Foto: SAIH

From one student to another

Each year every student of the University of Tromsø pays a semester fee; and each year you are asked if you want to pay an additional fee of 30 NOK to support SAIH. But did you realize what good cause you just supported?

Written by Marie Søndergaard

SAIH – Studentenes og Akademikernes Internasjonale Hjelpefond (Norwegian Students and Academics International Assistance Fund). For some this name rings a bell while others have no idea what this is about. SAIH is an organization that believes that education – especially higher education – is essential. Through education an individual person will learn how to manage critical thinking, which is necessary for the whole world whether you live in Tanzania, China, the US, England or Norway. We all need to be a part of our societies and the debates that go on within.

SAIH is a politically independent organization. Solidarity, equality and non-discrimination are among their important values, which are essential to the work of SAIH. It is about standing together. That is why SAIH cooperate with other organizations who share the same goals and values; that everyone has the right to education and to ensure good conditions for education in several countries. Education for liberation is one of their slogans and through projects in several countries they try to live up to that slogan.

This seems for me a lot to bear and a huge goal – so how do they manage this? To get to know and understand the SAIH better I got the chance too interview Inga Marie Nymo Riseth, the president of SAIH; a young woman with a lot of passion that shines out of her. She told me about their work and projects and I will admit that it was hard not to sign up as a volunteer!

Their work
SAIH is a worldwide organization – they believe that education is a way out of poverty. Therefore, the SAIH collaborates with 40 organizations in 8 countries in Latin America, southern Africa and Asia. But the organizations are not randomly picked. Inga Marie assures me through the interview, that “the organizations promote equality, inclusion and diversity. Furthermore they follow the principles of respect for human rights and non-violence”. Their target groups are students and youths as well as academics and teachers within the education sector. Additionally the SAIH tries to improve the young people’s and marginalized groups, such as indigenous peoples’, right to relevant and quality education and support continuing education for teachers.

 Inga Marie uses Zimbabwe as an example to explain to me the improvements they have done. In 2015 827 young women in Zambia, Zimbabwe and South Africa got supporting informal training and capacity building in leadership skills. This is a huge deal in countries where woman are taught to keep their opinions for themselves. Moreover they fight for the right of the students in Zimbabwe and for a cheaper education so more people can afford it.

Inga Marie Nymo Riseth, the president of SAIH

Furthermore she tells me that they cooperate with organizations that are working on non-discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity at universities in South Africa.

The topics that the SAIH deals with are not small – they are quite the opposite, and will support long term developmental work within higher education and training for younger people within that particular area. This work is necessary and cannot be done without SAIH support.

The donations are essential for the SAIH to work and to continue supporting projects all over the world. Therefore, on behalf of the SAIH Inga Marie wants to give a special “THANKS” to the students from the University of Tromsø.

So far in 2016, SAIH has received almost 600 000 NOK from the UiT. Without donations the work of the SAIH would be impossible. It is a big help – from one student to another.

Local work
Are you more curious? The SAIH have a local office placed in Tromsø. The office is very flexible and chose their own projects they want to focus on in order to support SAIH as a whole. Cassandra Myhre, the leader for SAIH-Tromsø tells me “they balance what they want to do combined with the whole organization. SAIH Tromsø have focused a lot on stereotypes these recent years and try to enlighten that what the media is telling is not necessarily true.”
One of their focus areas has been the campaign called “Students at Risk”. This campaign led to the establishment of a program that give to students who are expelled from university or are in other ways hindered from completing their education because of their activism, the opportunity to study in Norway. . So far around 20 students are in Norway – 3 of them at UiT.

The new campaign starting in December is called the RadiAid Campaign. This will be more on an award show with two categories; The Rusty Radiator Award goes to the fundraising video with the worst use of stereotypes.
The Golden Radiator Award goes to the fundraising video using creativity and engagement.

By highlighting the best and the worst charity ads of the year, what the SAIH wants to accomplish by this award show is to change the way fundraising campaigns communicate and engage people in issues of poverty. The last years have shown that it is possible to make good charity adds without the traditional stereotypical representations. The stereotypes and oversimplifications creates an image of the receiver as being a passive actor who is lacking resources to change their livelihood. This image can easily turn into prejudice, racism, poor debate and policies. The NGO’s plays a major role in including people and their understanding of development in the world today and it is therefore crucial to fight these stereotypes and let the people know the truth.  We need debates based on knowledge – not stereotypes.

The ceremony will be December 8th in Oslo.

Do you want to join?
Did you get curious by reading this article? Do you get tickling fingers that want to do something good? Have you dreamed about doing volunteer work to help others?
If you agree with the statement Education for Liberation SAIH might be the perfect place for you then! SAIH-Tromsø is very social group who meets and discuss the different campaigns and what to do next. You will be engaged in work that the newspapers rarely cover and you will help other students worldwide fighting for their rights.

After meeting Inga Marie and e-mailing with Cassandra it is hard not to sign up for this organization. What they do is an important step for getting people out of poverty – and it is a fight they cannot fight alone!

You can find SAIH on Facebook or e-mail


  • The SAIH started in 1961.
  • It is a political independent organization.
  • The contribution started being 5 NOK – in 2017 the contribution is set to be 40 NOK at most universities.
  • The amount to donate is decided by the parliament of each University.
  • In 2016 SAIH received 13 millions NOK through money donations.
  • SAIH supports 40 other organizations in 8 countries.