Government’s budget proposal for 2020 is published – students did not get a general increase in the study grant and investments in available student places were not made

Statement
Free to publish

Antti Rinne’s Government raised university funding by EUR 127 million in its first budget session. Universities will receive an extra EUR 40 million and universities of applied sciences EUR 20 million, with an additional EUR 67 million set aside for index increases.

“We are delighted that the newly published draft budget delivered on promises given to increase basic university funding. The real-term increases made to basic funding in accordance with the Government Programme are vital steps in the right direction”, says Sanni Lehtinen, President of SYL.

Students also praise the Government for the provider supplement, and for index-linking student financial aid in order to maintain the current level of financial aid to students.

Students disappointed: no general increase in the study grant

The decision to tie the study grant to the National Pensions Index ensures that the financial standing of future generations of students will remain at least at the current level. However, we are still awaiting real investments to ensure that students do not fall behind other support recipients. Too much was shaved off various components of student financial aid during the last two parliamentary terms.

Before the general election, most of the parties now in Government spoke in favour of a general increase in the study grant. From a student perspective, it is hugely disappointing that this increase did not form part of the Government Programme. It was – and still is – badly needed.

No additions to student places for the time being

The Government has promised a significant rise in the number of student places in higher education. The Ministry of Education and Culture has proposed an increase of at least 5,000 student places, with EUR 40 million earmarked for this purpose, including EUR 24 million for universities.

The Government’s newly published draft budget makes no mention of these increases, or the related resources. It seems that there will at least be no immediate increases in student places. It remains unclear how the Government intends to achieve the much-needed goal of raising Finns’ level of expertise, or clearing the backlog of higher education applicants.

Where are the investments in the platform model or continuous learning?

The objectives of the draft higher education budget include developing flexible study opportunities and open learning environments. These would be important steps towards goals such as platform-based higher education and continuous learning.

However, it seems that these new activities are to be financed by an increase in basic funding. But this investment will not go far. The question is, how will these necessary reforms be implemented without ring-fenced funding?