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HYY: Restrictions to student financial aid do not encourage students to graduate faster

19.03.2013

Statement, 15 Mar 2013. Free for publication.

The Student Union of the University of Helsinki (HYY) opposes reforms planned for student financial aid, which would  more strictly limit the period when student financial aid can be received or change the aid into a more loan-oriented direction. On 20 Mar, HYY will participate in a mass demonstration arranged in Helsinki together with other student organisations for maintaining the current form of student financial aid.

Among other things, 5+1 model has been discussed during the spring, in which all student financial aid months should be used in precisely five years, after which students would only receive a loan. The model has been justified to accelerate studies. HYY points out that completing a degree in five years may be difficult in practice for several reasons, such as study arrangements or changing the field of study. In this case, it does not help the student to graduate if all financial aid months must be used within five years. The number of financial aid months is already limited: one can receive the student financial aid for the maximum of 55 months.
- 5+1 model is not a suitable form of support for higher education students as the university studies require flexibility.  There must be space for students' own consideration in order for them to have the opportunity for longer internship periods along with studies, for example, says Chair of HYY Board Lauri Koskentausta.

At present, the Finnish Government Programme includes an entry which states that student financial aid will be tied to the index on 1 Sept 2014. Student financial aid is the only social benefit that is not tied to the index.
- We want promises to be kept. We do not ask for the moon but only that the students' position is not deteriorated, Koskentausta states.

HYY also points out that student financial aid was last amended in 2011.
- That is enough of fiddling around: there is not even time to implement the actual consequences of changes made to student financial aid before the next change is already being planned. At the moment, it is important to focus on providing students with high quality degrees and support the employment of graduates. In this way, we could truly improve the employment of the young and extend working careers, Koskentausta says.

Lauri Koskentausta, Chair of HYY Board          
Katri Korolainen, HYY's Secretary General

Further information: Tiina Parkkinen, HYY Board Member 050 325 9175, tiina.parkkinen(at)hyy.fi