What is 'Vaka'?
Vaka is a student interest association for students studying at the University of Iceland. Vaka has been chaired the Student Council 47 times in the past 94 years. The Icelandic Student Loan Fund (Lánasjóður Íslenskra Námsmanna) was established in 1961 when Vaka was the majority in the Student Council. Likewise was Félagsstofnun Stúdenta (FS) established in 1968 on the initiative of the Student Council, which was a major turning point for students in the University of Iceland. One of FS‘ primary goals was to transfer the power into the hands of students, which has worked. FS oversees, among other things, Stúdentagarðar (Student Accommodation), Leikskóli (Preschool), Bóksala Stúdenta (Student Bookstore), Háma, and Stúdentakjallarinn (The Student Cellar).
Apply for Vaka‘s committees!
There are diverse and fun committees within Vaka to join.
Participating in said committees is a great way to get to know the
organizations‘ inner work.
The International Committee is responsible for introducing Vaka‘s policy to international students and encouraging them to participate in the organization.
The role of the Marketing Committee is divided into three parts. The committee is mainly responsible for making Vaka visible on all major social media platforms, handles Vaka‘s fundraising, and takes part in the design of the merchandise.
The Policy Committee is responsible for the organizations’ issues. Its role is to shape Vaka’s policy.
Each school year Vaka publishes two issues – Glaðvakandi in the fall term and the election paper in the spring term. The Editorial Committee is responsible for the publishing of those publications as well as the proofreading and translating of articles and other materials published by Vaka.
Vaka has been long known for its events, and it is the Entertainment Committee that is responsible for the planning, implementing and managing of Vaka’s events.
Distance learning and online teaching
Students deserve equal access to education, it is that simple. People from outside the capital region should not have to uproot their lives in order to pursue university studies.
People with disabilities should not have to rely on the goodwill of individual teachers to be able to pursue their studies. People who live with a mental or physical illness should not have to prioritize attending a lecture over their health.
People with families should not have to miss exams or lessons because they have to pick up their children from school or take them to the doctor.
Distance learning and online teaching methods at the University of Iceland have a long way to go, but the knowledge is available withing the university, at the School of Education for example.
Lack of knowledge or will is no longer an excuse and UI must take action in these matters if it is to be considered a renowned university.
Vaka has shown its willingness to make changes in this regard and will continue to do so for the foreseeablefuture as there is always room for improvement.
One-third of Icelandic students are parents
Vaka places special emphasis on their interests and issues. It is important to take into account the different circumstances of people and thus ensure that students who have children and/or are expecting a child/children are not discriminated against or denied access to their studies.
For those students that studying during pregnancy or in the first year after the birth of a child, Vaka wants attendance to be flexible.
It is also important that parents are shown consideration when it comes to children's sick days.
Vaka wants Icelandic Student Services' kindergartens to have more flexible summer holidays and for the University to take into account the teachers organizing days of the kindergartens and the winter holidays of primary schools.
Vaka places great emphasis on raising student's maternity/paternity grants significantly, as parents' education should not hurt their children and trap families in poverty.
Loan Fund Issues
During the last electoral period, significant improvements were made in the loan fund system. The Icelandic Student Loan Fund was replaced by the Student Education Fund. This change was accompanied by, among other things, a 30% write-off of principal and indexation if studies are completed within a certain period of time, for the benefit of students.
The current student loan system will be reviewed in the coming electoral period and therefore this is a unique opportunity for us to make an impact, as there is much that can be improved.
The income threshold for student loans needs to be abolished, but at present, the rights to student loans are reduced by ISK 45 for every ISK 100 which the borrower earns in excess of ISK 1.410.000 in a year.
The basic maintenance allowance for student loans must be increased so that it is based on the Ministry of Social Affairs' typical consumption criteria. Both are conducive to improving students' financial situation. An interest rate cap on student loans should be considered.
Finally, the fund's transparency needs to be increased so that the applicant knows what to expect when applying for a student loan.
Every year in March the elections to the Student Council of the University of Iceland take place. Students vote between candidate lists in their School of study and council representatives are given seats according to the proportion of votes.
The Student Council consists of 17 representatives and as the system is today, there are 3 representatives from each School, except for 5 representatives from the School of Social Sciences.
The Student Council (SHÍ) promotes and protects the interests of students at the University of Iceland. The council arranges large events for all students at the university, such as Oktoberfest, and an autumn and spring semester end-of-exams dance.