TREY gave its statement on the education policy report, which aims to provide guidelines for the development of education and research until the 2040s. The education policy report is the most important document examining the entire education system and research during the government term.
The contents of the education policy report concern matters that are important to our students, such as the promotion of equality and educational equality. TREY does not compromise on the promotion of free education, accessible higher education system or democratic activities of educational institutions.
“The strength of the Finnish higher education is free education, which is accessible to everyone, regardless of socio-economic background,” says Tuomas Karvonen, member of the Executive Board of the Student Union of Tampere University, responsible for national education policy. “Active attention must be paid to ensuring that inequality development does not increase.”
The education policy report draft was in an extensive circulation for comment and TREY shared its views to it. Through open circulation for comment, other parties can also comment on amendments to laws or action plans that are under preparation. In total, more than 300 actors commented on the education policy report. After the circulation for comment, the Government submits the education policy report to the Parliament. The preparation material of the education policy report and the statements are available on the website of the Ministry of Education and Culture.
Jenny Vaara, Specialist in Educational Affairs, tel. +358 50 361 2847, firstname.lastname@example.org
TREY’s statement on the education policy report:
Request for an opinion of a report draft on education policy of the Government
General comments on the report
The Student Union of Tampere University, later referred to as TREY, is grateful for the opportunity to provide comments on the report draft on education policy of the Government. In TREY’s opinion, the report on education policy is the most important document during the term of office examining the whole education system and research.
We are grateful that the educational report seeks ways of solving big societal challenges. Education must actively acknowledge society’s changes because it does not work detached from time. We are also grateful for how the report highlights the meaning of education and research as advocates of change.
TREY is grateful that the objectives and measures concerning equality have been widely acknowledged in the educational report. Different situations in life or background cannot be an obstacle to education. We believe in equality as a guiding principle of all the action, which should not be compromised. In the statement, TREY pays attention to how the meaning of free education should be brought up more comprehensively in the report. In addition, we hope that the report would pay more attention to democracy activities of educational establishments and institutes of higher education.
Comments on chapter 2. Vision/target state – education and research towards the 2040s
The Student Union of Tampere University, TREY, considers it important that in the target state the learner orientation and promotion of equality are matters that are not compromised in the Finnish education system. Accessible education system best guarantees social equality and enables individual’s social mobility. TREY is grateful that the report is strongly based on education. In the university community, science, research, and education create the basis for all action. It is significant that research is recognized as an important part of the target state. We hope that the academic freedom, that is to say freedom of science, research, and teaching, and recognition of diversity of fields would be brought up more strongly in the goal state. Academic freedom is an important part of democratic societies and Finland should actively promote its international realisation.
Challenges, to which Finland searches for solutions in the next few years, such as the climate crisis, population trends and changes in work, are multinational and cross the nation states’ borders. Therefore, TREY demands that Finland will continue to acknowledge that the challenges are solved with international cooperation: Europe and its values must be defended. Finland invests in developing Erasmus+ programme and promotes that in every level of education for growing number of learners it is possible to participate in internationalization. Identification and recognition of competence acquired abroad will be promoted.
Comments on chapter 3.1 Early childhood education and pre-primary and basic education
The Student Union of Tampere University, later referred to as TREY, wants to advance the expansion of free education in early childhood education and pre-primary education. We propose that the early childhood education and pre-primary education will be funded from public funds. Free education advances genuine participation in early childhood education and also admission to higher education. Education path is an entity in which case the effects in participation level in higher education occur already in earlier levels of education.
TREY joins in the report’s demand on literacy being a basic requirement for learning. Multiliteracy would support the admission to higher education and promote the expansion of accessibility in education. TREY is especially grateful for the measure of taking into account the devices and digital tools available to children and adolescent.
Comments on chapter 3.2 Upper secondary level
TREY hopes that the report would better acknowledge the transitions from vocational training to higher education and especially to universities. A smooth transition should be strengthened, regardless of the learner’s previous educational path, as vocational training also provides a higher education qualification.
TREY wants to highlight that the report should pay more attention to the cooperation between schools of upper secondary level and institutes of higher education. Increase in cooperation supports at its best the smooth transition of applying to higher education when the upper secondary level students are offered a wide range of studies and contents supporting their interests.
Comments on chapter 3.3 Institutes of higher education
The Student Union of Tampere University, later referred to as TREY, is grateful that the report pays attention to accessible higher education system and realisation of equality. TREY considers the objective primary in order to guarantee the realisation of social equality and the social mobility of the individual. We are grateful that attention has been paid widely with different measures to underrepresented groups’ participation to education.
