Higher education institutions are getting much needed additional funding for 127 million euros. However, this comes with a request for significant increase to degree places. It’s true that we need more degree places than before, but increasing them without adequate increase to funding means that resources per student will decrease.
The increasing demands and small monetary investments feel in the back of the skin of the students. While the amount of distance learning is increasing, the amount of important good quality contact teaching is decreasing, which is seen in the everyday life of students. While contact teaching is decreasing, so do our opportunities for interacting with the teachers and receiving guidance, professional hands-on expertise is threatened and the threshold for students to use wellness services and other services offered for students rises. It’s absurd to present these demands that weaken the ability for higher education institutions to offer contact teaching, and at the same time talk about the dire need to improve students’ mental health and professional skill. The long-demanded improvements for students’ welfare have been forgotten.
The time to invest resources in education is now or never. Finland is falling behind on the amount of people with an academic degree on international scale, and the Ministry of Education and Culture’s vision and goal is that 50% of the population aged 25-34 have an academic degree by the year 2030. Compared to the current state this would mean an increase of nine percentage points. Another cause of worry is the applicant pressure of higher education institutions which culminates when only every third applicant receives a degree place annually. The situation is especially dire in the Uusimaa region, where the amount of applicants per degree place is far higher compared to the rest of Finland.
The only way to reach this goal and ease the applicant pressure is a significant increase to degree places. However, this is not possible without adequate funding. Otherwise it would mean cutting the resources currently available per degree. Higher education institutions are already suffering from inadequate funding, which can be seen in the amount of resources they can invest in education, academic advising and the wellness of students and staff.
The goals are big and the funding small. It’s understandable that there’s a lack of expertise on certain fields in Finland, but it’s strange how the funding doesn’t meet the demand for new degree places. Higher education institutions and their students have been left in the background when it comes to political discussion and state funding for the past four years. Now is the time to restore the honor with education for both the universities of applied sciences and universities.
The Student Union of Haaga-Helia University of Applied Sciences Helga
The Student Union of Humak University of Applied Sciences HUMAKO
The Student Union of Laurea University of Applied Sciences Laureamko
The Student Union of Helsinki Metropolia University of Applied Sciences METKA
The Student Union of Diaconia University of Applied Sciences O’Diako
This post is also available in Suomi.