Scan Magazine | Issue 70 | November 2014

Page 85

2_0_ScanMag_70_Nov_2014_Text:Scan Magazine 1



Page 85

Scan Magazine | Special Theme | Education in Norway

Sports and music enlightenment in Arctic surroundings Vefsn Folkehøgskole is a folk high school located by the Arctic Circle in Northern Norway. Folk high schools offer young adults over 18 years of age an opportunity of personal enlightenment by studying a year or two on a boarding school basis. There are no formal entry requirements, finishing exams or formal degrees. By Stian Sangvig | Photos: Morten Eriksen

“Vefsn Folkehøgskole offers courses in sports, outdoors, music and theatre in Arctic surroundings close to the sea and next to an 800 metre high mountain,” Head Mistress Cathrine Markussen explains. New accommodation is under construction for the next academic year, and the folk high school can accommodate up to 90 students. Lines of study are divided into ‘Work @ Music’, ‘Work @ Stage’, ‘Sound, Light, Stage’, ‘Fitness Pulse’, ‘Total Sports’ and ‘Kayak & Climbing’. “The latter includes a field trip to Canada, and the music courses are useful in preparing students for music conservatoires,” Markussen continues. The school focuses on the entirety of the human being in their teaching, and students typically work in

small groups where it is up to each individual what he or she wants to achieve. “We feel privileged to be based by the sea with high mountains and an archipelago. Three national parks and the Svartisen glacier are nearby, too,” Markussen outlines. The contrasts between light summers and dark winters also add a distinctly Arctic perspective to the outdoors education. With its 13,500 inhabitants the nearby town Mosjøen can offer a number of cultural activities and efficient transport links, like an airport and a railway station. The folk high school also collaborates with the town on access to and use of facilities and equipment for sports and music.

Arctic flair to a university degree from UNIS The University Centre in Svalbard (UNIS) is an institution for higher education in Longyearbyen on the Norwegian archipelago Svalbard, which is halfway between Northern Norway and the North Pole. Its location makes it the northernmost university of its kind, offering courses in Arctic Biology, Arctic Geology, Arctic Geophysics and Arctic Technology to graduate and postgraduate students alike, complementing their degrees at universities elsewhere. By Stian Sangvig | Photos: UNIS

“UNIS is a shareholding company, which was formed in 1993 with the Norwegian Ministry of Education and Research owning 100 per cent of the shares,” explains Information Manager Eva Therese Jenssen. “Half of this year’s 550 students are foreign,” she continues. UNIS’s ob-

jective is to offer Arctic facilities and perspectives to their students’ degrees. Courses at a BA level typically last four months and often provide the first experience of fieldwork to the students. Postgraduate courses, on the other hand, are shorter, but they involve more fieldwork.

Vefsn Folkehøgskole offers courses in sports, outdoors, music and theatre in Arctic surroundings close to the sea.

For more information, please visit:

Svalbard’s unique geographic location, as well as a cold, dry and windy climate, require students to participate in a weeklong safety course at UNIS before their normal course begins. Topics include: adequate clothing, GPS navigation, how to use a map and compass, and how to handle firearms. Local law requires carrying the latter whenever venturing outside Longyearbyen, in case of an unlikely and most reluctant rendezvous with one of the archipelago’s polar bears. “Students enjoy a good urban life in Longyearbyen in addition to the great outdoor offerings, as the town has a number of cafes, restaurants, shops and festivals,” says Jenssen. Svalbard’s non-VAT status may also help a student’s budget. For more information, please visit:

Issue 70 | November 2014 | 85

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