Vulnerable students are not getting help

One initiative could help more students complete their studies

Photo: Silje Eide / Norsk Epilepsiforbund
Secretary General of the Norwegian Epilepsy Association Sissel Karin Haavaag is concerned that students with medical diagnoses are not adequately accommodated in higher education in Norway.

Sissel Karin Haavaag
Secretary General, Epilepsiforbundet

Last winter, Epilepsiforbundet (the Norwegian Epilepsy Association) was contacted by one of our members. Let’s call her “Nora.” Nora is a young student who has three diagnoses, including epilepsy. She was distraught because her professors refused to record their lectures.

Despite informing them of her medical situation, she was met with refusal. Nora experiences periods of extreme fatigue and is often unable to attend lectures in person. In addition, she has regular doctor’s appointments that conflict with lecture times.

It is surprising that the needs of vulnerable student groups have not been sufficiently prioritized. Students with medical diagnoses are a forgotten group in the debate about video recording of lectures. This student group must be given a statutory right to video recordings of lectures.

Colleges and universities already accommodate wheelchair users and disabled people, but students with diagnoses are not getting the accommodation they need.

Video recording of lectures provides the necessary flexibility for students with diagnoses. This flexibility could be the determining factor for whether a student completes their course of studies.

For years, politicians have debated which measures could help more young people join the workforce. Ensuring access to video recordings of lectures is one measure that can prevent more young people from being excluded from the labor market.

During the pandemic, all classes were online, and for many students, this arrangement was of great importance.

Colleges and universities must listen to students. Students want digital access to lectures. The student council at Norwegian University of Science and Technology in Trondheim, which represents 38,000 students, voted in favor of more digital lectures in 2021.

There were also major student protests at the Norwegian School of Economics in 2019 and 2022 when the administration attempted to end video lectures.

There are about 45,000 people in Norway with epilepsy and about half of them receive disability benefits and are not working.

To prevent Nora from becoming another grim statistic, it is crucial that educational institutions accommodate students with special needs.

Translated by Ragnhild Hjeltnes.

This op-ed was originally published on June 13, 2023, in Bergens Tidende and has been translated and reprinted with the author’s permission.

This article originally appeared in the August 2023 issue of The Norwegian American.

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The Norwegian American is North America's oldest and only Norwegian newspaper, published since May 17, 1889.