The student unions of the University of Helsinki (HYY) and Aalto University (AYY) are appalled at the new government’s programme, which was made public 27 May, and the brazenly betrayed promises it contains. Cuts of several hundreds of millions of euros to education and a 150 million euro cutback in study grants will undermine the quality of Finnish education and, only to add insult to injury, impair students’ already scarce welfare.
In addition to massive cuts to education, the government programme’s addenda state that student housing should be excluded from the investment subsidies that are granted to special-needs groups by The Housing Finance and Development Centre of Finland ARA. The subsidies have been the lifeline for the construction of moderately priced student housing. Without them many housing projects will now be shelved, and the costs of projects that will be carried out will only increase – and the living costs of students will only soar.
Student’s welfare, i.e. study grant, does not even come close to cover the apartment rents on the private market. The new government programme will now push rent prices definitively out of reach for students. If new housing construction projects are denied investment subsidies, rents will rise to an intolerable level.
The planned cutbacks will hit particularly hard students in the capital region where the lack of moderately priced homes is most prominent, and housing expenses are the highest in the country. Excluding student housing from public investment subsidies will only work to accentuate the regional inequality of students’ welfare in Finland.
– It’s unbelievable that the government wants to cut down study grants and at the same time increase living costs when it’s a well-known fact that lack of income and sustenance are detrimental to study progress and only delay graduation, says AYY’s Chair of the Board Niko Ferm dismayed.
Currently students who live alone have to spend 72.4 per cent in average of their income on rent. Making cutbacks in study grants and increasing housing expenses will effectively make living and studying in the capital region unbearably expensive. Higher education will become a privilege only for the wealthy and will exclude everyone who cannot afford it.
– It’s downright dishonest and abrasive to suggest that making cuts to education, science and student welfare would make Finland the most competent nation in the world or improve the quality of Finnish education, asserts HYY Chair of the Board Mari Kyllönen.
Mari Kyllönen, HYY Chair of the Board
tel. +358 50 543 9610
Niko Ferm, AYY Chair of the Board
tel. +358 50 520 9420