The National Union of University Students in Finland’s (SYL) General Assembly: 130,000 university students: where is the appreciation for education?

Statement

17.11.2018

 

We cannot live with our hands in the pockets of future generations. During the past few legislative  periods, this has been the justification used for cuts to social security, development cooperation and  above all education and research. During the past eight years, it has been estimated that up to 1.5 billion euros has been cut from education. In the same period, the student loan portfolio has exceeded three billion euros. We need a better generation policy. A policy which looks after young people and future generation’s opportunities to build their own path and this country. We need a wider understanding throughout society of the fact that by not investing in education, wellbeing and mitigating climate change, we are very much living with our hands in the pockets of future generations.

“The cuts to education and students’ social security have only transferred the national debt to the individual, which is unfair to current and future students. Students need a sufficient income to enable them to study full-time. The sum they need cannot be defined through cuts, but instead their income should be seen as a whole: what should the students’ income pay for?” states SYL’s President Miika Tiainen.

The changes brought in during the past few legislative periods have also had an effect on how higher education is organised. The changes can be seen both in students’ everyday lives and in the teaching.

When savings have to be made on the teaching, the quality of higher education, which is based on research, will suffer. Students have been able to see these changes e.g. through reduced hours of in-person teaching and guidance and an increase in the number of book exams. The changes are caused by, among other things, the fact that the number of university staff has gone down by three thousand since 2011.

We need to bring back the appreciation for Finnish education and research. During the next legislative period, the funding for universities must be corrected so that Finland can meet the global challenges with the help of research data and educated people. Solving these problems requires that young people are guaranteed a sufficient education and academic skills. Access to education should not be determined by a person’s background.

“Teachers do the most important job in the world: they raise critical citizens. Politicians need to change their arrogant attitude towards the carrying force of society,” says SYL’s President for 2019 Sanni Lehtinen. The General Assembly of the National Union of University Students in Finland demands that the next Finnish Government guarantees academic peace through the following measures:

1. Students should be given the opportunity to study full-time through a sufficient level of social security without the individual having to take on debt. The first step would be to increase the study grant by 90 euros per month and then the reform of social security, which also includes students.

2. Stable and sufficient basic funding for education and research is essential. The funding for universities must be increased by reintroducing the university index.

3. The Government Program needs to identify concrete measures to prevent inequalities in education and promote accessibility.

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