The Ministry of Education and Culture proposes amendments to the Universities Act and the Universities of Applied Sciences Act. The amendment would implement the Government Programmes commitment to fully subsidize tuition fees. The tuition fees charged to non-EU and non-EEA higher education students in foreign-language degree courses should therefore cover the costs of organizing the education.

In addition, a student who entered the country with a residence permit would continue to be liable for tuition fees even if he or she changes his or her residence permit to a work permit, for example, and the application fee would be refunded when applying for a degree course in a non-EU/EEA country.

The provisions of the Universities Act and the Universities of Applied Sciences Act on on-demand training would be clarified to take better account of students’ rights. Higher education institutions would be given the right to be informed of the applicant’s and student’s residence permit data.

Metropolia offers a number of degrees in English, with a significant proportion of students coming from outside the EU and EEA countries. We support the proposal’s aim of equalizing higher education institutions and reducing administrative workload, but we believe that the individual measures discussed in the proposal unnecessarily complicate the lives of international students in Finland. METKA would like to point out that the proposed measures to improve the resources of higher education institutions, such as the refund of the processing fee and the increase of the tuition fee, are currently only a transfer of costs from the higher education institution to the students.

METKA supports the refund of the application fee, but it should be genuinely targeted at reducing the number of incomplete applications and ineligible applications, for example. METKA recognizes that the administrative burden is high. However, the processing fee should be per semester and one fee should allow applicants to choose between several applications from different universities. The fee should be refunded to students who are selected to study and actually start their studies. The processing fee should be sufficiently low and in line with other administrative costs imposed on students by higher education institutions.

METKA sees tuition fees as a value choice against free education and Finland’s attractiveness. We feel that equalizing tuition fees between higher education institutions is worthwhile in order to reduce distortion of competition, but it is the wrong direction. Instead of full-funding, METKA believes that tuition fees should be lowered and the scholarship system clarified. The proposal estimates that a move to full coverage would mean an increase of around €5,000 in average net tuition fees. METKA considers the one-off increase to be too high.

As regards the obligation to pay tuition fees, METKA sees a problem in penalizing the work. From the point of view of integration and retention factors, it is encouraging if students can find work in Finland.  METKA understands that it is difficult to predict the revenue from tuition fees, but we see the proposal as a problematic solution. In any case, the amount of tuition fees will vary from year to year, depending on, for example, how attractive Finland is perceived within the EU. Although the proposal does not prevent people from applying for a work-based residence permit, combined with other planned changes, this will make Finland less attractive as a study destination.

METKA sees the change in the right of access to information for higher education institutions as welcome. We feel that the change will facilitate the administrative work of higher education institutions without undermining the legal security of the applicant.

Read the whole statement in Finnish here.

This post is also available in Suomi.