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Members of the community at Helsinki University: No to the proposed tuition fees!

03.11.2014

HYY has published a petition against the proposed tuition fees!

Last week the Minister of Education and Science, Krista Kiuru, sent a legislative proposal out for comments last week. The proposed legislation would impose mandatory tuition fees of at least 4000€ for students in higher education coming from outside the EU/EEA -area. The legislation would stand in the way of the internationalization of Finnish education, place international students at an unfair disadvantage compared to native students, weaken the autonomy of Finnish universities, and damage the Finnish economy.

We, as members of the university community, demand that preparations for the legislation be terminated before it is submitted to parliament. If the proposed legislation reaches the parliament, we demand it be dismissed.

Upon completion, this petition will be submitted to the universities leadership as well as national decision-makers.

You can sign the petition here.

Further information:
The aim of the Ministry of Education and Culture has been to increase the number of international degree students studying in Finland. Between the years 2004 and 2013, the number of international degree students has increased annually by an average of 10%.

In Sweden and Denmark, the number of international degree students also increased rapidly, until the countries introduced similar tuition fees that are now proposed in Finland. In Denmark, the number of new students decreased by more than a third and the growth track has decreased from the previous situation. In Sweden, the decrease was nearly 80%. The number of students has still not recovered to its previous level, whereas other countries have increased their lead over the number of international students. The experiments carried out in Finland also show that tuition fees drive students away. The final report of the organised tuition fee experiment stated that it has been difficult to find willing students for programmes with tuition fees.

The number of students in Sweden and Denmark has slightly recovered, but it has happened in a manner that is in conflict with the Finnish educational objectives. Changes have been detected in the social background of international students when the number of talented students coming from poorer backgrounds, in particular, has decreased along the tuition fees. Compared with the previous situation, students have more often chosen inexpensive lower-level degrees. It is unfair and contrary to the education values of our country to place students so drastically to an unequal position based on wealth or nationality. It is the advantage of the universities and Finland that students are selected based on their competent, not based on their wealth.

Tuition fees have also proven to be uneconomical. In the experiment carried out in Finland, the universities made loss due to the payment of scholarships and administrative costs. In terms of the national economy, tuition fees
make even less sense: for each young person who stays in Finland to work, the general government finances receive up to hundreds of thousands of net benefits, in accordance with the estimates of VATT and CIMO (http://bit.ly/1zDRF9z). When the number of international students decreases due to tuition fees, the economic impact will therefore be negative.

Contrary to what common sense might suggest, free education for international students is economically profitable. It is estimated that the education of international students is profitable if only 30% of students stay and work in Finland for at least five years. According to studies, 47% of international students have been employed in Finland in the year following their graduation. According to various estimates, 60-80% of international students would like to stay in Finland to work but have to return to their home country due to the immigration policy.