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Several students have claimed that Studentsamskipnaden in Bergen (SiB) are tricking them into signing a new tenancy contract rather than extending the old contract. Chairman of SiB, Tor S. Prestegard states that they are not familiar with this problem on the board, but that they are now oriented on the matter.
When Prestegard is asked about students being cheated, he replies that this is not a statement he agrees with.
– We always try to provide the best information possible for the students. It is unfortunate of course, if someone feels that we have fooled them. It is however not something that SiB does or intends to do.
Prestegard explains that it is SiBs job to ensure that students understand what the contract involves and what rights and responsibilities they have in relation to the tenancy contract.
Listen to the interview here (norwegian):
The institutions’ mistake?
Most of the complaints are from exchange students, who may only lease for one semester and thusly have to get a new contract from January. Which again causes that they must pay for June, even though most of them leave in May.
Prestegard explains that it is the institutions that does not allow students to receive a one-year contract.
– They get a “reservation code” that says that these students will be staying for just one semester. And that is what goes into our system and with the contract they will receive. It is simply because the educational institutions are saying that these student will be here for just one semester.
Prestegard says that SIB has realized that this can be challenging and that they should therefore change the system from this spring.
– We will add new codes so that you can then tell the university if you are going to be studying for one year. Thus, we can avoid these kind of problems.
It has been said that SIB is basing their lease on the basis of what the educational institutions provide of information about the student, and they will draw up a contract to the student based on this information. Prestegard points out that it is important, for both parties, to follow the obligations and the rights that the lease implies, and when a new contract comes up in January, it will follow new rights and obligations.
New contract instead of an extension
The reason why most of the students feels deceived, is because they are being offered a new contract rather than an extension of the old contract. Prestegard says they are legally bound to give them a new contract, because the old contract has expired, thus the students are given a new contract.
– But it should be said that this problem here applies to a very few cases, the students who stayed here one semester or had a contract for one semester, but really was going to stay for one whole year.
It is explained further that they are going to look at these cases, and in the future they will make sure that no other students find themselves in a such difficult situation. He notes that this is of course a major problem for SIB.
– We are supposed to ensure that all of the students have as good welfare services as possible. So it is clear that we must follow up and ensure that the students does not feel that they are given a bad offer and last but not least: that they feel their rights and obligations are taken care of.
Confusing answers from the information center
Obviously many students goes to the SIB’s information desk, at the Student Center, for help if they feel confused. But lately, many have felt even more frustrated and confused after talking with the employees behind the information desk. Prestegard believes that the staff in the information center is not ignorant.
– We have a very good staff that works at the Student Center, that will respond to an incredible number of questions about the whole portfolio, offerings and services that SIB provides. But of course it is unfortunate for students that feel they have received wrong or unclear information. This should not happen.
Prestegard says that they follow their employees very closely, so that they can provide the right information to the students. But there is a lot of information for the employees to keep track of, so misunderstandings can quickly arise. He encourages students to contact SIB if they feel like they have received wrong information.
– Those who feel that they have been given wrong or incorrect information, please contact our housing department to ensure that we can follow you up in a good way, so that you are being taken care of.
The best Student welfare organization in Norway
Prestegard says that the students often contacts SIB, and therefore he feels that they have a good dialogue with the customers, the students.
– It is important to us that we are easily accessible to the students. It is the students who are us and who owns us really. It is the students who governs the student welfare organization in Bergen, and especially it is the students who use the welfare Organization.
Although they feel they have good contact with the customer base, and they were arranged as the best student welfare organization in Norway, there are still some things that can be improved.
– We will always strive better ourselves and provide better information to the students to ensure that they actually get the attention they want and need.
Prestegard is making it clear that the students have to contact SIB if they feel like they have not been given the right treatment regarding the lease problems.
– We will ensure that the students are happy, that they get the offers they should be given. They should be confident that we will prioritize all inquiries they come with, with a good and attentive manner.
I denne vekas utgåve av Nyhetsuka får du høyre om at universitetsstyret valde å nedstemme forslaget om bøtelegging av forsinka sensur, dei nyleg offentleggjorte søkartala til UiB for neste skuleår, og debatt om korvidt utveksling burde vere obligatorisk eller ikkje. I studio: Kristin Aakvaag og Stine-Sofie Rivedal.