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Tuition fees for non-EU/EEA students: what is at stake?


Tuition fees for non-EU/EEA students

Juha Sipilä's Government submitted to the Parliament a bill (HE 77/2015) on tuition fees charged at higher education institutions, which would concern non-EU/EEA students. Tuition fees will apply to lower and higher foreign language degree programmes. Higher education institutions are able to set the amount of tuition fees by themselves but the minimum fee would be EUR 1,500 per academic year. Higher education institutions should have a scholarship system that supports the studies of students participating in the fee-charging degree programmes. The legislation will enter into force on 1 Jan 2016 and higher education institutions must begin to collect the fees no later than 1 Aug 2017.

The University of Helsinki will determine the amount of tuition fees with the Rector's decision in January 2016. It is expected that the amount of tuition fees will range between EUR 10,000 – 20,000, depending on the degree programme. At the same time, the University of Helsinki is creating a marketing machinery and scholarship system in order to introduce compulsory fees in the autumn of 2017.

A university working committee will turn its focus during the winter and the coming spring to plan the practical implementation of the tuition system, i.e. marketing, scholarships, the distribution of the revenue gained from the fees and managing feedback from students.

The beginning of the end for free higher education for all?

Tuition fees will not concern Finnish or EU citizens and, for now, there is no need to be concerned. However, tuition fees for international students can be seen as a first step towards a situation where the Finnish students' wealth will determine who has access to higher education in the future.

HYY and the rest of the student movement oppose the tuition fees. The fees will hardly provide additional funding to the university but rather create additional expenses due to bureaucracy caused by scholarship systems, marketing and payment administration. In addition, tuition fees may significantly reduce the number of talented international students in Finnish higher education institutions. In Sweden, for example, the introduction of tuition fees significantly reduced the number of non-EU/EEA students after 2010.

Free education is a great selling point for Finland and the general trend worldwide is the discontinuation of tuition fees. Germany, for example, has decided to return to free education.

The Student Union does advocacy work together with other student organisations and aims to influence decision-makers in order to maintain free education to all in the future.