Nearly 4,500 students responded to a survey on the Finnish Student Health Service: students want better access to health services and chat appointments sooner

The National Union of University Students in Finland (SYL) and the National Union of Students in Finnish Universities of Applied Sciences (SAMOK) conducted a survey among university students on the activities of the Finnish Student Health Service (FSHS) and the health care fee for university students. The survey was conducted from 3 to 22 May 2023, and 4,462 students from different universities and universities of applied sciences responded. The questionnaire was available in Finnish, Swedish and English. 92% of the respondents answered in Finnish.

Half of the respondents did not feel that they get value for money for the health care fee. At the same time, almost 65 per cent of respondents said they would be prepared to pay more if FSHS services were available faster. The health care fees paid by students cover 23 per cent of the FSHS budget each year. The remainder is covered by the state budget. The annual health care fee is between 70 and 80 euro per student.

When describing their experience of making an appointment, students particularly highlighted the congestion of chat appointments. “From a human resources point of view, chat is very demanding compared to phone calls, and so this is a tricky problem. Fortunately, the FSHS now has a wide range of good forms if students don’t want to call. Students as a demographic like chat services, so it would be good to take this into account,” says SYL board member Sonja Naalisvaara.

Almost 50 per cent of respondents felt that being forced to wait at different stages of the care chain had a negative impact on their health. An open question on the smoothness of care, waiting times and treatment pathways was answered by 2,280 of the respondents.

“Preventing the most serious health problems requires that help is readily available, and without having to wait too long. The open-ended responses to the survey highlighted students’ frustration with long queues. Increasing core funding could improve access to services and prevent the current problems from worsening,” adds SAMOK board member Halla Kokkonen.

FSHS funding does not match students’ service needs. Funding is based on the level of demand for services in 2019, although demand in spring 2023 was still around 30 per cent higher than that. Students are able to access care within the timeframe required by the treatment time guarantee, but FSHS resource shortages are lengthening internal waiting lists for students.

Oral health services are part of the FSHS health services, and as a population group, common oral health problems for students include symptoms related to wisdom teeth or grinding of the teeth. Three out of four students who had used FSHS services had used the oral health services. Among students who had not used FSHS services at all (12.6 per cent), one-third said the reason was that they doubted that they would receive any service.

“Students had a positive view of the FSHS staff and their skills in many different aspects that were covered by the survey. However, the open-ended questions also reveal students’ frustration with internal queues, which have plagued the FSHS since the COVID-19 pandemic,” Naalisvaara says.

With sufficient core funding, it would be possible to improve access to FSHS services in line with students’ wishes. In the run-up to the April 2023 parliamentary elections, all parliamentary parties in a party survey concerning university students supported strengthening the funding of FSHS to meet the increased need for mental health services in the next government term. SYL and SAMOK will continue to lobby for adequate resources for FSHS.

More information:

Sonja Naalisvaara, member of the board (primary contact about the content of the survey)
The National Union of University Students in Finland (SYL)
+358 44 906 5003

Halla Kokkonen, member of the board
National Union of Students in Finnish Universities of Applied Sciences (SAMOK)
+358 50 389 1002

In connection with the survey, a prize draw was held for two Lidl gift cards worth €20 each. The draw was held on 25 May and the winners have received the prizes.

Representing 14 member organisations and 140,000 higher education students, the National Union of University Students in Finland (SYL) is the country’s largest university student advocacy organisation. The National Union of Students in Finnish Universities of Applied Sciences (SAMOK) is a national student organisation that represents all students at universities of applied sciences and advocates for their interests.

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