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Tuesday’s papers: Tougher student life, illegal English signs, and a window-washing statue

A heated debate on student livelihood, 'No Drone Zone' signs incite complaints, and Bad Bad Boy assists police.

Nuori seisoo rappukäytävässä.
Helsingin Sanomat examines if life for students in Finland is tougher than ever before. Image: Eija Kontio / Lehtikuva

Daily Helsingin Sanomat asks and attempts to answer a question that was the subject of intense discussion on social media in Finland this past weekend: is student life harder than ever before?

According to HS, the online debate ignited when a statement last week from the Finnish Student Union queried why students were the only members of society not entitled to a proper rest or holiday pay.

Responses to the statement varied, HS reports, from those who argued that student life is tougher than it ever has been, to those who believed modern students don’t know how lucky they are.

The paper cites a 2016 survey of students conducted by Finland’s Student Health Care Foundation (YTHS) which found that a growing number of students reported feeling their living situations were very limited and uncertain, with over 50 per cent spending more than half their income on housing.

The article further outlines that, in Finland, a university student is entitled to a study grant of 250.28 euros per month. In addition, the student can raise a student loan of EUR 650 per month and receive a general housing allowance.

“If a student takes advantage of a student loan, the student's income is generally higher than ever in the 50-year history of the student support system,” HS quotes Responsibility Planner Ilpo Lahtinen from Social Insurance Institution Kela's study support group as saying.

No English, please

Turku daily Turun Sanomat reports that signs written in English only have been deemed illegal and must be replaced, after complaints were made to the Parliamentary Ombudsman. However, adding both Finnish and Swedish to the signs may leave no room for the original English.

The signs, which appeared in parts of Helsinki and in the southern coastal town of Naantali, informed people that the areas were “No Drone Zones” and the use of English only was justified by the fact that the areas were popular with tourists, the paper reports.

An investigation by Ombudsman Petri Jääskeläinen ruled that the signs were in breach of Finland’s Language Act, which states that official communications must be made primarily in Finnish and Swedish. The ruling further found that symbol notifying a drone ban accompanied by English language text would not necessarily be understood by a person who does not know what a drone is, or does not speak English.

However, fitting all three languages onto the sign is proving a challenge, and Turun Sanomat quotes Jukka Hannola of the Finnish Transport and Communications Agency (Traficom, formerly Trafi) as saying that the English text may have to be sacrificed.

“Of course, all three languages are the goal, but the signs are different sizes. If the font size would become unreasonably small, we will have to be satisfied with just Finnish and Swedish,” Hannola tells the paper.

'Bad Bad Boy' helps police

Tabloid daily Iltalehti reports of the surprising scene that greeted a shopper in Helsinki, when she stumbled upon a police car getting a “shower” from an eight metre high statue in the Helsinki district of Jätkäsaari.

The concrete statue, entitled ‘Bad Bad Boy’, is a water fountain built to give the impression of a young boy ‘urinating’, which the enterprising police used to clean their windscreen - as can be viewed from the video accompanying the article.

The art piece was designed by Finnish sculptor Tommi Toija and previously stood at Helsinki’s Market Square before being moved to Jätkäsaari in 2015. The water within the sculpture is heated, and can therefore be used to clean windscreens even in the cold depths of winter, Iltalehti reports.

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