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EACEA National Policies Platform: Youthwiki
Norway

Norway

5. Participation

5.3 Youth representation bodies

On this page
  1. Youth parliament
  2. Youth councils and/or youth advisory boards
  3. Higher education student union(s)
  4. School student union(s)
  5. Other bodies

Youth parliament

Norway has no regular formal consultation body at state executive or legislative level (a national youth parliament, or institutionalized youth council).

An expert committee reporting on youth participation in 2011 recommended against such an arrangement proposing the need to strengthen regional representative bodies for youth first (Official Norwegian Report 2011:20).

A pilot project assembly ‘the Youth National Assembly’ took place in 2010.  The Youth National Assembly was represented by under-18 youth delegates from the various counties of Norway. The Youth National Assembly voted in favour of an institutionalized state level political body.

From 2019 and with the revision of the Local Government Act it became mandatory with formal consultative bodies/youth councils for youth at municipal and county levels. The municipal council and the county council decide on the composition of the youth council or other participation body for young people. They also decide how many members and deputies the councils should have. Organizations representing young people have the right to submit proposals for members of the council that represents their interests. The councils themselves elect their chairman and deputy chairman from among the members. The councils have the right to express an opinion before the municipal council and the county council set up a secretariat, lay down the case processing rules and adopt a budget for them.

The councils have a term of office of up to two years. Members shall not have reached the age of 19 at the time of election. The Directorate for Children, Youth and Family Affairs has developed a guide for youth councils.

Youth councils and/or youth advisory boards

The Norwegian Children and Youth Council (LNU) is an independent umbrella youth organization, representing 100 youth organizations. Member organisations must be voluntary, independent, and democratic organizations that represent children and youth. The organization also needs to have a national scope/representation. 

The roles and responsibilities of LNU is to:

  • Assists and offers expertise to their membership organizations

  • Be an important agent in lobbying for the interest of youth and children

  • Be a ‘go to’ consultant from the government in the processing of new laws and initiatives

  • Distribute grants by applicant basis. LNU administers several grant schemes: the bulk grants are provided by different ministries; among them the Norwegian Ministry of Children and Equality, the Norwegian Ministry of Knowledge and Research, and the Norwegian Ministry of Culture (Frifond).  LNU distributes grants on behalf of the Ministry of Children and Equality, called LNU Mangfold og Inkludering [LNU Diversity and Inclusion] LNU also distributes grants to facilitate exchanges, and to encourage north-south encounters.

  • Co-operator with the county youth councils [BUR-samarbeidet]

  • Organise the annual children and youth parliament (Barne- og ungdomstinget, BUT)

LNU receives funding from the Norwegian Ministry of Children and Equality, and is financially accountable to the ministry. Regulations on grants to voluntary children's and youth organizations constitutes the legal basis for funding.

Higher education student union(s)

Norway has two main bodies representing the interests of tertiary education students:

The National Union of Students in Norway [Norsk studentorganisasjon – NSO]: NSO  is the largest organisation for students in Norway. The organization has 30 member unions from higher education institutions across the country. The member unions represent more than 240 000 students.

NSO is an independent organisation that works with politicians, administrative officials, the Norwegian State Educational Loan Fund (Lånekassen), and the managements and leadership of higher education institutions across the country to improve the conditions of students financially, academically and socially.

One of the main pillars of the NSO statues is matters of inclusion and equality. The main areas of focus are (list not complete):

  • Universal access to higher education.

  • Emphasis on recruiting from sub-populations that are less represented in current academia.

  • Equal gender balance (actively facilitated through use of quotas etc).

  • The representation and safe spaces of all religious affiliates and ethnicities/cultures.

  • Active institutional arrangements and routines to handle bullying, discrimination and harassment.

The organizations has a set of stated ‘Principles of good standing and organizational culture’ [Prinsipper for oppførsel og organisasjonskultur i NSO] and a Platform on Diversity, Inclusion and Equal opportunity [Mangfalds- inkluderings- og likestillingspolitisk platform].

NSO receives public funding from the Norwegian Ministry of Education and Research and is financially accountable to the ministry.

The main organs of the union are:

  • The General Assembly [Landsmøtet]  which is held annually and in which all member unions are represented.

  • The Central Executive Committee [Sentralstyret] which is the highest authority of the organization in-between general assemblies and which meets regularly (minimum 6 meetings annually). The committee has 13 members and 13 deputy members elected at the General Assembly, and has a one-year mandate

  • The Working Committee [Arbeidsutvalget] which is the executive branch of the central organization. It consists of 6 full time positions hired by the Central Executive Committee for a fixed term of 4 years.

