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Finnish students demonstrate to keep education tuition-free

The National Union of University Students in Finland (SYL) and the Union of Students in Finnish Universities of Applied Sciences (SAMOK) are arranging a mass demonstration for tuition-free higher education on April 21.

SAMOK and SYL’s concerns have grown especially because throughout the spring there have been many considerations and even proposals of introducing different kinds of tuition fee systems also in Finland.

“These considerations have been presented as a solution to lower the somewhat high average graduation age in Finland – which results actually mostly from a very long average delay in getting into higher education after upper secondary or vocational school”, say the two organisations in a statement.

Higher education in Finland is tuition-free for all EU/EEC students. “Tuition-free higher education is regarded as the cornerstone of the Nordic welfare state”, say the two organisations.

Want guarantee before parliamentary elections

From this spring on and up until the parliamentary elections 2011, SYL and SAMOK encourage all Finns to pay attention to the tuition fee opinions and statements of all politicians and parties.

“We want a guarantee that not a single party is going to plea for tuition fees during the next negotiations of the governmental program – this has to be a tie breaker issue”, emphasises SYL’s President Matti Parpala.

“Tuition fees would seriously harm equality – even small fees cause problems for the lower income class”, SAMOK’s Chairperson Simo Takanen points out.ESU: “We already have enough mobility obstacles”
ESU Chairperson Ligia Deca says that if European governments are to meet the goals they have agreed upon in creating the European Higher Education Area, discriminating against mobile students by imposing tuition fees on them cannot be considered an option.

“Among the prerequisites of such an area is that students have possibilities to take all or part of their studies in a country other than their own. There are already various obstacles to such mobility, and the governments of Europe must work to reduce the barriers that still exist rather than raise new ones”, Deca says.

The national student unions’ mass demonstration for tuition-free higher education is held at 21 April 2010 in Helsinki. The parade gathers at 12:00 in the Senate Square and marches to the Parliament House.

Read a support letter from ESU to the Finnish students, education minister and Parliament here.


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