Leading up to the parliamentary elections, the National Union of University Students in Finland (SYL) writes blogs about various parties’ election programmes, weighing the pros and cons from students’ viewpoint. Next on our list is the Greens.
In their election manifesto, the Greens are promising and pursuing much-needed initiatives for inclusion in the next government programme. However, students are left wondering whether these promises will be kept or forgotten as the government negotiations begin after the elections.
Security of income safeguards wellbeing and mental health
The Greens deserve a lot of praise for their proposal to improve access to full-time education by increasing the monthly student financial aid by €100. This is a long-awaited and important initiative for improving the security of income for students. The current system of student financial aid is lagging far behind current needs. The amount of student financial aid has fallen behind the national pension index by €163 since the 1990s.
However, one should not forget the 2019 parliamentary elections, when the Greens promised a one-third increase in student financial aid. Will the Greens have the will to fight this time to achieve their goal, or are their goals just empty words?
All the parties are already talking about a therapy guarantee, but the Greens are also pushing for free psychotherapist training – fantastic! This will allow more people to train in the field, improving access to psychotherapy. Investment is also needed in the core funding of the Finnish Student Health Service (FSHS), where demand for mental health services has tripled. Even if the care guarantee becomes reality, reducing internal waiting lists will require an increase in core funding. The Greens must also keep this in mind during the negotiations to form the next government.
Praise for defending free education and raising basic funding
On education policy, we welcome the Greens’ election promise to defend free education, safeguard basic funding and fully fund added study places. The party’s promise to retain the index-based increase for education is also commendable. However, to achieve the 50% higher education attainment level, an annual increase in university funding of around €190 million is needed.
We would also have liked to see a clear election manifesto proposal for the abolition of tuition fees for students from EU and EEA countries, or at least for making them voluntary for higher education institutions to charge. Currently they are compulsory.
Where are the party’s pledges for international students?
Although internationalisation is a prominent theme in the Greens’ election manifesto, the party’s promises to international students are glaringly absent. The party intends to support labour-based migration – and rightly so, but the need for skills described in the manifesto also requires action in support of international students.
We agree that cutting down on red tape regarding international students is a good thing, but we would have liked to see more ambitious pledges in the manifesto. It will take a major effort from Finland to meet the goal set to be achieved by 2030, which is 75 per cent of international students staying and working here after graduation. Access of international students to the labour market in Finland and their integration into Finnish society must be supported both during and after their studies.
We also welcome the party’s pledge to extend European co-operation – human rights, the rule of law and democracy require effective shared international efforts.
Comprehensive and clear sustainability pledges
In setting sustainability goals, the Greens are at their best. The party deserves praise for many of their election pledges in this area, including raising development cooperation funding to 0.7 per cent of GDP, and also for the target of Finland being carbon-neutral by 2035. Hopefully students will also be remembered under this theme, so that we will have the experts needed to solve the sustainability crisis in the future!
- Fine words for students, but will the Greens really stick to their goals?
- No manifesto pledges made for international students
- Raising the education attainment level also requires investment in support services
- €100 general increase in student financial aid
- Free education and full funding of added study places
- Therapy guarantee and free psychotherapist training
044 906 5004