The social democratic students in Finland – SONK and the Social Democratic students of Sweden – SSF are concerned about the recent trend of bringing tuition fees for students outside the EU/EEA region.
- As social democratic students we find this proposal unacceptable. Free education for all is the very foundation of our welfare states. Also, internationality is one of the core values of social democracy, emphasize the presidents of SONK and SFF.
In Sweden the consequences of the mentioned tuition fees are already visible. Not only has the administration bloated and the workload of the universities increased, but there has also been a major decrease in students applying outside the EU/EEA region. In 2011 when the reform was implemented by the right wing government the Higher Education report revealed a decrease on the number of incoming free movers – students travelling on their own and not through exchange programs – from 7 600 students in autumn 2010 to 1 600 in autumn 2011. The decline varies from 79 percent up to 90 percent depending on the university.
Shifting from no tuition fees at all to high tuition fees that may reach over 170 000 Swedish kronor (18 243 euro) per academic year has shown not to be sustainable but a threat on the important international mobility of students. The overall number of students outside the EU has decreased from 16 600 to 1 200. The decline of free mover students has also reduced the overall level of Swedish students since the class offerings have become fewer. This has also affected the recruitment basis of the postgraduate programs negatively which will have an impact on future research and innovation opportunities of Sweden. This will ultimately affect Sweden’s global competitiveness. The scholarship system offered today is not extensive enough to attract students and it has created elevated social bias in student recruitment.
- We are heading in the wrong direction and that’s why we need to continue fighting for free education for all students including those outside the EU, state the presidents of SFF and SONK.
By offering free education, Finland and Sweden can show that we hold education and research in high esteem. This may attract students who otherwise never would have had the chance to study. With free education comes a clear advantage over many other countries when attracting the best students from all around the world. The Finnish educational establishments don’t have to take the same missteps that Sweden took.
- Sweden is already having negative experiences with tuition fees but both Finland and Sweden are still seeking to push them forward. It makes no sense. Where is the insight?, ask the presidents.
Social Democratic Students in Finland - SONK
Social Democratic Students of Sweden - SSF
Sosialidemokraattiset Opiskelijat - SONK ry. http://www.sonk.fi/
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