The student mental health crisis was ignored at the Government discussion on spending limits. No cuts to education were made, but that remains a small comfort. Students expected something else entirely from a Government that calls itself education positive.
The result from the prolonged spending limits discussion was a real kick in the teeth for students. Higher education student were once again not mentioned at all during the Government’s press conference. SYL is frustrated with the Government’s inability to respond to students’ worries about insufficient income and the mental health crisis. Even if the future financial framework does not make cuts to education, student income and wellbeing sorely need investments.
“Temporary concessions to student financial aid must be made permanent, because students were already in a difficult situation before corona, and things will remain difficult. There is still a crying need to raise the study grant,” SYL President Annika Nevanpää points out.
The Government threw away the chance to support students in a difficult situation. Insufficient income is, in many aspects, a factor that slows down studies and significantly worsens student wellbeing. Raising the amount of study grant, increasing the number of months covered by the study grant and relaxing the conditions placed on receiving student financial aid would have helped thousands of students in need. A sufficient income is one of the main factors affecting student wellbeing. Investments in student income are expressly investments in student wellbeing.
Student wellbeing is at an all-time low, yet once again, students fall through the cracks of the mental health measures proposed by the Government. The mental health crisis persists and deepens. Implementing a therapy guarantee is estimated to bring 7,500 people back to the workforce per year. This would result in approximately 340 million euro in public savings. Free psychotherapy education was also left on the table, even though there is a shortage of professionals. Kela’s rehabilitation system and support are seeing improvements, but we are still not seeing concrete and acute actions.
Investing in education is excellent and forward-thinking coronavirus stimulus. No investments in education paints a sad picture of Finnish education positivity. The Government had the chance to restore the honour of education and bridge the gap in university funding.
“Apparently, investments in higher education had to give way to the millions in farewell money reserved for an unsustainable energy production mode from a bygone era”, states President Nevanpää.
The Government discussion on spending limits left students empty-handed. We expected more from a Government calling itself education positive. Students deserve better.
For more information, contact:
SYL President Annika Nevanpää
tel. 044 906 5007