In only a few weeks, we will be voting in the parliamentary elections. HYY is actively involved in election advocacy work, looking after students’ interests. HYY’s three main election themes for the 2019 elections are funding for education, students’ subsistence and taking concrete action in environmental issues.
‘Resources for universities must be secured for the future, so that future generations would also be able to carry out high-quality research and receive competent teaching. Education must be free for all students and genuinely accessible. Skills of the future are funded now. For this reason, we are also supporting the #ResearchMatters (#SiksiTiede) campaign of the University of Helsinki’, states Member of HYY’s Board Anna Lemström, in charge of election advocacy work.
The social security reform has been promoted in the parliament for a while, and there is a great desire to reform social security comprehensively across party boundaries. An essential part of the reform is how it takes students into account – whether students are seen as the experts of the future or a necessary evil for our nation. Currently, students are outside the reform.
Students have been the biggest losers of economic policy this decade. Students’ subsistence must be secured, and they must be able to focus on their studies full time. In practice, the study grant needs a substantial increase to secure students’ subsistence and reduce the emphasis on loan in student aid. Student loan and work should be options for students, not necessities. At the same time, general housing allowance must be made a personal benefit, with the income of the people you live with not affecting the amount of allowance.
‘Students are a diverse group whose needs do not fit into a single mould. For this reason, basic income would, in the long term, be the model that allows us to respond to different situations in life as broadly as possible. At the same time, sudden changes in students’ situations in life, for instance, would no longer cause dramatic reductions in their subsistence’, Lemström continues.
This year’s parliamentary elections can, for good reason, be considered climate elections. Climate change is one of the greatest global problems of our time, and to solve it, we need to find concrete measures to ensure that the planet is kept habitable for future student generations. HYY demands the cities of the Capital Region to strive to achieve carbon neutrality by 2030 and for both their energy use and urban planning to support this objective.
‘We are drawing up new guidelines for our society in these elections. I hope that these guidelines will steer students towards 2010s in which their years of studying are not expected to be miserable but inspiring and empowering. Towards 2010s in which preparing for the future does not need to mean knowing the location of the nearest breadline but being prepared to find solutions for the climate crisis, for instance’, Lemström concludes.