The Finnish Student Health Service FSHS announced at the end of October that during the rest of the year there will be changes at the FSHS Service Units. One of these changes concerns the transfer of the general and mental health services of FSHS in Porvoo to FSHS’s own Service Unit in Helsinki Töölö. The change concerns students studying at the Porvoo campus of Haaga-Helia and Laurea University of Applied Sciences, where approximately 3,100 students study. In addition, for students of Laurea University of Applied Sciences, the transfer of the Service Units also applies to those studying in Hyvinkää and Lohja. The Student Union of Haaga-Helia – Helga and the Student Union of Laurea University of Applied Sciences are very disappointed with this decision.
Transferring the services will have the worst impact on UAS students who live in the localities in question, such as students living in Porvoo, who will have to travel to Helsinki in the future to receive local services through FSHS. This change affects students on many levels, including financially. Koivisto Auto’s public transport between Porvoo and Helsinki costs 20 € round trip for an adult, and student-priced tickets are not even available. According to KELA’s accessibility criteria, the price of a travel ticket between the educational institution and the nearest Service Unit must not exceed around 9 € one way. Therefore, the changes concerning Service Units are in the gray area when interpreting KELA’s accessibility criteria. It is not possible to use FSHS’ local services if traveling is too expensive. In addition, traveling between Porvoo and Helsinki takes time.
In order to perform well in studies and graduate on time, students must be able to participate in studies, and traveling to another location in the middle of the weekday makes it difficult to succeed in studies. Many students also work alongside their studies in order to support themselves, in which case traveling can complicate the financial situation.
There have been shortcomings in communicating issues to the student unions ever since UAS students have been covered by FSHS services, and we demand that the corrections shall be made now. The student unions in the area have not been informed in advance about the significant changes in FSHS’ operations and service network, but some of the student unions have heard about the changes from among the students. In order for the student union to be able to carry out its statutory [(1326/2010) § 17, (695/2019)] duties, the student union must be aware of planned changes to, for example, FSHS’s service network or service selection.
We have met with the Regional Director of FSHS’s Southern Service Region and expressed our concerns about the transfer of services and our disappointment in FSHS’s communication to student organizations. FSHS has justified its decision by the fact that the use of FSHS subcontracted services has been low in relation to the number of students and students have mainly used the services of other FSHS Service Units. In addition, in the case of subcontracted services, biddings have had to be held, which have not produced the desired result.
The Student Unions Helga and Laureamko see that this change is a clear issue to students living in the framework municipalities of the capital region, such as those studying in Porvoo. In addition, the students who need FSHS’s general and mental health services for a longer time and repeatedly, and now have to apply for them in Helsinki, are a big concern. We understand FSHS’s challenges with subcontracted services, but we see more disadvantages than benefits in centralizing services.
The students truly need the local services of FSHS, which is why we demand their active return to the framework municipalities of the capital region as soon as it is possible.
On behalf of Laureamko, The Student Union of Laurea University of Applied Sciences,
On behalf of Helga, The Student Union of Haaga-Helia University of Applied Sciences,