The National Union of University Students in Finland (SYL) thanks the government for the decisions in the cabinet budget session that benefit students. Many of the decisions were on our wish list and will help students in need. However, SYL finds that the regional student loan compensation trial is a huge misstep on the path towards improving the social security of students.
“From the viewpoint of students, the cabinet budget session did introduce actions to address specific needs, such as those related to the provision of student meals, students with families, and dealing with mental health challenges. All these actions are most welcome. While we did not get everything on our wish list, on the whole, the results are very positive,” says SYL President Konstantin Kouzmitchev.
SYL finds that the proposal to increase the meal allowance for students was a good decision; however, the actual amount should have been more than 25 cents. As compensation, it falls short of the proposed 50 cent increase to the price of student meals taking effect at the beginning of October. Therefore, we are calling for a further increase to the student meal allowance when the budget discussions continue.
The much hoped-for additional funding allocated to the Finnish Student Health Service (FSHS) is important. SYL is nonetheless concerned how the treatment guarantee will put more pressure on the FSHS, which is already struggling. With sufficient funding, the FSHS can rise to the present and future challenges of student health and well-being. On the other hand, the mental health crisis cannot be solved by FSHS alone – actions will need to be taken more widely.
Many other decisions affecting students were also discussed at the cabinet budget session. We appreciate that the budget authority for the Housing Finance and Development Centre to award investment grants to special-needs groups will be increased by EUR 30 million, and we also appreciate the increase of EUR 10 per month proposed for the family provider increment to the study grant for 2023. The decision on the regional student loan compensation trial, on the other hand, puts students in an unequal position. It is taking the development of the student financial aid system in the wrong direction, towards the indebtedness of students.
President, National Union of University Students in Finland (SYL)
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