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Tuition Fees and Scholarship System: A Threat to Student Equality

8.12.2022

In a memo released by the Ministry of Finance on December 8th, it was suggested that universities could improve their funding by introducing tuition fees. Shortly after, Yle reported that university leaders were considering this move. The idea is that tuition fees could help enhance education quality and fill the funding gap needed for improvements. Under this plan, students would fund tuition through loans meant to cover living expenses during studies. However, students already struggle financially, with rising living costs and loan reliance pushing them below the poverty line.

 

Free education is vital for Finnish society, ensuring equal access for all. Yet, there's a concerning trend of viewing students as merely workforce tools, disregarding their inherent value. There's a push to shorten study time, increase credit requirements, and shift student support towards loans, all while student distress grows, living costs soar, and university resources shrink. However, students are the future workforce that Finland relies on, and neglecting their needs now is short-sighted.

 

Student unions ASK, Helga, HUMAKO, Laureamko, and O’Diako highlight that tuition fees from non-EU/EEA students have had minimal impact on university finances or education quality. Introducing tuition fees contradicts the Ministry of Education and Culture's goals to improve education and ease students' transition into the workforce. It's likely that less affluent students would need more gap years to finance their degrees if fees were introduced.

 

The Ministry of Finance acknowledges that tuition fees exacerbate inequality and suggests a scholarship system based on academic performance as an alternative. While this might offer opportunities to talented, less affluent students, it would not benefit the wealthiest. However, it would increase pressure to perform well in school, starting from an early age, undermining the pursuit of equal educational opportunities.

 

Finnish society needs more educated individuals to face future challenges, but tuition fees would hinder this goal. While securing university funding is important, tuition fees are not the answer.

 

On behalf of Arcada Student Union – ASK,

Ida Flemmich

ida(a)asken.fi

 

On behalf of Haaga-Helia University of Applied Sciences Student Union Helga,

Diana Murashkina

diana.murashkina@helga.fi

 

On behalf of HUMAK University of Applied Sciences Student Union HUMAKO,

Sini Riihimäki

sini.riihimaki@humako.net

 

On behalf of Laurea University of Applied Sciences Student Union Laureamko,

Suvi Nieminen

suvi.nieminen@laureamko.fi

 

On behalf of Diakonia University of Applied Sciences Student Union O'Diako,

Halla Kokkonen

puheenjohtaja@odiako.fi

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