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Students slam housing idea: 'We're not lab rats'

Published: 11 Jan 2013 15:22 GMT+01:00

"If you want to simplify building rules, student housing is the first place to start," Ulf Perbo, top aide (statssekreterare) to Sweden's housing minister, is quoted as saying in a construction trade magazine.

He suggested students could do without a common room and a kitchen, and that sacrifices in living area were an option.

"It's not a life threatening catastrophe," Perbo told the magazine.

Erik Pedersen, vice chair of Sweden's Student Unions (Sveriges förenade studentkårer), reacted angrily.

"This shows the attitude that students are second-class citizens," he told Sveriges Radio (SR).

"We are not lab rats."

Meanwhile, Housing Minister Stefan Attefall hurried to his aide's defence.

"The quotes are exaggerated and not presented in context," he said.

A record number of students were accepted to Stockholm universities at the beginning of the academic year, yet at the same time the student housing situation has never been so dire.

Estimates at the time said only 15 percent of students had ready access to accommodation provided by the university.

The National Board of Housing, Building and Planning (Boverket) is currently investigating if it is possible to simplify construction rules and regulations. It should present its report in the summer of 2013, reports SR.

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Your comments about this article

17:04 January 11, 2013 by NataBee
No common room is still okay, but no kitchen???? I mean, WHAT??? So we students should be happy with only a shoebox next to a poop hole, we can survive with ketchup & spaghetti, no cooking is probably a proper saving strategy?

Ridiculous! Who are they to decide what other human beings can go with or without?
18:53 January 11, 2013 by Achilles7
Here's a crazy idea: why not go back to the good old days when you actually had to be quite intelligent to go to university and they only accepted a select few? Nowadays every man and his dog can get into university - and they do - hence the shortage of facilities.
19:20 January 11, 2013 by john201004
He is just nuts. Stupid...
21:50 January 11, 2013 by sparc
@Achilles7: Your perspective is simply wrong. Our civilization has evolved too much comparing to the 50s or even the 80s, and with that evolution comes a need for great numbers of educated people.

I work in IT so I'll use that field as a first example. Bare with me...

Back in the first years of computers, systems used to be around a few thousand lines of code and building them the art of a few bright minds. By the turn of the century, a common system would consist of hundreds of thousands of lines. Today a simple desktop pc uses many millions (just Office is a few million lines).

Designing such systems requires highly sophisticated education and much experience (call me MSc and in some cases even PhD, just as a minimum requirement). Contrary to designing, implementing such complex systems is not a task for a select few; it would just take forever. Thus the need for plenty of BSc equipped programmers. Unfortunately, high school is not enough for acquiring such skills. It also takes experience and that needs time.

The select few you are talking about are the ones that today continue their studies into MSc and PhD degrees, eventually becoming software architects. Most stop at BSc and are employed as implementers/developers. Think of it as the distinction between architects and builders.

Now that i think about it, you can reach the same conclusions through the field of construction. Compare today's skyscrapers to the smaller, simpler buildings of the past. Just imagine how many factors have to be considered if such buildings are to be erected in a very hostile environment (Dubai) or any earthquake-prone country (i.e. Japan, west coast USA, Greece etc).

Other examples are almost all fields of study, may it be medicine, humanities or classical science.

Bottom line, if you enjoy today's technological miracles and the quality of life they provide, you should be thankful for the many people who decide not to be farmers and go to the university.
13:54 January 12, 2013 by Scepticion
before people complain, perhaps they should look how student dorms in the USA and the UK are organized, even at top universities like Harvard etc. Two people per room, common bathrooms, no kitchen, large common cafeterias, etc. So, one could take the opposite view that Swedish students are spoiled.
02:17 January 14, 2013 by DAVID T
Students always complain - If they don't like it then leave
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