Statement: High-quality education is a strong traction force

23 March, 2023

The students of today are the workers of tomorrow. Given this reality, most people agree that investing in young people is an investment in the country’s future. Although this sentiment is echoed not only by the general public, but also by the majority of policy makers, the funding for education has only decreased over the last decade. The Ministry of Finance is proposing austerity measures that encourage higher debt among students while warning of rising debt levels among private households. The well-being of young adults has declined according to most indicators, but the Ministry of Finance points out that student tuition fees could encourage students to graduate faster. The austerity measures look 10 years ahead, but fail to recognise the long-term losses that the measures risk. 

Internationally and also in the Nordic countries, Finland is recognised for its high quality education. In most countries, student migration is highly valued and thus processes have been streamlined through international agreements within the EU, but even more so within the Nordic countries. Student capital is high and young members of society with great potential are sought after. Although the quality of education is not the only factor influencing the decision of where students choose to study, it is a very important one. Cuts in education in Finland will lead to a decline in the quality of education and for a country whose biggest feather in its cap is its education, this can dramatically affect the attraction of students both within and outside the country. 

Especially in the Finnish-Swedish higher education sector, institutions of higher education are not only competing for applicants within the country, but also with our neighbour Sweden. According to a report published by the think tank Magma in 2019, the results indicate a large percentage difference between Swedish-speaking immigrants to Sweden and Finnish-speaking immigrants from Finland. Of those who move to Sweden, less than 50% of Swedish-speaking Finns move back to Finland, which is also a significantly lower percentage than among Finnish speakers. Even taking into account Swedish migration to Finland, Swedish speakers in Finland are experiencing a migration deficit. 

To increase Finland’s competitiveness in migration among the other Nordic countries, there are a number of improvement measures that can be taken . The renewed criteria for A residence permits in Finland for international students are a step in the right direction, but ultimately do not ease the process of obtaining permanent residence in the country. When asked how we as a country can prepare for the outcome of a lower birth rate, the answer is often increased emigration. To attract, integrate and retain foreign emigrants, quality education takes precedence. 

As a country that prides itself on its education, the quality of education cannot be compromised. Neither should the higher education system be turned into a degree production factory, as it is important that students graduating in Finland have the skills required for the labour market. The future labour force must have the right skills, but risking the health, well-being or indebtedness of students is not the right approach either. Ultimately, balancing the government spendings is a matter of prioritisation, and in the long term we cannot afford to de-prioritise the quality of education or the health of young people.

For more information

Arcada Student Union – ASK
Abbe Karlsson
Board member
abbe@asken.fi

Studerandekåren vid Yrkeshögskolan Novia – Novium
Lina Johansson
Chairperson of the Board
so-novium@novia.fi
+358 453430777

The statement is part of ASK’s and Novium’s joint parliamentary election campaign “Kaikille samma!“.