SYL: Including students in the housing benefit a step in the right direction

Statement, for immediate release 1.9.2016

The National Union of University Students in Finland (SYL) would like to extend our thanks to the Government for the decision to include students in the general housing benefit system. This move means that the scant support available for housing is directed at those who need it the most. Applying for the benefit must not be complicated by the transfer of students from the housing allowance tied to student financial aid to the general housing benefit. In the longer run, SYL wants to see an individual and simple system for housing support.

“Including students in the same system as everyone else who receive housing benefits is one step in the right direction. The entire Government deserves recognition for this. We at SYL, as well as the university student unions, are more than happy to help implement the change. It is important that it is easy for students to apply for the benefit. The benefit system also needs to acknowledge the distinctive characteristics of student life, such as fluctuating incomes and different living arrangements,” says SYL President Heikki Koponen.

However, SYL worries about the financial situation for students with children after the cuts to student financial aid and the transfer of students to the general housing benefit. The finances of student families suffer not only from the cuts to the study grant, but also from the negative impact that the increase in student loan has on income support. Including students in the general housing benefit and the changes to the conditions for granting support following that change will cause a loss of some tens of euros monthly in support for housing expenses. SYL hopes that the Government will take action to improve the financial plight of students with children before it is too late.

“Already last decade, the Ministry of Education and Culture proposed to take action to improve the financial situation for student families. We want to see concrete measures taken. That it has been made financially almost impossible to have children while studying is extremely unfortunate for gender equality in both education and in working life as well as from the perspective of Finnish family policy,” underlines Koponen.

Contact details:

President Heikki Koponen, +358 44 906 5007, firstname.lastname@syl.fi

Social Policy Officer Silja Silvasti, +358 44 515 2233, firstname.lastname@syl.fi