HSL’s cost-saving measures must not come at the expense of students
The Student Union of the University of Helsinki (HYY) opposes HSL’s proposals to make the student discount conditional on receiving student aid and to reduce the student discount.
On the morning of Tuesday 25 October 2022, HSL’s board will decide on its ticket prices. The current proposal includes reducing the discount on student tickets from the current 45 per cent to 40 per cent and to make the right to receive the discount conditional on receiving student aid. At the same time, the proposal also includes an increase to ticket prices. We are extremely worried about the effects of this proposal.
‘The proposed measures hit students the hardest. Making the student discount conditional on receiving student aid is an alarming direction to take. If the proposed changes were made, the right to receive a discount from HSL would become one more benefit that excludes a significant number of students. Some of the students who are in the weakest position are also excluded from receiving student aid. People should not be punished for losing their study ability’, Member of HYY’s Board Sonja Naalisvaara points out.
HSL claims that making the discount conditional on receiving student aid would ensure that it is more accurately directed at those who need it. However, working full time is not the only reason for students to be excluded from receiving student aid. Furthermore, the discount being conditional on receiving student aid would not even prevent those working full-time from getting it: they will continue to be entitled to receive student aid – they might simply have to return it if they exceed the income limits.
‘For some students, basic security is provided by other benefits than student aid, such as sickness allowance. This group of students is already in a vulnerable position and could not use public transport without the discount. The measures HSL is proposing to tackle its financial difficulties target the students who are already falling through the net: those who are not entitled to receive student aid’, Member of HYY’s Board Jenny Kasongo stresses.
Further increasing the complexity of the student aid system is not sensible from any perspective. Making the discount conditional on receiving student aid may also prove administratively cumbersome while also forcing students to spend time on making calculated choices with their months of student aid. From a student perspective, the proposal will result in a system that is even more confusing and requires even more energy and time than at present.
We understand the difficult financial situation HSL finds itself in due to high inflation, increasing fuel and electricity prices and the aftereffects of the pandemic. We have called for government support for sustainable public transport. The government must support HSL with its financial issues, but HSL’s financial deficit must not be closed at the expense of students who already have low incomes. Every single euro taken from students’ pockets is too much, but above all, making the student discount conditional on receiving student aid would increase inequality among students.
Member of the Board in charge of the city
050 543 9615
Member of the Board in charge of subsistence
050 595 0327