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Thursday's papers: Finnish transport app hackathon, studying abroad grows, poll finds conservative Finns

Thursday's press featured coverage of Helsinki transport and other officials at a hackathon designed to create a single app that would put the entirety of Finland's public transport systems at users' fingertips. Another paper says students from Finland are increasingly leaving the country to study. Another newspaper reports on a broad-reaching opinion poll which found that Finns are a bit conservative.

Image: Yle

The Finnish state rail company VR held a panel discussion which was open to the public at Helsinki Central railway station on Wednesday. It's all part of a hackathon which VR has organised to find a new partner company to help create a more modern and efficient digitally-based public transport system, according to HBL.

A dozen companies have already been chosen from more than 100 firms that applied to create future technologies.

Those 12 firms will now compete for the chance to work on a project that VR has dubbed "travel links." The paper writes that in the future, a commuter would only need to enter a departure point and destination into a computer or mobile device and the application would take care of the rest; either in the form of public transport, bicycles or even the ride-hailing services which have increasingly appeared on Finnish roads recently, the paper writes.

The city's deputy mayor Pekka Sauri was also on hand at the panel discussion, who said that Helsinki - using EU resources - is currently investigating whether a tunnel between Helsinki and Tallinn, Estonia would be a realistic project, according to the paper.

"Today, Finland is like an island, we are in the periphery among other EU member nations," Sauri said. "A train tunnel would revolutionise rail transport from Finland, one could take the Rail Baltica train all the way to Poland or Berlin," he said.

Maisa Romanainen, director of VR's passenger traffic, said the hackathon is a completely new concept for the company.

"We wanted to formally tell startup companies that we're open to cooperation," Romanainen said. "That's why a  hackathon felt natural, since they are open and public. We chose to hold the hackathon in the middle of the Helsinki railway station, because it is a very visible space."

Overseas students almost double in decade

In the past ten years the number of Finnish students studying abroad has nearly doubled, according to Helsingin Sanomat. During the current academic year (2015-2016), around 8,000 students from Finland receive student aid to study at universities in other countries.

Currently the most popular destination for travelling academic Finns is neighbouring Sweden, but a close second is the UK. In third place is Estonia, the paper writes.

HS spoke to one student, 22-year-old Venla Rantanen, who decided to stay in Estonia after spending a gap year in the neighbouring country as an au pair for a German family in the capital Tallinn.

During that time she decided to apply and was accepted to the University of Tallinn's liberal arts and humanities programme.

Rantanen, who said she receives some 300 euros per month in Finnish student aid, also works as a nanny and translator in-between her studies.

She said she doesn't have plans to move back to Finland any time soon and that in the future she will likely be self-employed.

Reader's Digest poll finds strong, conservative opinions

It may be considered by some as an antiquated magazine, but in Finland Valitut Palat (Reader's Digest) is read by young and old alike.

The publication, along with the help of the British research agency Wyman Dillon, conducted a broad opinion poll in Finland at the start of the year. The results were detailed by Ilta-Sanomat and the survey found that - at least according to the 1,967 people in Finland that they polled - Finns have some very strong and conservative opinions about a myriad of topics.

The publication's chief editor Ilkka Virtanen told Ilta-Sanomat that the survey reflects Finnish opinion quite well, saying that Valitut Palat is a very generalised magazine and that their reader base comes from a broad variety of political affiliations.

The most agreed-upon topic was that most respondents think there are problems in Finnish classrooms. A full 89 percent of respondents said that teachers' disciplinary rights should be increased.

Eighty five percent said Finland should abolish the use of daylight saving clock changes twice a year.

On the topic of politics, 78 percent of respondents said the number of Finnish MPs should be cut in half. Seventy one percent said abuse of social services was common.

Sixty four percent said the current drink driving level of 0.5 per mille blood alcohol ratio should be brought down to zero.

And 54 percent said they thought Russia is a threat to Finland.

You can read more of the results here (in Finnish).

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