The National Union of University Students in Finland (SYL), the National Union of Students in Finnish Universities of Applied Sciences (SAMOK) and political student organisations demand that the parties, the government and the Social Security Committee pay attention to the problems related to student financial aid and the deteriorating financial situation of students all across Finland. Inflation eats away at students’ livelihoods; the interest rates of student loans are on the rise; and the problems with student financial aid that have accumulated over the years are beginning to escalate.
Students’ livelihoods are deteriorating faster than in decades. The increases in the cost of living are taking their toll on students’ wallets, and the rising interest rates are increasing the price of taking out student loans before the students have even finished their degrees. This is a double whammy to students, and the promised increase in line with the cost of living index is not enough to fix the situation.
Over the years, the problems with student financial aid have piled up. Since 2017, the purchasing power of student financial aid has decreased with roughly 100 euros, that is, by 11 per cent. At the same time, the amount of student loans taken out has more than doubled. The act on student financial aid was approved in 1994, with dozens of amendments. As a result, the system has become complicated and in its current state does not provide students with a sufficiently stable livelihood during their studies. Since 2014, the Parliament has called for a comprehensive reform of student financial aid in its statements. However, the subject has already been ignored by three subsequent governments.
We in the student organisations all believe that the student financial aid system must be reformed, simplified and changed to better enable full-time studies regardless of the student’s personal situation. Students’ voice must be heard in the social security reform, and the deep-rooted problems with the current student financial aid system must be resolved. At present, students’ livelihood is a complex, bureaucracy-ridden and uncertain system that causes many students significant and completely unnecessary stress and anxiety.
Worries about low or insufficient income significantly affects students’ mental well-being. We cannot solve the mental health crisis without addressing its underlying causes. The national goal of 50 per cent of each age group to receive higher education cannot become reality unless the student financial aid system enables and encourages each and every potential student to complete a degree in higher education, regardless of their background and the resources available to them.
During this election season, the government has already saved a considerable number of companies, Finnish pensioners and Fortum from the clutches of the coronavirus pandemic and inflation. The foundations of the students’ livelihoods are crumbling, and there is no time to waste. Students’ livelihoods must be saved.
National Union of University Students in Finland
National Union of Students in Finnish Universities of Applied Sciences
Jami Haavisto & Peppi Seppälä
The Federation of Green Youth and Students
Left Students of Finland
Social democratic students
Centre Students Finland
Student Union of National Coalition Party
Swedish Youth of Finland
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