Bulletin 27 March

For immediate publication

Between 25 February and 24 March 2019, university students made telephone calls to gather responses from candidates in the 2019 general election. They were seeking answers to questions related to university funding, students and climate change. The calls were supplemented by an electronic questionnaire which the candidates could answer if they could not be reached by phone. Student unions in all electoral districts participated in the joint election campaign telephone survey by the National Union of University Students in Finland (SYL) and the Union of Students in Finnish Universities of Applied Sciences (SAMOK).

A total of 656 candidates were reached by calls, or 38 percent of the current candidates nominated by the parliamentary parties. Only 34 of current members of parliament responded, or around a fifth of all candidates seeking re-election.

Those responding on behalf of the Centre Party, National Coalition Party, SDP, Green Party and Left Alliance represent over 40 percent of the parties’ candidates. The share of Christian Democrats was 37%, that of the Finns Party 26% and that of the Swedish People’s Party 23%.

The highest percentage of responses were gathered from candidates in Savo-Karjala (68%) and Pirkanmaa (58%). The smallest percentage of responses were from the electoral districts of Häme (18%), Kaakkois-Suomi (15%) and Lappi (15%).

“The responses we received look promising for students and education. We hope that the attitudes expressed during the calls are realised in the Government Programme,” says Sanni Lehtinen, President of the SYL.

“It’s great that we received almost 700 responses to the calls. In addition, we sent all 19 parties registered for the elections a questionnaire on the student movement’s priorities for the Government Programme. The results of the telephone survey and more detailed outcomes per electoral district will be released later,” adds Iiris Hynönen, President of SAMOK.

The parties’ responses

During the telephone survey, the candidates were asked the following five questions:

Do you think that all tuition for basic degrees should be free of charge?
Do you think that basic funding for universities should be increased?
Do you support a 100 euro increase in the study grant?
Do you think that students should be included in the overall social security reform?
Do you think that tax and subsidies should be changed to strongly promote a reduction in emissions?

Most of the respondents answered yes to all five questions. The basic funding of university education and inclusion of students in the overall social security reform gained the widest support, at 91 percent. 80 percent of the respondents were in favour of a one hundred euro rise in the study grant. 88% of the respondents agreed with the statement that tuition leading to a basic degree should be free of charge. 87% of the respondents believed that tax and subsidies should be changed to strongly promote a reduction in emissions.

An increase in basic university funding was unanimously supported by all 34 of the current members of parliament who responded. The idea of raising the study grant received slightly less support than amongst the respondents in general.

To the question of whether university education should be free of charge, 5 of the current MPs specified that it should be free for Finns only.

Responses by party

Parties’ responses: if the respondent did not answer yes or no, the answer was interpreted as a no in the survey results.

The Left Alliance, Greens, Swedish People’s Party and SDP candidates were most in agreement with the student movement.

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