Joint statement by student unions: The proposed fee for applying for an extension is another slap in the face for students!

Orpo’s government is proposing a fee of 50 euros for university students applying for an extension to complete their studies. The government’s goal is to raise the level of education in Finland, but at the same time, it is adding new obstacles to students’ graduation. Combined with the cuts to subsistence, adding a fee for applying for an extension only serves to repeat the same old message to students: you are nothing but a burden to society.

The government only justifies its proposal by stating that it would standardise practices across universities and universities of applied sciences and promote the equal treatment of higher education students. However, equality cannot be promoted by making the situation worse. The fee was introduced in universities of applied sciences at a different time and with different justifications.

Genuine equality would be represented by removing the fee from students in universities of applied sciences as well. This begs the question why Orpo’s government did not propose this instead.

The mental image of an eternal student lazing their way through their studies is inaccurate. Almost half of all higher education students work alongside their studies (Eurostudent VIII). At the same time, nearly one third of higher education students suffer from mental health challenges (Finnish Student Health and Wellbeing Survey 2021).

Graduating in target time is not always in the student’s own hands. Students need extensions and apply for them for many different reasons. Students who started their studies during the coronavirus pandemic are in an especially vulnerable position. Significant challenges with study progress can already be observed among them.

Adding a fee for applying for an extension encourages students to choose dropping out of the university despite being close to completing their studies and heading to working life without graduating. At a time of an extensive shortage of experts, can we truly afford to set up more obstacles to graduation?

No impact assessments have been made on the fee either. Orpo’s government is choosing to fumble around blindly while the goal of raising the level of education in Finland gets further and further away.

We student unions say: it is time to stop making it more difficult for students to graduate! The Finnish government can support students graduating through sensible policies that promote wellbeing and subsistence. This reform is not going to help with that.

A completed degree benefits both students and the whole society – whether it is completed in target time or during an extension. It is wrong to punish students for wanting to complete their degrees.


Fanni Mattsson, Chair of the Board of Aalto University Student Union

Antti Kaijansinkko, Chair of the Board of the Student Union of the University of Helsinki

Akseli Immonen, Chair of the Board of the Student Union of the University of Jyväskylä

Noora Hakulinen, Chair of the Board of the Student Union of Tampere University

Jonne Kunnas, Chair of the Board of the Student Union of Åbo Akademi University