Education is the best coronavirus stimulus. This is why in the upcoming mid-term review, the Government needs to seriously try to solve the challenges faced by higher education students and remedy the gap in university core funding.
SYL has repeatedly stressed that higher education is the best target for construction from a coronavirus stimulus perspective. And I don’t mean that Finland should build more physical university buildings, but that now is the right moment to invest in education. The cuts to university funding over the past ten years have made a crack in the university foundations that still has not been fixed. So far, the Government’s “funding builders” have been operating with rolls of tape, even though what we need is a cartful of strong constructional cement.
This Government has certainly invested in education (thank you for that!), but the problem lies with the level of the investments. For example, tying university funding back to the index was an excellent decision, but it should not be seen as an investment, since the point of the index is merely to make normal activities possible. Each of the last year’s new available student places was allocated 6,000 euro, which is relatively far too little to make quality education possible. Universities have estimated that in order to be sustainable, funding for every available student place has to be at least 10,000 euro. Increasing the amount of discretionary government transfers is both an uncertain and unpredictable method to bridge the gap in funding. Increasing the core funding by forty million euro was mainly half a life preserver thrown at the drowning university institution.
The Constitutional Law Committee has stated that the state is responsible for the resources required by universities to take care of their statutory duties, and that the state’s funding responsibility has to take the form of core funding for universities. However, if you listen closely, you can hear the entire university sector shouting that the level of core funding is not high enough. That raises a question: have the Government’s “funding builders” gone deaf on the construction site, or are they just missing their tools?
If the tools have been lost, don’t worry, we students have the solution!
SYL’s handy repair kit for education has the right tools also for this situation. One functioning tool to cover the increased permanent resource needs caused by new available student places and new duties, such as continuous learning and developing platform-based education, is raising the annual university appropriation by at least one hundred million euro.
Nothing left but to roll up the sleeves and get to work! I recommend that you familiarise yourself with the other tools in SYL’s repair kit: SYL’s objectives for the mid-term review.