We urge the Ministry of Education and Culture to provide funding for its pilot projects so that universities do not have to come up with detours to cover the costs.
Tampere University and Aalto University are launching a pilot in which a pathway programme of EUR 4,960 would give students the chance to study in the Bachelor’s Programmes in English in the fields of science and technology at one of the universities. Aalto University Student Union and the Student Union of Tampere University are appalled by the implementation and costs of the pilot prepared as part of the Finnish government’s Talent Boost programme.
The idea behind the project is good: to offer international students an alternative pathway to apply for and prepare for degree studies in Finnish universities. However, the good intentions are watered down by an unreasonable price tag. In the open university, the maximum price of a credit is EUR 15, whereas in pathway studies a credit costs EUR 248. The price is justified by saying that pathway studies are conducted as continuing professional education provided on commercial terms. At the same time, this is claimed to be an education export product instead of an admission pathway.
The purpose of continuing professional education is to supplement degrees and deepen competence. The pathway studies, on the other hand, include courses in mathematics and the Finnish language and culture aimed at upper secondary aged students, and their real purpose is to provide a study place for degree studies. In our opinion, such a basic online course package of 20 credits cannot be considered education export or continuing professional education.
“The accessibility of Finnish higher education is a primary value and pathways with tuition fees are incompatible with it. The Ministry of Education and Culture must neither expect universities to come up with solutions such as continuing professional education in order to achieve the goals of the ministry”, emphasises Otto Usvajärvi, Chair of the AYY Board. “The implementation of pathway studies offered to upper secondary aged students as paid continuing professional education confuses continuous learning with student admission”, adds Usvajärvi.
“The admission system must not put those applying to higher education in an unequal position. However, this would be the case with pathway studies, as their price is unreasonable”, continues Aleksi Niemi, Chair of the TREY Board. “We are very concerned about the development where paid routes to higher education are normalised. Expensive pathway studies are not an acceptable way to attract international students”, adds Niemi.
We also want to reach students from countries where it is currently difficult or impossible to apply to Finnish universities, and this expensive pathway model is not the right way to do it. It is unsustainable that new ways of attracting students always include a new funding paid by students. We urge the Ministry of Education and Culture to provide funding for its pilot projects so that universities do not have to come up with detours to cover the costs.
Otto Usvajärvi, Aalto University Student Union
Aleksi Niemi, Student Union of Tampere University
Chairs of the Boards
Both AYY and TREY oppose tuition fees for students from outside the EU-EEA countries.
Policy Specialist: Academic Affairs, AYY
Specialist in Educational Affairs and International Affairs, TREY