1) Some improvements to students social security
Even though the Government Programme promises to develop the student’s social security, it is quite unfortunate that, despite the promises of many parties, the student allowance didn’t get much needed overall increase. However, raising the student allowance for students with children is an excellent improvement for the social security of many student families. Also, returning a study allowance to an index will improve the situation in the long run, because it means that the support will automatically increase as the overall price level increases.
The rest of the Government’s policy on students social security is more ambiguous. It gives hope, that the Government promises to look into student benefits as part of the overall reform of social security, although there is no detailed information on the reform and its scope. The Programme also promises to investigate the problems of interpreting the rules of housing benefits in the case of students living with roommates. This is important because the current system too often punishes students for living together.
2) More resources to education
The Government Programme promises higher funding for universities! This is excellent news, even though a most of the new funding doesn’t go to polytechnic universities. At the same time, the funding is returned to index, which is an important improvement, especially in the long run. Despite these additional efforts, funding for higher education remains well below the level of early 2010s, especially if we take into account the future increase in number of places available at universities as outlined in the Government Programme.
3) The status of international students will improve
The most significant relief for international students concerns residence permits. In line with the student movements goals, the international student will in the future get a residence permit for the duration of their degree, which greatly simplifies the system. At the same time, the residence permit is extended to cover two years after graduation, so that the student has the time to find work in Finland if they so wish.
The Government Programme also says that the effects of tuition fees for students from outside the EU and EEA countries will be further investigated. This was a bit disappointing because we wanted a more rigorous stance against tuition fees. In the coming years the student movement has to work hard to ensure equal treatment for all international students.
4) New focus on accessibility
The new Government Program emphasizes improving access to higher education, which has also been a long-term goal for Laureamko and, more broadly, for the student movement. We hope that the planned Higher Education Accessibility Program will be able to locate the challenges in our system and find feasible solutions to them.
Efforts to improve accessibility are also seen on a practical level in the Programme. Among others is a promise to keep the education leading to the degree free. This is very important politically, as the debate on tuition fees has been worrying for students in recent years. At the same time, the new government also promises to increase the number of different routes to higher education and to develop lifelong learning so that everyone has a an opportunity to acquire the skills they need.
Read the whole Goverment Programme here: https://valtioneuvosto.fi/en/rinne/government-programme