Can the Capital Region retain enough experts even for its own needs?
The Students’ City 2023 study indicates that higher education students enjoy living in the Capital Region but will continue to face major challenges related to subsistence and wellbeing in the future, too.
The Students’ City 2023 study was conducted in spring 2023 to survey the views of higher education students in the Capital Region on subsistence, wellbeing, housing, transport and the Capital Region’s municipalities’ characteristics and ability to retain residents. The survey connected to the study was conducted 1 March–10 April 2023, with 680 students participating in it. The project also included some interviews. The survey took place during the main campaign period for the 2023 parliamentary elections, and the balance of power in the current parliament or the new government were not yet known.
Even though the idea of living in the Capital Region may sound easy in terms of transport and housing, the study shows that there is still a lot that can be improved in the Capital Region. Most students in the Capital Region live in rental apartments, but only 45% of the respondents live in student apartments. There are around 100,000 students in the Capital Region, while the number of student apartments is under 15,000. Students’ housing costs vary a great deal. Even though average housing expenses are 612 euros, 25% of students pay under 400 euros in housing costs, while another 25% pay at least 800 euros per month. There is also a fairly even split among students on how reasonable they consider the rental level in their own neighbourhood: 45% consider the level too high, and 40% consider it reasonable.
The most popular methods of transport for students in the Capital Region are public transport and walking. However, students would prefer lower prices in public transport. The most popular suggestions for developing public transport are increasing or expanding the student discount (64% of the respondents) or entirely free public transport (45% of the respondents).
Some students do well financially, whereas others struggle with their subsistence. The average net income of students in the Capital Region was 1,259 euros per month. The most common sources of income were the study grant, general housing allowance and student loans. Taking out a student loan had become 12% more common compared to the previous Students’ City study, conducted in 2019. The majority of students were worried about the future. A total of 69% of the respondents were worried about their subsistence due to the rise in living costs, and two thirds had less faith in the future than before. Unpredictable incomes have increased working and experiences of slower study progress.
The results also show that students see the Capital Region as an attractive study and work environment. 71% of the respondents considered it likely that they are still living in the Capital Region after graduation or five years from now. The Capital Region was also considered very student friendly; on a scale from 0 to 10, the average grade for student friendliness was 7.07.
However, the student friendliness of the Capital Region is under threat due to the rising housing costs and problems with subsistence. The cuts proposed by the Finnish government will hit students of the Capital Region particularly hard. The vitality of the Capital Region is the lifeblood of Finland. Students create vibrant and sustainable urban culture and often stay for work in the city they studied in after graduation. What will happen to the Capital Region in the future if students do not have the conditions to live and study there?
Specialists in social policy
Tiia Niemi and Teemu Virtanen
Read the report of the Students’ City 2023 study in its entirety here (in Finnish).