Since 2017 Sammen has been renovating old blocks at the student dorms at Fantoft. Before they were old 60/70s styled apartments that got complaints about living standards from the residents.
The renovations started early 2018 with D/C block, which opened the summer of 2018. A/B block opened this June after a year of renovation.
These new renovations comes at a price. Students now have to pay 4600 NOK, a 60 percent increase, for a bachelor apartment and a doubled price of 7 150 NOK for a two-room apartment. These prices do not include 250 NOK in electricity.
Over the Budget
Not everyone is satisfied about this increase. One of them is Shifat Rahman who is volunteering at Tenants Union Fantoft (TU) and a member of the International Student Union at the University of Bergen (ISU UIB).
He has lived at Fantoft for four years and says the increased prices have affected him, as a long term resident, and the exchange students living here.
– It is a serious problem in my view. Exchange students get less money and this increase makes it more difficult to budget their life here, says Rahman.
Some exchange students that Studvest has talked to are getting 520 euro (about 5200 NOK) monthly as a part of their Erasmus scholarship to cover their needs during their exchange semester. However, grants differ from sending and host countries, according to Erasmus+.
Fantoft is located approximately 7 km from the city center, the 460 NOK monthly skyss card is therefore a necessity for them. Thus, the expenses for housing at Fantoft all together surpasses the amount of 5300 NOK.
Student Rahman has previously been critical to Sammen and met with them in May to discuss the increased rental prices.
Use of Sammen’s Rental Income
Lars Longva, the Communication Advisor from Sammen, explains in an e-mail to Studvest that they try their best to fulfill housing demands of all applicants while distributing the apartments.
– Our rental price is calculated on the basis of quality, size and the cost of operating a dorm. We have no owners that make profit of it, unlike private landlords. So the income Sammen gets from the rent goes back to the students, he writes.
Sammen is using the rental income for renovations and maintenance, social measures for residents and big development projects.
The new residential buildings are financed through allocations from the Ministry of Education and Research (Kunnskapsdepartementet) and a loan from the Norwegian Housing Bank. Housing maintenance is financed through the students rent.
– Sammen will always have and always will strive for lower rental prices than students get on the private market, writes Longva.
Problem for Students
The cheaper rooms available at Fantoft are the shared dorms. However, students like Rahman, that live at Fantoft long term, do not have the opportunity to rent these. Rahman wishes this could be different.
– It is not allowed for students living at Fantoft for a longer period to rent shared dorms. Sammen is renting them only for the exchange students, which stays for a year at the most.
Longva from Sammen explains that the reason for this is that there are more exchange students during the fall semester compared to the spring. To guarantee housing, and to avoid empty rooms during the spring semester, they keep some of the rooms available for short term rental only.
Students Look for Alternatives
Rahman explain that lots of students live in the same room at Fantoft – 2-3 people in one single room, to share the price since the growth. Adding that some students look for other alternatives, where there may be a lower standard of living.
He believes that having the opportunity to rent shared dorms long term could solve some of the problem.
– The students living long term would then be able to pay less for the accommodation here instead of looking for cheaper apartments with bad living conditions, he says.
This article previously stated that exchange students get 520 euro monthly as a part of their Erasmus scholarship. However this may vary, and has been corrected.