery educations.

The alliance's budget also includes investments in housing for students. It states, among other things, that higher education institutions will have a permanent opportunity to provide housing for students and that a special negotiator will ensure that more housing for students can be built on state land. Several of the proposals are only aimed at large cities, such as a new metro station in Stockholm. It seems that the Alliance has not understood that the lack of student housing is a national crisis that exists as well in Gävle and Karlskrona as in Stockholm and Gothenburg. It is also serious that the Alliance opens up to ease accessibility and noise requirements. SFS believes that it is wrong to assume that housing for students can be built to a lower standard than other housing. In total, the Alliance hopes that the investments will lead to 20 new student housing being built by 000.   

SFS will follow the development of the political situation. We will also review the budget from a student perspective as the content becomes more detailed. Right now, in a situation where Sweden is in a government crisis, however, it feels strange to analyze the content on a deeper level. Instead, we focus on meeting the situation that has arisen with an increased commitment to students' situation. In this way, we can stand up for both students and the academy and conduct a constructive dialogue on how we achieve openness and tolerance in society.

Correction: This text has been edited regarding the number of millions invested in the expenditure area and the number of training places.