Student Union Funding

It is in the interest of both students and universities that student influence works. For the students, it is about reviewing so that the students get good educations. The higher education institutions, for their part, have an obligation to involve the students when important decisions are made. In addition, the student perspective contributes to quality, by developing the educations with regard to students' demand and needs. That students should participate is also an important idea in the system for quality assurance of higher education. This is not least an important aspect of the EU's Standards and guidelines for quality assurance in the European Higher Education Area (ESG), something that the Swedish system for quality assurance is designed according to. Students' perspectives need to play a clear role when it comes to identifying quality deficiencies and development opportunities in higher education.

The fact that the state subsidy does not cover the full costs of the student unions' activities makes it more difficult for them to carry out their assignment. When there are no resources to pay fees and salaries, fewer people work with the business. It will then be difficult to participate, influence and review the business to the extent that is desirable. It will also be very difficult to keep up with other important tasks that the student unions have to work with, such as work environment work or study social activities.

In connection with the abolition of the compulsory union in 2009, a government grant was introduced for the student unions. The grant was intended as a compensation for the reduced income that resulted from fewer students joining the union and paying membership fees. With a grant, the student unions could continue to conduct the activities that, among other things, the Higher Education Act, the Higher Education Ordinance and the Student Union Ordinance require. 

The investigation that was the basis for the abolition of the union bond, Freedom for students (SOU 2008: 11), proposed that the student unions should receive a grant of SEK 310 per full-time student to cover the reduced income. In practice, the aid introduced was only a third of that amount and remained at that level for the first decade. 

In 2017, the University Chancellor's Office published the report Student influence - Mapping and analysis of the conditions of student influence after the abolition of the compulsory student union (UKÄ report 2017: 4). There, UKÄ identified a problem with the student unions being underfunded, that different student unions have very different conditions, and that many unions are in a position of dependence on their higher education institutions. UKÄ writes that "the most important measure is to finance student influence more fully and in a more equal way". The University Chancellor's Office recommends that the triple state grant to the student unions be tripled or quadrupled. SFS shares the image that UKÄ landed in. 

With the Budget Bill 2020, however, the government and the co-operation parties have proposed increasing the state subsidy by 65 percent, from SEK 106 to approximately SEK 175 per student. After the increase takes effect, it will need to be evaluated to determine if it was sufficient to strengthen the student unions' independence.

The state subsidy to the student unions is included in the state budget's expenditure area 16, appropriation item 2:67. It is paid to each higher education institution in the form of support for student influence. It is then the task of the higher education institutions to distribute the money to the student unions.