“Why should I pay to Metka to get the student card sticker when I can get it free?”
(answer to METKA2020 Survey)
The previous articles in METKA2020 series have discussed student union memberships and why it costs to join a student union in the first place. This time, we will tell about student cards and how the situation has developed from plastic cards to digital ones.
METKA and student cards
METKA2020 Survey showed that the digital student card in Tuudo was overwhelmingly the most popular one among the participants: 150 participants out of 171 total told that they use Tuudo student card. Pivo was used by 16, and plastic card by 40 participants. The cards do not exclude each other, so one can use even all three if they want to do so.
The differences in numbers can be easily explained. Tuudo is available for everyone from the first day of studies, and it is also promoted by Metropolia. Pivo was, and still is, rather new addition to student cards, and it is available only for METKA members. The plastic student card production has been in hiatus in 2019-2020.
Student union produces student cards
The student card is arguably the easiest way to state your student status in Finland. Other way would be to use the official school documents. It is definitely more convenient to carry the card on one’s wallet or phone than paper documents, though.
Student card production has traditionally been a part of the student union operations. By producing student cards, student unions like METKA has gotten revenue in membership fees, as students has had to join METKA to buy the plastic student card.
In general, plastic student cards had not been available for students that are not student union members. Compared to universities, joining a student union in universities of applied sciences has never been obligatory to complete studies.
In the past, having a plastic student card was the only convenient way to get student discounts. Digital student cards started to emerge in the early 2010s. Currently, four companies produce digital student cards in Finland: Tuudo, Pivo, Slice.fi and Frank.
METKA develops three students cards
METKA develops digital student cards for Metropolia students with Tuudo and Pivo. The plastic student is making a comeback in fall 2020 as well.
Collaboration with Tuudo started in 2018. Tuudo App was coming to use in Metropolia, so it was a logical choice to look into also for METKA. Pivo came to use in METKA a year later, in fall 2019. Pivo filled the demand of student discounts and benefits that both students wanted to use, and METKA wanted to offer.
Pivo is meant only for METKA Members so that the additional student discounts are only for members to use. Discounts and benefits has always been an important reasons for students to join METKA. Therefore, Pivo serves both students in terms of discounts and METKA by bringing membership revenue.
Why is the Tuudo student card free of charge?
As discussed, vast majority of the participants in METKA2020 Survey use Tuudo as their preferred student card. Main reasons mentioned were that it does not cost anything and it is easy to use.
Almost all Metropolia students are eligible for Tuudo student card. The app is integrated to the student registry, and it recognizes the study right automatically, thus offering a card either with or without national student benefits.
Metropolia students do not need to join METKA to get Tuudo student card. As mentioned, student cards are an important means to student unions to gain membership revenue. Why did METKA decide to take a huge risk in giving up the membership demand for student card, which would lead to the loss in revenue?
The development toward free student card started in 2015, when Finnish Ministry of Education and Culture announced that it wants to develop a registry that includes all Finnish citizens’ study information. In other words, the registry would also include an information if someone is currently a student or not.
Since then, the registry called VIRTA has been taken into use. All Finnish citizens can access the registry to check what study information has been collected.
Soon after the announcement about the plans for VIRTA in 2015 it came clear that student unions would most likely lose their position in controlling the student status information. This did eventually happen: for example HSL can sell student discounted mobile tickets directly on their app.
Plastic student card coming back in fall 2020
Plastic student card is still holding its ground in the digital world. However, plastic student cards have not been available for Metropolia students since spring 2019, when the contract with the previous producer ended.
The plastic student card is still a part of METKAs card roster even though the producation has halted for a while. The card is developed to be more than a simple piece of plastic in a wallet. The upcoming METKA student card can be used for example as an access card in campuses.
In addition to making new contracts and developing the card itself, the hiatus has been extended as METKA is working on its member registry and online store options.
METKA Student Card will be available again in fall 2020.
This article was written by Paavo Nisula, Specialist in Member Services.
This post is also available in Suomi.