The government has abandoned plans to introduce tuition fees for students from outside the European Economic Area studying courses taught in English at Finnish higher education institutions.
Fees of at least 4,000 euros would have been charged under the plans, but the government parties could not reach agreement on the issue after the proposal was sent out for consultation. Advocates claimed that fees could help Finland export education.
The plan had been promoted by some higher education institutions as well as the Federation of Finnish Enterprises and the Confederation of Finnish Industries among others. Student and lecturer unions opposed the plan.
"Tuition fees don’t work"
Swedish People’s Party leader and Defence Minister Carl Haglund said that there was no unanimity on the matter and that he personally was sceptical about the supposed benefits of charging for tuition.
“There are other ways to promote education exports,” said Haglund. “The Swedish model has shown that tuition fees don’t work. And we need international students in Finland. The problem has been employing them, but we won’t solve that by charging tuition fees.”
Just under half of all foreign students who study in Finland are working in the country a year after graduation.
Two MPs from the prime minister's National Coalition Party, Ben Zyskowicz and Sanna Lauslahti, released a statement criticising the decision.
"Why isn't money good enough for Finland?" asked the two legislators. "Should Finland be the whole world's free university? We're extremely disappointed by the government's decision."