TREY considers it important that there is a long-term commitment to the increase of education and skill levels. TREY is concerned that the resources presented are not sufficient to provide teaching of high quality, as additional resources must consider the needs of growing fields of study by area of education. Fields that are growing in terms of student numbers must not be put at a university-specific disadvantage, because resources must be directed to internally growing fields at the expense of other fields. The reform must consider the specific features of the fields when expanding education.
TREY demands that the report pays more attention to free education in higher education. The strength of the Finnish higher education must be free education leading to a degree that is accessible regardless of parents’ education, status in employment or wealth. We consider it highly important that the report actively pays attention to that there is no increase in development of inequality. Actions focusing on accessibility promote educational equality which should not be compromised.
We in TREY pay attention to the fact that the employment of international students must aim not only for the employment rate but also for students to be employed in positions corresponding to their education after graduation. Tuition fees for students from non-EU and non-EEA countries shall be abolished, as when the students enter the Finnish labour market, they will pay back the costs of their degree in taxes.
In addition to employment, integration into Finnish society is especially influenced by the experience of community and learning the language. To promote these, emphasis will be placed on the role of student associations and extensive language studies during the degree.
The Student Union of Tampere University suggests a new measure to increase the number of students who have completed an internationalization period and to develop the recognition of competence acquired abroad. All university degrees are developed in such a way that it is possible to do an international exchange or internship as part of them. In addition, every student must have the opportunity to internationalization at home during their studies, for example through language or project studies. Language skills are an essential part of academic education and the expert’s working life skills. TREY proposes that the narrowing of the Finnish language reserve is prevented by diversifying the range of language studies at higher education institutions. All students are given the opportunity to start a new foreign language during their higher education studies and to study it to the level that enables them to work in that language.
The Student Union of Tampere University suggests a new measure since autonomous higher education institutions do not currently have common policies or indicators for monitoring the implementation of equality work. At TREY, we consider it important that such common indicators of equality and parity be created. Common indicators developed by higher education institutions would enable comparisons between higher education institutions and the detection of areas for development. To the measures in the report should be added for example the following entry: “National targets will be set for equality work in higher education institutions and common indicators will be developed for examining the implementation of equality and parity in higher education institutions.”
The Student Union of Tampere University demands that the educational report commits to abandoning the quota for first-time applicants. From the point of view of cultural rights, the first-time quota does not streamline the apply for higher education but increases the tactics of applicants. The student selection system should be equal and should not put applicants in an unequal position depending on their previous educational path.
The Student Union of Tampere University demands that the educational report commits to university democracy. Participation of the university community and belonging to the community needs to be promoted so that all members of the community, that is the students, professors, teaching, research, and other staff, are involved from preparation to decision-making. In universities, the principle of subsidiarity must guide all activities, as it supports the participation of the university community.
Comments on chapter 3.4 Science and researched information
The Student Union of Tampere University (TREY) highlights that in the higher education communities, science, research, and education form the basis for all activities. TREY hopes that the academic freedom, that is the freedom of science, research, and teaching, and the recognition of the diversity of fields would be more strongly emphasized in the section. Academic freedom is an essential part of finding new knowledge and solutions to the challenges our society is facing.
Comments on chapter 3.6 Continuous learning – learning during working career
TREY hopes that the incentives for the utilization of study leave will be reformed. The mechanisms of study leave must advance an individual’s lifelong learning and applying for learning.
Comments on chapter 3.9 Financial aid to students
The Student Union of Tampere University, later referred to as TREY, considers that the purpose of the educational report on financial aid to students is very good and reflects the purpose of financial aid as an enabler of equal learning opportunities.
TREY considers the following proposals for measures to be good: securing the level of financial aid to students as an index increase, improving the sufficiency of financial aid to better support full-time studying, and increasing the number of financial aid months. TREY considers the examination of financial aid’s structures to be a particularly important proposal for action, as in its current form the two-stage financial aid prevents the construction of flexible study paths.
In particular, TREY considers that the introduction of interest rate hedge would be an important step in promoting equal study opportunities.
TREY considers that the increase of income limit expressed in the proposal for action would be a welcome addition to students’ subsistence but points out that the increase of financial aid for students should be primarily directed to increasing the level of financial aid or the number of financial aid months.
TREY proposes as a new measure in the chapter on financial aid for students that the housing allowance applied for by students be changed from per household to an individual allowance. Students have very diverse housing arrangements, and the per household nature of housing allowance does not serve the students’ housing situations. Irregular income should also be taken into account more flexibly in the criteria for granting the allowance.
Iiris Taubert Venla Monter
Chair Secretary General
Jenny Vaara, Specialist in Educational Affairs
tel. +358 50 361 2847, email@example.com