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 Swedish People’s Party (SFP).
If fulfilled, the goals listed in SFP’s election manifesto mean improvements for student income. However, the manifesto’s objectives and measures for improving the adult education level leave a lot to be desired.
SFP recognises the importance of better student income, but there are also shortcomings
SFP earns a lot of praise with its proposals for improving student income. The party wants to both raise the amount of student financial aid and increase the number of months that student financial aid is available, which is great! A general increase in student financial aid and ensuring its sufficiency in terms of available months of financial aid will contribute to the mental health of students and their study progress. SFP also supports abolishing the division of student financial aid into Bachelor’s and Master’s stages. This is a smart goal, since studies show that two-tier student financial aid does not accelerate graduation. Instead, it can become a bottleneck of study progress for many students. The proposal of providing free-of-charge psychotherapist training is also a good initiative, as it would help to alleviate the shortage of therapists.
All of the income goals proposed by the party are not feasible, so we have to criticise SFP for proposing to increase student earnings limits. The earnings limits are at the Nordic level already, so they are sufficiently high. Increasing them would be costly for the national economy. Raising earnings limits is an unfavourable solution for students, who are already forced to work while studying to guarantee their livelihood. This slows down the improvement of the adult education level and can result in the increase of mental health problems.
SFP defends free education, but is unwilling to increase the number of starting places
We praise SFP for standing up for free university education and predictable basic funding. As the debate over higher education tuition fees intensifies, it is important that the party takes a clear stance in favour of free higher education in its election manifesto. Predictable funding is important for the wellbeing of students, as it can guarantee that high-quality, accessible supervision and support services are available for everyone.
However, criticism is due as measures for bettering the adult education level, such as adding more starting places and raising the level of basic funding to correspond to the number of students, are conspicuous in their absence in the party’s election manifesto. In public, the party has expressed concern over the decreased adult education level, but their election manifesto leaves room for improvement in including actual measures for its improvement. It is important to improve the adult education level so that we can guarantee study places for more applicants and react to the need for expertise in the labour market.
Promoting internationalisation and student exchange
SFP wants to expand student exchange programs in the Nordic countries – good on them! However, we find that being content with increasing study exchange programs in the Nordic countries is not enough. More extensive structural measures are needed to turn the trend of student mobility upward again.
We agree with the proposal of mutual recognition of university degrees in the Nordic countries, but prefer its promotion across the EU or the entire European Higher Education Area (EHEA). Why be content with the Nordic countries when you can just as easily promote the cause across the European Union?
We are also happy about taking an active role in the European Union. Finland must remain alert and promote its own cause in the forming of EU views. Finland must realise the fact that EU education policy issues are increasingly processed through the EHEA and the European Universities alliances.
Pledges on development cooperation and sustainable development commendable in many respects
SFP has made the commitment to Finland’s zero-carbon status by 2035 and made a pledge to step up development cooperation to achieve the level of 0.7 per cent of GDP. Good ideas! Praise is also due for emphasising human rights and democracy as the foundations of development cooperation policy. The SFP election manifesto in general has several entries that promote sustainable development, in terms of ecological, social and financial sustainability alike. However, we see a need for clearer pledges to halt the loss of biodiversity and set schedules for the achievement of targets in general, as has been done with the goal of carbon neutrality.
- Offering an increase of income limits as a remedy for students’ financial challenges
- The goals for improving adult education levels are nowhere to be found
- No mention of additional funding for education or ensuring free higher education
- Seeks to improve student income
- Continued free university education
- Promotion of international student mobility
044 906 5004