A recent survey of over 11,000 Norwegian students found that Equinor was, not the for the first time, the most chosen potential future employer. In an age where the same students can witness, firsthand, the consequences of the fossil fuel industry on climate change, why would they want to work for a company that is part of the problem and not the solution?
Equinor wins student popularity contest
A survey conducted by Universum, with over 11,000 Norwegian students responding, found that Equinor was the favorite potential future employer. The survey asked students where they most wanted a job after graduating and was divided into five different subject areas: economics, engineering, humanities, information technology, and law. Equinor not only topped the list for engineering but also came in the top 3 for finance and I.T, the only company to do so. DNB topped the list for finance, and the police for law whilst a job with the Oslo Municipality was most desired for humanities.
For those young adults that are finishing up their studies, it should really be no surprise that a huge Norwegian company, with a global footprint, that offers great financial security and career growth should be so popular. During the past two decades, the world has seen a number of global crises – ranging from a European economic meltdown to the war raging again in Europe and a worldwide pandemic. Financial security and stability in an uncertain, dynamic, and rapidly changing world (not to mention the economy and job market) must be top of the list when thinking about their careers.
Equinor has business deals with Norwegian universities
This survey follows just a few weeks after Equinor’s financial relationship with many Norwegian universities and colleges was revealed to much criticism and debate. In 2019, Equinor signed agreements with five Norwegian universities – the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU), the University of Oslo (UiO), The Arctic University of Norway (UiT), and the Norwegian Business School (NHH) worth over NOK 315 million. These agreements range from NHH’s NOK 100 million to UiO’s NOK 50 million.
This financial assistance, which Equinor claims is for free and independent scientific research, has caused a huge debate as it emerged that conditions were placed on the universities to speak positively about the oil and gas behemoth in the media under a so-called “Academy Agreement.” Khorno writes UiO’s Sustainability Lab alerted the twittervese by revealing that “Equinor’s funding contracts with Norwegian universities demand that when in contact with the media about the cooperation, the universities must speak positively about it.” When alerted by the media about these conditions, many Universities have responded by saying they were essentially changing the terms of their agreements.
With such large sums of money being pumped into Norwegian universities, could this have impacted the survey? As Equinor’s oil money is a major source of funding for these universities, and the universities up until now essentially banned from any sort of critical analysis of the company, this blurring of big business and education feels wrong.
Does taking Equinor’s money hamper tertiary “green” research?
Though many Norwegian universities and colleges are more than happy to accept generous financial assistance and aid from Equinor, not everyone is happy. A recent op-ed in Uniform, written by six researchers at the UiO, spoke of the discomfort felt by many at taking this “oil money.” They felt that accepting financial assistance from a huge fossil fuel company would hinder rather than help any “green” research.
In the article, the researchers wrote that “The problem is that by accepting funding from oil companies such as Equinor, the University of Oslo is helping to postpone – instead of speeding up – the transition it sees as so urgent. And instead of promoting the university’s important research on sustainable and equitable transition to society and industry based on renewable energy, the university undermines the credibility and impact of this research by accepting funding from Equinor.”
What was even more disturbing is that when contacted by the media, several key figures at universities that accepted the money did not even know that the condition about “positivity in the media” was in the agreement. In other words, Norwegian universities and colleges accepted and signed agreements worth tens of millions of kroner without even reading the fine print.
Who remembers the “Climate Strike?”
In what seems like a million years ago but was actually only 4, a young Swedish girl held a “climate strike” outside the Swedish parliament. Greta Thunberg has since become a worldwide phenomenon and an important environmental activist and fossil fuel iconoclast. Less than a year after her initial protest, Friday “climate strikes” – where students skipped school to protest climate change inaction – soon became common throughout the world, including Norway. The first climate strike since Norway reopened post-COVID was held again in late March.
What is perhaps most surprising about the Universum survey is that many of these students, who want to work at Equinor, more than probably participated in these “climate strikes.” Has the world become so insecure, so unstable that young adults are willing to part with their ideals in order to ensure financial and career stability? One supposes that money does indeed talk and these students are listening intently.
The students surveyed are the future politicians, business leaders, scientists and researchers, the future movers and shakers. For a country that desperately needs to reassess its relationship with fossil fuels as soon as possible, to speed up its transition to a truly “green” economy, this survey makes for depressing reading.
The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Norway Today unless specifically stated.
About the author:
Jonathan is a lover of the written word. He believes the best way to combat this polarization of news and politics, in our time, is by having a balanced view. Both sides of the story are equally important. He also enjoys traveling and live music.
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