Government plans raise concerns

The University and the entire academic community will soon know more about the future of university funding and student financial aid, following the Finnish Government’s spending limits discussion on 21 March. Related to this, students will stage a mass demonstration on Wednesday.

Government plans raise concerns

Students at the 2010 demonstration in favour of free education

Students are anything but pleased. Based on preliminary information from the country’s leadership, the present student financial aid scheme will come under threat at the Government’s 21 March discussion. The proposals made include various heavily loan-based support models and new restrictions to the maximum duration of aid.

“We’re dealing with the largest change to student financial aid since the scheme was created in the 1990s,” says Tiina Parkkinen, member of the Board of the University of Helsinki Student Union.

Student organisations find it problematic that students seem to be bearing the brunt of the Government’s planned measures for extending careers.

“Sticks will hardly speed up graduation,” says Parkkinen and encourages all students to participate in the 20 March demonstration to protest against the planned deteriorations in student financial aid. The national student demonstration will assemble at 13.00 on Senate Square.

What about the university index?

The Government’s actions are watched closely not only by students but also by the leadership of universities. The university index defined in the Universities Act was halved in 2012 and frozen in 2013, even though it was originally supposed to raise government funding to universities in line with the level of costs.

In late February, the University of Helsinki offered its perspective on university funding in a letter sent to the Minister of Education. It pointed out that cost-cutting measures targeting education and research have seriously hurt the University’s international competitiveness. Among other things, the University of Helsinki has reduced the amount of teaching offered and made cuts to facilities, equipment investments and textbook acquisitions.

Further information about the Students Union’s actions against the planned reforms »»

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Text: Elina Mattila-Niemi
Photo: HYY
Translation: Language Services/Language Centre, University of Helsinki
University of Helsinki, digital communications

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