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Student group blasts tuition fee plan

Another organisation has joined criticism of the government’s proposal to impose tuition fees on tertiary students from outside the European Economic Area.

Mikkelin ammattikorkeakoulun Kasarmin Kampuksen kyltti.
The Mikkeli University of Applied Sciences lies some 250 km north-east of Helsinki. Image: YLE / Etelä-Savo

The Student Union of Mikkeli University of Applied Sciences (MAMOK) on Monday condemned the government’s plan to begin charging tuition for foreign university-level students from outside the European Union or European Economic Area.

In a statement, the Eastern Finland student group asserted that “tuition fees will not attract anyone to the dark and cold North”. Rather, MAMOK argues, international students boost international networking and even trade.

In late October, the Stubb cabinet proposed tuition fees of at least 4,000 euros annually for degree programmes, to be instituted in 2016. The fee would not apply to exchange students, those taking courses in the Finnish or Swedish language, or those from the 30 EU/EEA countries. The proposal is now being circulated for comment among officials.

Unions, parties dismiss plan

The idea has already been rejected by groups such as the Finnish Union of University Researchers and Teachers (FUURT) and the separate Union for University Teachers and Researchers in Finland (YLL), as well as the opposition Left Alliance and Green League parties.

According to MAMOK, the fees would not advance Finland’s national economy or the attractiveness of its institutes of higher learning. Instead, it would increase inequality among tertiary education institutions and their students.

MAMOK cites a recent study that suggests that an international degree student can bring as much as 200,000 euros in net benefit to Finland’s public economy.

Finland is one of four European countries that do not charge tuition fees, along with Norway, Iceland and Germany.

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