SYL: Universities fail to protect the interests of applicants

Statement

Free for publication 30.4.2020 06:00

Today and yesterday, universities announced their decisions on the arrangement of new admissions this spring. Their announcements indicate that, for many subjects and universities, selection based on school certificates will rise as high as over 70%. SYL is disappointed by the universities’ decisions in favor of such a significant increase in the share of students selected in this way.

Placing so much more emphasis on school certificates is problematic in terms of protecting the rights of, and equality between, applicants. The grounds given for this emphasis include fewer applicants taking part in entrance examinations. Large-scale remote entrance examinations, involving thousands of applicants, are being organized in any case. In addition, the emphasis on school certificates was not increased in some subjects with large numbers of applicants, such as law school.

“We expected universities to demonstrate much more understanding of the difficult situation and distress of applicants. We would have thought that equal opportunities for university applicants would be higher on the list of priorities,” says Tapio Hautamäki, President of the National Union of University Students in Finland.

The main problem with selection by school certificate is that not all applicants interested in university studies can apply in this way. For example, selection based on school certificates does not currently take account of vocational school certificates. As the quota for places subject to entrance examinations decreases, the number of applicants per place might grow higher than before. There is a risk that equality between applicants will markedly decrease in relation to their opportunity to secure a place via entrance examinations.

“It is irresponsible to take such radical decisions in the middle of the selection process. Many applicants have counted on admission via the entrance examination and prepared accordingly, but the quota is now lower. Changing the rules mid-process is hardly fair for applicants,” says Paula Karhunen, member of the Board of SYL.

For years, applicants have been required to adapt to a series of changes, such as quotas for first-time applicants and selection based on school certificates. On this occasion, when the system should have been flexible on behalf of the applicants, the universities came only half way.

 

Further information:

Paula Karhunen

Member of the Board of SYL

paula.karhunen@syl.fi

+358 (0)44 906 5001

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