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Wednesday's papers: Activation model cost, lifelong learning and Interrail applications

Papers on Wednesday report on the cost of cuts to unemployment benefits, a drive to promote short, free university courses and the chance of free rail passes.

Nainen nousee rinkka selässään junaan Saksassa.
Interrailing will be much cheaper for some 15,000 European youth this year. Image: AOP

Aamulehti carries a story about the impact of the so-called 'activation model' on the cost of state income support. To recap: the activation model cuts benefits for unemployed people if they don't meet certain stringent criteria for effectively searching for jobs, but has been criticised as bureaucratic and unfair for penalising many people who were active in ways the rules do not recognise.

A citizens' initiative demanding it be repealed quickly gathered the required signatures and will now be considered by parliament. AL looks at the human cost, meanwhile, using figures on income support spending.

The activation model cuts, which started in April of this year, apparently caused a 1.2 million euro uptick in spending on income support, as people had to plug the holes in their finances to meet basic requirements. Income support is the welfare state's tool for that, allowing people to apply for money to meet their basic needs if they have no other way of funding them.

Despite the rise in spending on income support, AL says the government's estimated savings of 49 million euros per year on total benefit payments look to be in the correct range.

University courses for free

Helsingin Sanomat reports on the Education Ministry's decision to hand over 3.3 million euros a year to higher education institutions to provide 'express' courses free of charge for anyone to join.

The 16 courses are part of Finland's drive to encourage 'lifelong learning', according to Maija Innola from the ministry.

"This is part of the trend towards continuous learning," said Innola. "It's not enough any more that you do one degree when you're young, but rather your skills should be maintained and improved afterwards too."

Last month Helsinki University launched a free online artificial intelligence course available in English to anyone on the planet.

Interrail applications

HS also runs a story marking the opening of applications for the European Union's campaign to provide 15,000 youngsters with free Interrail tickets this summer.

Finland has an allocation of 161 tickets to distribute, and this year's lot are open to people born between 2.7.1999 and 1.7.2000. The EU hopes young people will document their trips on social media, and teenagers can submit their applications via the Discover EU website from 12 noon on 13 June.

Successful applicants will get a free Interrail ticket but will have to meet the cost of accommodation and other expenses out of their own pockets. The tickets offer free or reduced price rail travel across Europe for up to 30 days.

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