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University of Helsinki management and students: cuts to student aid impede and slow down studies


STATEMENT 9 March 2016

The University of Helsinki’s students, Chancellor Thomas Wilhelmsson and Vice Rector Keijo Hämäläinen (in charge of education) warn the Government of the consequences of cutting students’ subsistence. Decreasing the level of the study grant while increasing the share of student loan only encourages students to take on more work alongside their studies, not to graduate in target time. Contrary to the Government’s objectives, cutting student aid will make study times longer and prevent students from fully focusing on their studies.

– The primary objective of the student aid is to encourage studying. By guaranteeing students’ subsistence during their studies, we will ensure that everyone has the opportunity to study regardless of their background and wealth, HYY’s Chair of the Board Susanna Jokimies reiterates.

With the cuts it has made to universities’ funding, the Finnish Government has already shown its disregard towards long-term research and the preconditions for high-quality university studies.

The cuts to education will unavoidably influence the amount and quality of teaching, but they will be an especially hard blow on support and administrative services, which are necessary to ensure that students can smoothly progress through their studies and graduate. Admitting new students, career advisement, library services and even registering grades are all things that do not happen automatically – they require skilled and professional personnel.

– It is a wise investment on the part of society to enable full-time, purposeful studying without the financial necessity of having to work during the academic term. Studies should not have to yield because of work – this makes both students and teachers suffer, the University of Helsinki’s Vice Rector Keijo Hämäläinen (in charge of education) declares.

The cuts to both education and student aid hit the lives of students at the University of Helsinki who live in the Capital Region particularly hard.

One third of the students living in the Uusimaa region who receive the study grant and the housing supplement already use both of these and even more just for their rents, which are the highest in the country. For one in ten students at the University of Helsinki, the most important reason for their studies slowing down is having problems with subsistence.

There are enough student apartments for only one fourth of higher education students. The rate of use in the Foundation for Student Housing in the Helsinki Region’s (Hoas) student apartments is 99%, while over 3 000 students are continuously in line for an apartment.

– When getting work is uncertain on many fields and acquiring even a modest apartment often requires a substantial debt, being afraid of financing your studies with a loan is quite understandable. I am convinced that weakening student aid will only serve to make graduation times longer, the University of Helsinki’s Chancellor Thomas Wilhelmsson notes.

If student financial aid is decreased from its current level, fewer students will afford to focus on their studies full time. Two alternatives will remain: work or get a debt of over 20 000 euros for your Master’s degree.

Everyone, regardless of their wealth, should have the economic prerequisites to study full time and in peace as well as to graduate on time. This is why a sufficient level of subsistence should be guaranteed to students, and the cuts to student aid should be abandoned.

Susanna Jokimies, Chair of the Board of the Student Union of the University of Helsinki
Thomas Wilhelmsson, Chancellor of the University of Helsinki
Keijo Hämäläinen, Vice Rector of the University of Helsinki

More information:

Susanna Jokimies, HYY Chair of the Board
tel. +35 850 543 9610