Student Unions of the Metropolitan Area´s University of Applied Sciences are disappointed with the proposals published by the Ministry of Finance on 14 August 2020, which would weaken the support for education with study support and adult education support. As employment measures, the Ministry of Finance has proposed cuts and reductions in student support months for studying unemployment benefits and adult education support.
According to the proposal, Adult education support is to be reformed in a way that ensures that it is better targeted, for example by moving to loan-based support. If no credible solution is found to the current weak targeting, adult education support will be abolished and the main benefits of adult learning will be voluntary study with unemployment benefits and study support. Adult education support will not accrue pension rights in the future.
The Student Unions see this as problematic, as supporting education and enabling people to be educated in different life situations is the best way to improve employment. Colleges are prepared to develop lifelong learning and ensure education regardless of age and life situation. The proposal of the Ministry of Finance does not support this development. The transfer of adult education support to loan-based support is already accumulating loan-oriented study support. This action does not encourage further training and the development of working life skills.
The Ministry of Finance is also proposing that voluntary learning be developed by strengthening guidance from an employment policy perspective in an appropriate way. The intention is that voluntary study will be targeted at studies that support employment, as well as at the unemployed who will benefit most from these studies. This means delimiting the fields of study. The possibility to study freely in adulthood, for example with a study grant, will be maintained in accordance with the current study grant provisions.
According to the Ministry of Finance, work during studies will be supported by raising the income limits for study grants, and in order to prevent a slowdown in studies, the support monthly credit requirement will be tightened so that the support months are sufficient to complete in the target time. The term of the student loan credit is harmonized with the target period.
The Student Unions see that tightening the support months is not a way to support completion in the target time. Instead, investing in guidance and improving the criteria for competence in education, for example, developing the credentials of previous competences, could increase graduation efficiency in the target time. Cutting out of support months weakens an already weak student’s social security. In addition, limiting support months would make more and more students financially dependent on jobs or income support and thus make it more difficult for them to progress within the target time.
Student Unions demands that the Finnish government better understand the importance of studying and training than the Ministry of Finance and not take these weaknesses in study conditions presented as employment measures forward. Raising the income limits for study grants is in itself a worthwhile proposition. Education and training should still be made increasingly accessible and offer benefits that strengthen it.
This statement has been prepared by:
The Student Union of Metropolia University of Applied Sciences METKA
The Student Union of Haaga-Helia – Helga
The Student Union of Laurea University of Applied Sciences Laureamko
Arcada Student Union – ASK
The Student Union of Humak University of Applied Sciences HUMAKO
The Student Union of Diaconia University of Applied Sciences O’Diako
President of the Board of Laureamko