Jonni Kuortti, Emma Lehtonen ja Alina Järvipetäjä

VYY addressed the bill on tuition fees for international students

The Student Union of the University of Vaasa weighed in on the Government's legislative proposal to Parliament amending the Universities Act and the Universities of Applied Sciences Act. The purpose of the amendment is, among other things, to implement full tuition fees for students from non-EU and non-EEA countries. Full tuition fees would be based on the actual costs of organising education, which would significantly increase the fees. This would, according to both universities and the Ministry of Education and Culture's own estimates, have a negative impact on the number of international students. Therefore, we see that these changes will inevitably weaken the attractiveness and retention power of Finnish higher education.

Free education must be a fundamental right extended for students from outside the EU and EEA countries, regardless of their wealth. As it stands, the proposal would put students in an unequal position in relation to each other. Some of the proposed changes would significantly weaken Finland's competitiveness in the student market. Finland needs international skills in order to solve the current skills shortage.

Furthermore, the proposal introduces an obligation for individuals with residence permits based on studies to pay tuition fees even if the permit's purpose changes, such as transitioning to employment. In our view, there is insufficient evidence of deliberate evasion of tuition fees, especially in the university sector, and we do not consider the amendment necessary. We feel that this would have a negative impact on the willingness of students to seek work in Finland. Employment during the study period is beneficial for the students, the university and the Finnish society. Rather than punitive measures, we advocate for policies that encourage employment during studies, as it enhances the likelihood of students staying in Finland after graduation.

However, we acknowledge a positive dimension in, among other things, the exploration of the introduction of an incentive such as the student loan subsidy and the abolition of the tuition fee obligation for those in need of temporary protection.

"Free and high-quality education is Finland's competitive asset. We need international students to address the growing skills shortage in the future. Finland's survival depends on embracing and retaining international skills," says Alina Järvipetäjä, member of the VYY Board.

VYY's opinion in full can be found on the student union's website in Finnish and the proposal for opinions in Finnish on the Ministry of Justice's opinion service in Finnish and Swedish.


More information

Emma Lehtonen
Chair of the Board

Alina Järvipetäjä
Board member, international affairs

Jonni Kuortti
Board member, educational affairs