There’s never been a more important time for UK SUs to nurture links with Europe – and our partners around the continent have much to offer to aid the development of student representation, democracy and services in the student interest.
Back in 2017 a group of SU officers and managers toured around Scandinavia on an extraordinary and magical week-long journey – and early in 2022 we’re doing it all again. The Wonkhe SUs European Study Tour in January will travel to Denmark, Sweden and Norway to see what we can learn from our cousins in the frozen North.
We had originally intended to travel to Belgium and the Netherlands – but discussion with SUs and universities in the “low countries” has made us nervous about ongoing Covid restrictions, particularly in relation to getting into the countries and getting back. So instead we’ve switched to Scandinavia for the 2022 incarnation – where there’s a whole bunch of fascinating things to see, discuss and learn.
We’ve also as a result put the tour back a week, kicking off in Denmark on January 11th, and wrapping up on Friday January 14th in Norway. On the way we’ll take in fifteen student organisations, three countries, twelve “nations” and a bizarre motorway service area. We’ll learn about a 1500 capacity venue staffed entirely by volunteers, a freshers focussed on kicking students in, and an approach to student representation and rights that puts the UK to shame – all on the tiniest of budgets.
This year, following feedback from last time around we’ve built in some more time to reflect and network with other SUs on the trip, as well as some more “down time” – although it will still be a pretty intense few days!
How does it work
SUs normally send an officer and a manager, although other combinations are allowed! You are responsible for booking flights and accommodation (both of which are fairly inexpensive at that time of year).
We’ll book the in-country travel, plan the itinerary and set up the meetings with the local and national SUs. It’s an amazing opportunity to spend time with other SU officers and managers, build links with European counterparts and bring back endless ideas for making student lives and SUs better.
We’re still confirming some meetings but here’s the sort of thing we expect to happen:
At the time of writing flights to Copenhagen can be found from as little as £30pp from London. Accommodation in the CityHub Copenhagen is around £53 B&B. You can also fly in early on Tuesday!
On the first day in the morning we’ll meet for the start of the tour in Copenhagen, where we’ll meet with Danske Studerendes Fællesråd (Denmark’s NUS). We’ll have lunch with the University of Copenhagen’s SU and their remarkable approach to elections, and a building in the centre of the city run by students, for students that does fascinating things with international student integration.
We’ll then travel by coach to Copenhagen’s business school to meet the SU (which has an interesting take on student involvement), and we’ll finish up with a meal and social time over the Oresund bridge with the SU in Malmo (where “the union is BIG when you feel small”).
Accommodation in the Best Western near the SU is around £60 B&B.
In the morning our coach will take us via Lund to Gothenburg SU who we’ll have lunch with where they will share interesting approaches to student representation and student activities, and in the afternoon we’ll call in at Jonkoping SU who like to “kick in” their new students. We’ll eat at a unique motorway service area and there will be time for social activity when we arrive in Linkoping.
Accommodation in the Comfort Hotel Linköping is around £60 B&B.
We’ll spend much of the day in Uppsala where we’ll check out the city’s “student nations”. We’ll then travel to Stockholm where we’ll spend some time with Sveriges Förenade Studentkårer (Sweden’s NUS) and Stockholm University’s SU which owns catering outlets across the city. They’ll then take us for a curry.
Accommodation in the Connect Hotel City is around £47 B&B.
Then on the final full day we’ll travel to Karlstad (Sweden’s Sunshine City) to learn about their unique approaches to civic engagement and policy making, and we’ll end the day in Oslo in Norway where we’ll “do the triple” of a meeting with Norsk studentorganisasjon (Norway’s NUS), Oslo University’s SU and SiO – a student co-operative regional student welfare organisation that runs housing, sport, counselling, societies, cafes and even careers services. We’ll then go for Pizza and there will be some time to socialise in Oslo.
Accommodation in the CityBox Oslo is around £70 B&B.
Time to return to the UK, or a day to bolt on for personal time if you wish. Flights from Oslo to London can be found from £30pp
How much will it all cost?
An indication of flight costs can be found above. We expect coach costs to come in at a maximum of £175pp, with any excess collected into a kitty and used to pay for meals. As you can see above we expect accommodation for the week to cost around £300 depending on options taken. Therefore the total per person should be possible on around £500 – £600pp depending on where you’re flying from.
What is the business case?
We’ve uploaded an example business case for use internally here. The feedback from previous trips suggests it’s the best bit of development/training spend you’ll make all year.
What do we do next
We will need to confirm the coach booking and that we have sufficient numbers to proceed by Friday 22nd October so we will need ideally each SU to confirm participation (at least in principle) by then. Don’t book flights until we know we have the numbers! It’s also first come first served – there’s a limit of around 35-40 participants so if we get to the max keep an eye out for our summer trip.
Do let Jim know if you have any questions.