Headlines stolen from Svalbardposten for the week of Jan. 13

Svalbardposten cover, Jan. 16, 2015

UNIS wants ‘doubling’ plan hastened due to Store Norske 
The University Centre in Svalbard is hoping to drastically accelerate plans to double its students and staff in the wake of the Store Norske crisis, telling the Norwegian central government the university is ready to play a bigger community role in Longyearbyen.  “UNIS is here because the institution has a socially beneficial strategy,” UNIS Administrative Director Ole Arve Misund said. UNIS had approved a plan to double in size during the next 20 years, but is now asking the government to support and provide funds allowing the expansion within a few years. The expansion would include more courses, speeding up the development of Svalbard Research park and building about 160 new student housing units.

Apartments, cabins renting for 20K during solar eclipse  
A rate of 20,000 kroner a night and mandatory multi-day stays are the current standard among Longyearbyen residents offering their homes and cabins for rent during the March 20 solar eclipse. “When demand is so great, I think people are willing to pay whatever,” said Paal Lund, who is requiring a five-night stay at his Elvesletta apartment. Many of the vacant rooms are being advertised at the airbnb.no website, but Spitsbergen Travel is also offering 25 rooms at Spitsbergen Guesthouse – at 20,000 kroner per-person, double occupancy, with a four-night minimum – after a large group cancelled some of its reserved rooms there.

New Conservative leader will try to take over city council
A new leader of Svalbard Conservatives will attempt to wrestle control of the Longyearbyen Community Council away from the Labor Party during this fall’s municipal election. “We need a targeted and realistic industrial policy,” said Kjetil Figenschou, 28, a supervisor at Store Norske’s mine at Svea. “And it is urgent.” While he will lead the party’s effort to control the council, Figenschou said he does not expect to be the party’s top-ranked candidate in the election.