The student council plays an essential role at UNIS and is an opportunity for students to become further involved during their stay. It is a group of thirteen different students who are elected by their fellow students and are responsible for the student living activities such as influencing UNIS politics, social gatherings, student welfare equipment and more.
The UNIS Student Council (SC) consists of thirteen elected members which form the local student democracy. Student representatives are elected at the beginning of every semester by the Student body. The four main responsibilities are:
- Representation within political and administrative structures: Student Council members are part of the UNIS Educational Committee and the UNIS board. They bring students suggestions, opinions and demands forward, take part in discussions and vote from the student’s perspective. Close contact and collaboration with the Student Parliament in Tromsø, the Norwegian Student Organisation and the Arctic Welfare Organization in Tromsø are maintained in order to obtain a high quality learning environment, which respects the role of the students.
- Support of student social life by running activity groups and organizing social events like the weekly Friday Gatherings. Students are also encouraged to engage within the Longyearbyen society and several events organized by the Student Council are open to the whole Longyearbyen society to emphasize the important role of UNIS students within the local society.
- Running of the Student Welfare in Svalbard. Students are provided with different kinds of equipment and service offers.
- Improving the living situation on Svalbard for students and locals. This is achieved by close cooperation with Sampskipnaden, helping new students getting started in town and running the second-hand shop Bruktikken.
Positions and Responsibilities
Student Council Leader: Leading the council, organizing SC meetings, attending UNIS Educational Committee meetings, making sure that everyone in the Student Council and in the activity groups do their jobs.
Student Council Second Leader: Takes the place of the SC leader when he/she has no time. Acts as secretary of the Student Council.
Treasurer: Responsible for the SC finances. Makes the budget, pays bills and ensures that only approved money is spent.
Vice Treasurer: Assists the treasurer with position responsibilities.
Board Member: Attends meetings of the UNIS board and represents the students opinion there.
Board Observer: Attends meetings of the UNIS board as observer and reports back to the student council.
Student Department Representatives: Each department (Geology, Geophysics, Technology, Biology) and the Arctic Nature Guides sends one representative to the SC to represent their opinion. This position needs to be filled by a bachelor student.
Master Representative: Represents the master students at the SC.
Student council recognizes for many students it will be their first time coming to Svalbard and many are international students who do not have the luxury of bringing all they desire to access the outdoors with them. Therefore, student council has several services to make Svalbard more accessible to students:
Student Equipment: Every year the student equipment group is striving to provide hiking, camping, skiing, climbing and snowmobile gear to as many students as possible so that everyone can make the most of your spare time here. This also functions as a weekly hand out, where you apply into a lottery and are responsible for the items until next hand in. Be aware that the amount of equipment we have is limited. Therefore we recommend to bring your own gear if you have it.
UNIS supports this system by providing rifles for polar bear protection also for private trips. You will get more information about it during the safety training at UNIS.
Kitchen Equipment: The student council recognises that most students will not have space to bring kitchenware with them to Svalbard and therefore has taken the initiative to buy essential items and stock all the student housing in Nybyen.
Student Activity Groups
All students are invited to take part in the free time activities and events in Student Activity Groups. In addition there are also free time activities in town, like the choir, band and sports clubs that students can join. Groups which are regularly formed are:
Friday Gathering group: Organizing the Friday Gathering, a social event taking place every Friday at UNIS.
Equipment group: Organizing the hand out of the student welfare equipment.
Kitchen equipment group: Providing the kitchens in Nybyen student housing with the necessary material.
Yearbook group: Writes a yearbook about the semester from the students’ perspective.
Cabin group: Organizes the Student Cabins (which sadly means at the moment to rebuild them after they had to be torn down).
Workshop Group: Organizes the student workshop at Sjøskrenten.
Sauna Group: Organizes the Student Sauna in Nybyen.
Party group: Organizes student events and parties including the classical Icebreaker and Kitchen-to-Kitchen parties.
Environmental group: Organizes the second-hand shop Bruktikken, which offers free clothing and more to everyone in town.
Safety group: Organizing free safety seminars for students in cooperation with for example the red cross.
Knitting group: Meets for knitting, crocheting and hot cups of coffee.
Current Student Council (Spring 2021)
Student Council Leader: Elizabeth McMaster
Student Council Deputy Leader: Jonathan J.S. Runge
Treasurer: Juha Sørensen
Deputy Treasurer: Karoline Brix Andersson
UNIS Board Member: TBA
UNIS Board Observer: TBA
Student Council Contact
Student Council regulations
Student Council FAQ
Everything you might or might not want to know about your stay at UNIS: The “coolest” and northernmost FAQ (PDF)
Authors: Danielle Hallé, Markus Richter and Andreas Alexander