Today, 19 October, is The Day for Free Education, celebrated annually by students in Finland. Unfortunately, not all of us have cause for celebration. Free education is not yet available for everyone, so once again, we stand up for equality, solidarity, and Finland’s future.
The Orpo government is planning an increase in tuition fees for students outside EU and EEA countries, as a result of which the number of applicants will probably plummet. Previously, however, international students were hoped to add to the workforce in Finland and to alleviate the country’s ageing population structure. Charging full tuition fees will crumble Finland’s internationalisation goals and the entire Finnish education system and weaken prospects in general for the country.
The government will not have the money to raise education to the planned level. On the contrary, education expenses will rise, with international students footing the bill. International students will choose some other country instead. The government does not seem to understand what measures must be taken in Finland to adjust the population structure. Up to 90 per cent of international students could stay in Finland after graduation (Eurostudent).
Increasingly high tuition fees will probably result in those better prepared to pay for their education – not the most academically gifted ones – coming to Finland. While other countries are competing to get better-off students, Finland could attract the best talent with free education.
Owing to high tuition fees, international students are under constant pressure to make quick progress with their studies, with many of them failing to connect with the rest of the student community. If studies take longer, they also become more expensive, so students are not in a position to learn the language, integrate into the society or go to work. This is not human and may result in the students looking for work elsewhere after graduation.
If integrating into the student community has not happened either, all that is left is cold loneliness and an even colder climate. This is why international students must be greeted with special warmth, a free education. This is the ace we have up our sleeve.