There has been a lot of action at the office as well as in everyday politics. Below a short summary of some of the themes we have been working on .
The funding negotiations between the ministry and the universities are ongoing. We at SYL have been monitoring the situation closely. The government needs to respect the autonomy of the universities, but to strategically steer them is not out of the question.
The debate on structural development continues. For one, Tampere3 is going forward quickly. SYL is keeping in close contact with the ministry and we are monitoring the local projects. SYL has long been a proponent of structural reform.
The state budget negotiations ended with focusing a 105 million investment in flexible study paths, digital learning environments, and supporting young researchers. We have proposed some investment objects of our own, including a nationwide “exams aquarium”.
There is a drive to reform the entrance examinations. The goal is for young people to enter higher education more quickly. SYL finds that there is room for improvement both with regards to the matriculation exams as well as the entrance exams. We need to get away from the over-valuing of learning by heart.
SYL is organising a completely new kind of of international learning event on 18–19 October in Helsinki. Our aim is to gather 4,000 participants, the major part of which we hope to consist of international actors, including politicians, state officials, researchers of learning, teachers and trainers, creators of learning materials, tools and technologies as well as organisations focusing on education export. The event will be an official part of the Finland100 centenary, but we intend to secure the continuation of this in such a way that the learning event can be organised regularly also after the centenary.
SYL will create a learning event where participants experience and interact, an event that will put Finland in the centre of global education and learning.
1) Do international students find jobs, and if not, why not?
SYL together with our partners is looking for a solution for a tricky challenge. This is a challenge that weakens the competitiveness of Finland. Less than half of the international students who would like to remain in Finland, are able to get a job. Jobs often do not correspond to one’s education, and at the University of Helsinki up to 36% of the students see racism as an obstacle to employment. SYL is aiming to identify best practices to solve this problem and to show what students experience by filming. Stay tuned!
2) International advocacy – Finland now has a representative on the Executive Committee of the European union of national student unions
The Board Meeting of the European Students’ Union took place on 12 to 13 Mat 2016 in Bergen, Norway. One important goal for the Finnish delegation was reached when Gramoz Shpendi from SAMOK was elected to the Executive Committee of ESU..This means that SYL as well will have a direct communication channel to the European level. Among other things, ESU influences the Bologna Process and how students’ rights are implemented. SYL also carries out our own advocacy work towards the European Parliament, for instance.
3) Easy mobility! The European Union eases the criteria for visas for student and researchers.
In the future, students from outside the EU can stay for nine months to look for a job after having graduated. From now on, the student will have a right to work 15 hours per week also when they are in the country as an exchange student. In some cases, the student does not even have to apply for a visa or residence permit, btu only need to report that they are staying or moving in the EU. The expectation is that this will increase the competitiveness of Europe on the global education market. Read more here: http://www.universityworldnews.com/article.php?story=20160512214927950
1) The cuts implemented by the state hurt organisations – SYL reorganising our development cooperation
2) Development Cooperation Theme Week 2016 10–16.10.2016
Eight student unions from all across Finland take part in the development cooperation theme week.This year, the week will focus on the sustainability goals set by the UN (Agenda 2030) as well as encouraging student to think about towards what kind of world they want to work before 2030. During the week, students can get to know the Agenda goals and we will work to raise awareness about how the everyday life of students in Finland is connected to the developing world, and the other way around.
3) Together with our partner organisation Afortalecer in Mozambique, SYL carried out a project focusing on improving the reading and writing skills of children in grades 1 and 2 during 2013–2015. In the schools in the project, a total of 2,628 pupils got an exercise book of their own, which they could use for practising writing. Classrooms were equipped with bookshelves where children’s books were made available. The teachers also took part in continuing education where they learned to, for instance, take into account and pay attention to different styles of learning as well as learning disabilities. According to the teachers, the motivation of the pupils increased thanks to the new teaching methods. The city of Maputo, the capital of Mozambique, has also expressed interest in this model.
The social and health care reform and student health care
The social and health care reform “Sote” has a significant bearing also on students. We are particularly interested in student health care and the future for the Finnish Student Health Service (FSHS). SYL is working hard to secure the status of the FSHS in the reform as well as for ensuring that FSHS in the future can provide good quality health care services to all higher education students in Finland. Legislation on this is being prepared as we speak, and this autumn we can expect negotiations and legislative processes on funding and freedom of choice.
Student financial aid and a basic income
The slashing of student financial aid will further weaken the social welfare for higher education students. During the mandate of this Government, cuts of more than 100 million euro will be implemented. The cuts directed at the student financial aid are now in the preparatory legislative process and will be sent for comments during summer. Moving students to be part of the general housing allowance is also being prepared.
SYL aims at ensuring a broad societal debate on student welfare. Our long term goal is an individual, common basic income for all, without any requirements for what one needs to do to receive it. We think it is important to include students in the basic income trial.