  • There are several committees Political Committees [Politiske komiteer] with members elected at the General Assembly .

  • The Professional Council [Fagrådet] elected at the General Assembly

  • The Electoral Committee [Valgkomiteen] which pre-selects candidates for honorary positions. The committee consists of five members elected at the general assembly and has a one-year mandate

  • The Control/Audit Committee [Kontrollkomiteen] which oversees that the organization honours the current steering documents and regulations.  The committee has a one-year mandate, and the four members are elected at the General Assembly

  • The Statutory Committee  [Vedtekstkomiteen] which manages incoming suggestions to changes of the organization’s statues. The committee has a one-year mandate and the three members are elected at the General Assembly

  • The Committee on the Declaration of Principles [Prinsipprogramkomiteen] which manages revisions to the Declaration of Principles. The committee has a one-year mandate and the five members are elected at the General Assembly

The National Union of Students in Higher Vocational Education and Training in Norway [Organisasjon for Norske Fagskolestudenter] is a politically independent organization that represents students in vocational schools in Norway. The organization has 30 member unions from tertiary VET institutions across the country. The member unions represent more than 10 400 students.

The Union works to provide information on student rights, and to influence the national and local school politics in Norway.  The organization offers professional counselling for vocational students.

NSO receives public funding from the Norwegian Ministry of Education and Research and is financially accountable to the ministry.

The main organs of the union are:

  • General Assembly [Landsmøtet] which is held annually and in which all member unions are represented.

  • The Central Board [Hovedstyret] which the highest authority of the organization in-between general assemblies. It is also the executive unit of the organization. The committee has 5 members and 5 deputy members elected at the General Assembly, and has a one-year mandate

  • Electoral Committee [Valgkomiteen] which pre-selects candidates for honorary positions. The committee consists of five members elected at the general assembly and has a one-year mandate

  • Control/Audit Committee [Kontrollkomiteen] which oversees that the organization honours the current steering documents and regulations. The committee has a one-year mandate, and the two members are elected at the General Assembly

  • The General Assembly may also initiate Ad-Hoc committees.

School student union(s)

School Student Union of Norway (SSUN) [Elevorganisasjonen (EO)] is a national, politically independent organization that organizes and represents students in Norwegian schools.

SSUN works to provide information on student rights, and to influence the national and local school politics in Norway.  The organization currently organizes students in lower- and upper secondary school, and apprentices under secondary education training [ungdomsskole og videregående skole].

The organization has 18 county unions [Fylkeslag] and over 400 school (organizational) members [Medlemsskoler]across the country. The organization represent more than 140 000 school students.

SSUN is based on institutionalized membership. A school can become a member if the majority of the students at the school vote yes during a ballot held by SSUN. Students doing their apprenticeship period can become a member of an apprentice council within SSUN. School students, who are not a part of the organization through their school, can become an individual member.

SSUN works with politicians, administrative officials, the Norwegian State Educational Loan Fund (Lånekassen), and the managements and leadership of schools across the country to improve the conditions of pupils and students financially, academically, and socially.

The SSUN statues state that committee and board representatives are to be equally divided between the genders, and by geographical representations. Ethnic or other minority identities are not mentioned.

SSUN receives public funding from the Norwegian Ministry of Education and Research and is financially accountable to the ministry.

The main organs of the union are:

  • The General Assembly [Landsmøtet]  which is held annually and in which all county unions are represented.

  • The National Committee [Landsstyret] which the highest authority of the organization in-between general assemblies. The committee has 18 members elected at the General Assembly, and has a one-year mandate

  • Central Executive Committee and the General Secretary [Sentralstyret (SST) og generalsekretæren] are elected at the General Assembly, and has a one-year mandate

  • County Committees [Fylkesstyrene] which are the executive branches of the organization at county level are elected at the General Assembly, and has a one-year mandate

Other bodies

The Norwegian Association of Youth with Disabilities [Unge funksjonshemmede] is an umbrella organisation representing 37 organisations for children and youth with disabilities or chronic disease.

It is an independent organisation that works to improve the rights of youth with disabilities, particularly to the right to education, rehabilitation, and to inform youth with disabilities about their rights.

The association receives funding from the Norwegian Ministry of Children and Families and is financially accountable to the ministry.  Regulations on grants to voluntary children's and youth organizations constitutes the legal basis for funding.