The Finnish Government published this year’s fourth supplementary budget proposal on 2 June 2020, proposing investments in education, scientific research and student welfare. The Government proposes a total of 124 million euros to be allocated to increasing university student intake by 4,800 available places. The Government has also proposed additional funding for open universities, student guidance and counselling services, and the strengthening of student welfare support services.
Student intake increases are proposed already for the ongoing application period. These increases would mean, among other thigs, additional changes to this spring’s joint application system. This could create a possibility to make student selections more balanced on those disciplines which emphasized school certifications in the spring student selections. The Student Union of Tampere University is in favour of emphasizing the role of entrance examinations and previous open university studies once students are selected for the additional available places proposed in the supplementary budget proposal.
“It’s wonderful to hear that the Government’s latest supplementary budget proposal has raised the possibility of relieving open university students of study fees. We students feel that this will promote the expansion of free education and the higher education opportunities of young people on a small income,” states Annika Nevanpää, Chair of the Executive Board of the Student Union of Tampere University.
For universities, the number of additional available student places is 2,600, which is almost double the number anticipated by universities after a statement made by Unifi, the Finnish Council of University Rectors. Currently, a significant increase in student intake would pose a threat to the quality of university education, as the decisions would have to be made on a very tight schedule, without enough time to assess the potential consequences.
Student intake should be determined on the basis of future skills needs while promoting the students’ level of education. From the point of view of students, the number of students should be increased in fields which already have the ability and resources to increase their student intake without sacrificing the quality of teaching. In the future, the game-changers will be a diverse group of people.
An increased student intake also means an increased need for support and guidance services. It is not enough to consider the sufficient number of teaching and research personnel: we also need to identify the effects of increased student intakes on support and guidance personnel. Sufficient support service resources and high-quality guidance services play a key role in students’ study success.
The supplementary budget proposal’s investments in the well-being of students and young people are extremely important. By supporting the student welfare services of universities and the FSHS, it is possible to make the situation easier for students. This spring has been particularly stressful for many students, and the adoption of distant learning methods has made studies more challenging. Now is the time to ensure that support and guidance are directed to those who need it so that students can concentrate on their studies.
Chair of the Executive Board
Additional information: Ville Jäppinen, TREY’s Executive Board, educational affairs sector, tel: 0447568539, ville.jappinen(at)trey.fi