Student nations cooperate to secure their futures
30 April 2021
Uppsala’s student nations have had a tough time during the pandemic. Both Uppsala University and Uppsala Municipality have made financial contributions and the 13 student nations are collaborating to ensure that they will be able to return to operating on a large scale in future.
Student nations have played an important role in student life in Uppsala since the seventeenth century, providing a home away from home for many students, where they can meet friends, study, take part in activities and visit the pub or night club. Over the past year, however, the financial situation has been grim.
“The drop in income last year was enormous, so we are doing what we can to bring in external support to the nations. We are keen to ensure that all nations survive the pandemic and can open properly as soon as the pandemic releases its grip,” says Clara Eklöf, Curator Curatorum of the Curators Committee, the collaborative body for Uppsala’s student nations.
Student nations remain open to a certain extent, for example, providing study places to avoid overcrowding on the University’s campuses. Restaurants are also open until 20:00 in accordance with applicable restrictions.
“It’s important that students in need of a safe place to go can find one, so they don’t feel completely isolated in their student corridors. We are all aware that mental ill health has increased during the pandemic, so it’s important that there is a safe, pandemic-adapted place to go.”
Support from the University and the municipality
As soon as the severity of the student nations’ financial situation became clear, Uppsala University went in with support totalling SEK 8 million. Uppsala Municipality has also contributed funding of SEK 2.4 million.
“This means a great deal, especially as it shows how highly the University and municipality value the student nations and the important role they play in Uppsala as a student city. All support that the nation can secure is greatly appreciated, but we must continue to seek further support,” says Clara Eklöf.
Securing the future of the University’s student nations is a matter of considerable importance to University Management.
“Our student nations play a crucial role in Uppsala’s educational environment and make a positive contribution to the wellbeing of students. Not least, the nations mean a great deal to international students in Uppsala,” says deputy vice-chancellor Coco Norén.
Student nations are intended to provide both a social study environment and to safeguard the University’s cultural heritage. Both of these elements need to be safeguarded and a great deal of work is ongoing to ensure that experiences can be exchanged between older students and those who have not had the opportunity to experience nation life “in real life”, as Clara Eklöf explains.
“We want to guarantee that they don’t simply get through the pandemic, but that they can actually conduct all of the activities, continue to have choirs and associations, theatre productions and formal sit-down events. This is about both festive and cultural arrangements, which of course really go hand in hand.”
The importance of solidarity
Some student nations have stated that they are experiencing a particularly difficult financial situation and are consequently holding their own fund-raising campaigns. That said, the nations are collaborating to a great extent and the support from both the University and the municipality has gone through the Curators Committee, so that the nations themselves can decide how it should be divided.
“This provides opportunities for displays of solidarity and I consider it important for the nations that they all make it through [the current difficulties]. It is not simply a matter of their own survival. I’m sure everyone is aware that without all 13 nations, Uppsala will not be the same. If anything has been strengthened during the pandemic, it is the cooperation between the student nations,” says Clara Eklöf.