Thumbs up for age depreciation of study grants!

The spring budget is the government's first opportunity to implement its own policy. The Swedish National Union of Students (SFS) welcomes investments in the construction of more housing and the reintroduction of age depreciation of student debt. But unfortunately, the investments in quality at the university are substandard in relation to the great needs.

Students do not have to be indebted for life
The spring budget includes the news that the age depreciation of student loans will be reintroduced. The government thus stops the reform that would have meant that people who have had low incomes and were unable to pay off their student debts before the age of 67 would have continued to be indebted for life. It is a great victory for poor pensioners, especially women, and tomorrow's students.

The Government also announces that CSN's model for financing will be investigated. Here, the government must ensure that the authority's stability is not based on people not paying their CSN bills on time. The increase in CSN's administrative fees that was introduced at the turn of the year is part of a worrying development in which the joint responsibility for financing studies is decreasing.

3,2 long-awaited billions for new tenancies
In the autumn, the disappointment was great when promised investments in housing for students were missing in the government's budget proposal. The joy was all the greater when the government announced that 3,2 billion will be set aside to start the construction of rental apartments and housing for students in the budget for 2016. Now we just want information on how many of the 250 homes will be built by 000 to be earmarked for students. We also want the government to ensure that the new apartments are long-term and safe, and that there are different types of housing that meet the needs of different students. There is also reason to question last week's announcement that the requirements for how much noise is allowed are reduced for small apartments. It is not acceptable for people living in smaller apartments to have to put up with more noise than others.

125 million is an ant step towards better education quality
It is positive that the government is investing SEK 125 million to increase the quality of higher education in 2015. This is as much as promised in this autumn's proposal and about half of what the Social Democrats promised in the election campaign. Unfortunately, the money is not even enough to cover the ongoing erosion of the universities' resources, which makes it difficult to believe that the addition will mean any real improvement. The investment will be geared up to cover 250 million per year for the years 2016 to 2018 and is primarily aimed at educations in the humanities and social sciences as well as for teacher and preschool teacher education. Apart from the fact that the investment is small, it is also unfortunate that it only targets certain educations when the need is everywhere.

14 new training places by 000
The government wants to create 1200 new study places at the university in 2015 and a total of 9100 places until 2018. In total, the country's higher education institutions will receive approximately 84 million more than estimated in the current budget. The initiative will primarily affect teacher education, but also midwifery, nursing and specialist nursing education. To begin with, 800 new places will be created in the pre-school teacher education, 700 new places in the basic teacher education and 300 new places in the special teacher and special educator education.

This means that teacher education continues to be the clearest example of a short-term education policy that is more about quantity than quality. In recent years, teacher education has expanded at a rapid pace, while the reforms have replaced each other. The latest example is that the government in the spring budget opens up to give certain students who study to become teachers a larger share of study grants. It is also a slap in the face to other students whose debt burden continues to increase.    

Instead of increasing the number of places in certain educations to solve problems in the labor market, the government should take more account of the interest in different educations and work to make the educations needed more attractive by raising the quality. The investments that are made must also be long-term and sensitive to the universities' conditions.   

Rebecka Stenkvist, chair of SFS and Johan Alvfors, vice chairman of SFS