Towards a strong and caring Finland – at the expense of students

On Friday 16.6. published government program seems to care strongly only about the well-off, and once again ignore the promises made in the parliamentary elections about “special protection for education.” The student Union JAMKO pondered the government’s program over the weekend, and it has left very a bitter taste.

The number of students in higher education will be increased, but the government program does not mention a single word that higher education funding would be increased. On the contrary, higher education funding will be cut over the next four years. This is justified by the government, among other things, by the fact that the tuition fees for students from outside the EU and ETA countries are increased, the fees for the open education offer are increased and the internship fees have been transferred to the state to be paid instead of the UASs

“The government program states that the success of our nation depends on how our young people do. It is an extremely important consideration, but from the students’ point of view, the investments made in young people will run like water off a duck’s back, if these good intentions are forgotten when the young person steps onto the path to higher education. In that regard, the future does not look bright”, sums up JAMKO’s board chairperson Lauri Kujala.

The lack of resources in guidance, teaching and support services greatly weakens the ability to study and the quality of education. When fundamentally unwell young people are pushed into the higher education system and quickly squeezed out, not only the students lose, but also the higher education institutions and the state itself. An already exhausted workforce with inadequate skills enters the working life, when the payment received from a graduated student plays an increasingly important role in the financing of the higher education institution.

The government’s program does not take into account the diversity of students or lifting students above the poverty line. Adult education support will be abolished and first-timers are wanted in higher education so that money is not wasted on people re-educating. The students are equated directly to first-timers coming from the second degree, and those who for one reason or another have to retrain despite already having one degree are forgotten. What happens to lifelong learning and high-quality, Finnish education and know-how when the state pushes young people looking for their own way to train in a field that is ultimately not their own or one where they can work? The student Union JAMKO fears that soon the universities will be full of unmotivated, hopeless first-timers who will clog up the education system and, in the worst case, use up their study support month by staying in the university’s wheels for years.

A solution to this could be, for example, that the first-time student quota be reduced and the sanctions resulting from not accepting a university place be changed. An alternative could be, for example, general education university studies or a few basic courses in different fields, which can be included in the future degree. After this, the applicant would be entitled to, for example, unemployment allowance. In an ideal situation, the applicant would find his own field through this and be able to complete studies at an open university and apply for the education of his choice in a joint application.

The housing benefit will be cut and a new affordable, one might say cheaper version for students will be planned for it, which would encourage community living. “The government program mentions that every Finn has the right to their own home, but it doesn’t seem to apply to students living in rented accommodation, who can live just fine like herrings in salt,” smirks Kujala. Again, the diversity of students, families and older students are also forgotten here.

Now is still time to turn the sled in the right direction and reconsider whether special education protection means special cuts from education or investment in education and students.

Lauri Kujala
The chairperson of board of JAMKO

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