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Organisations: Getting hung up on tuition fees is the only obstacle for developing Finnish education export

Statement 11 June 2014

For immediate release

Getting hung up on tuition fees is the only obstacle for developing Finnish education export

Build Finland’s education brand based on what we are famous for and good at.

Education export has once again made headlines in Finland. And again the debate is stuck on introducing tuition fees for students from outside the EU and the EEA. The national politically neutral and party political student and youth organisations see education export as an opportunity for Finland – if realised in a sensible manner. Talk about obstacles for education export is misleading. In practice, the only thing currently not allowed is charging tuition fees of individual degree students.

“There are many possibilities in education export. Finland needs to be courageous and employ visionary thinking. Our strengths include teacher education and knowledge of higher education systems, welfare services, and public administration. These are areas on which to build a strong education export and business. Charging individuals tuition fees is neither necessary nor profitable,” say the presidents of the organisations.

In the last years, education export has been developed in many good projects at higher education institutions and businesses. What has been missing is an effective contact point for coordinating demand and supply.

“In a global perspective, the principle of a one-stop-shop is crucial. Then large orders could be split between several institutions. No Finnish higher education institution alone can handle an order for thousands of degrees, but through cooperation this is possible,” the presidents emphasize.

Education export and charging students from outside the EU and EEA tuition fees are two separate issues. Introducing tuition fees does not attract students nor do fees improve higher education institutions’ finances. This is shown by both other Nordic countries as well as the trial period in Finland. In Sweden, the number of applicants dropped by more than 90 per cent during the first year after fees were introduced. Seven years after the introduction of tuition fees in Denmark, the number of students from outside the EU and the EEA still has not recovered. This despite both Sweden and Denmark continuously pumping money into scholarship funds. Sweden has also been forced to shut down international programmes, especially in technology.

It is nonetheless a necessity for Finland to attract international students in order to promote internationalisation of Finnish education and society, for labour as well as a solution for lack of labour and in order to create new job opportunities

“Tuition fees shoot down the objectives set for recruiting international students. There is no sense whatsoever in tuition fees for student from outside the EU and the EEA, but even so, it is becoming taboo to resist fees. We know that there are others in higher education and society who resist these tuition fees – student and youth organisations are not alone in opposing them. We now wish others would speak up as well. If truth stays silent, ideological mumbo-jumbo will triumph,” underlines the presidents.

The statement is signed by nine organisations: Akava Students, Finnish Centre Students (KOL), Liberal Students LSK, Social Democratic Students in Finland (SONK), STTK Students, The Union of Students in Finnish Universities of Applied Sciences – SAMOK, The National Union of University Students in Finland (SYL), Left Students (VASOP), and Federation of Green Youth and Students (ViNO).

Contact details:

Jouni Markkanen, President, Akava Students, tel. +358 40 542 9514, jouni.markkanen@akava.fi
Jirka Hakala, President, KOL, tel. +358 50 389 7260, firstname.lastname@keskustaopiskelijat.fi
Christoffer Andersson, President, LSK, firstname.lastname@liberal.fi
Toni Asikainen, Chairperson, SAMOK, tel. +358 50 389 1000, firstname.lastname@samok.fi
Anette Karlsson, President, SONK, tel. +358 45 1129 299, puheenjohtaja@sonk.fi
Piia Kuosmanen, President, SYL, tel. +358 44 906 5007, firstname.lastname@syl.fi
Mikko Valtonen, President, STTK Students, tel. +358 40 548 7938, firstname.lastname@sttk.fi
Tiina Parkkinen, President, VASOP, tel. +358 45 175 9474,puheenjohtaja@vasemmisto-opiskelijat.fi
ViNO Presidents: Maria Ohisalo, tel. +358 40 703 4185 and Aaro Häkkinen, tel. +358 45 631 2036, puheenjohtajat@vino.fi

Original statement on SYL website (published on 11.6.2014)