The mandate period of the 2016 board is almost finished, and I don’t think it’s too much of a stretch at this point to attempt a summary of the year.
2016 has been the year when the education cuts were implemented in practice. In spring, the most heatedly debated topic from our perspective was the student financial aid, which the Government cut by approximately a quarter. The universities struggled with the implementation of the cuts to their funding, while at the same time investigating new models of cooperation as part of the broader structural development of the field of higher education. As the social welfare and health care reform progresses, SYL has worked hard to secure the future operational preconditions for student health care services and the FSHS.
But even in these challenging times, we have achieved many a great thing. For the students in the most vulnerable position after the student aid cuts, the circumstances are somewhat relieved by the decision during the budget negotiations in August to move students from receiving a student aid housing supplement to the general housing benefit, starting next year. SYL’s initiative and the work of our social policy sector was of great importance for this decision. Another example is that, although we are still waiting for a definitive answer on the most important political stands on the continuation of the FSHS, all Government parties have together expressed their will to keep the FSHS and to expand it to encompass also students at universities of applied sciences. This is no small achievement.
This year has also been a year of renewal and defining the future course of SYL. In spring, Eero Manninen was appointed SYL’s new Secretary General, and Eero has settled in well since starting in the position. Our policy paper, entirely updated during the year, was passed at the General Assembly, where one could strongly feel a unified student movement. One new thematic highlight of this policy paper, in comparison to earlier ones, is intergenerational justice and the role of SYL as a voice of the young generation. Worth to mention is also that in 2016 SYL took the initiative to found the association Sivistyskiihdyttämö. In the autumn of 2017, for the first time, the association will organise a large international learning event in celebration of the centenary of Finland’s independence.
It has been a great honour and pleasure to work with the excellent SYL crew this year. Knowledgeable secretaries, a dedicated board, active student unions, and a stable and broad network of alumnae makes SYL the extraordinarily vital voice of students that SYL really is.
At this stage, I guess I can already thank you for the past year and wish you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!
SYL President 2016
P.S When the year changes, president-elect Riina Lumme (TYY) and board will continue the work.