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Social Affairs Minister: Is Finland Educating Too Many Foreigners?

Educating foreigners could come at the expense of educating Finnish youth, according to Minister of Social Affairs and Health Liisa Hyssälä. However the Education Minister refutes the claim.

Liisa Hyssälä
Image: YLE

In the Centre Party’s online publication Verkkoapila on Wednesday, Hyssälä poses the question, is Finland accepting too many foreign students to its universities and polytechnic schools?

Hyssälä says she is concerned about the displacement of Finnish youth, and does not want them to lose study spots to foreigners. Hyssälä adds that unemployed Finnish youth wandering the streets should begin to study.

She notes that some 15,000 foreigners study at universities and polytechnics in Finland. Meanwhile, 4,000 Finns who receive the Finnish state study grant study abroad. The Ministry of Education does not keep track of how many Finns who do not receive the grant are educated abroad.

In Hyssälä’s opinion, however, the numbers are disproportionate. She says government should discuss the issue.

Education Minister Dismisses Hyssälä's Remarks

Minister of Education Henna Virkkunen of the National Coalition Party dismisses Hyssälä's concern. In an interview with MTV3 News on Wednesday, she pointed out that 1,500 places at institutes of higher education remained unfilled this year. Foreigners fill many of these vacant spots in areas of study that simply do not interest Finns, says Virkkunen.

The Minister of Education is officially responsible for balancing the number of foreign and Finnish students. Meanwhile, the Finnish government has long stressed the need for more foreign workers in Finland to deal with the country’s aging population.

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