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Overnight Student Sit-in Ends at Helsinki University

A student sit-in at the administration building of the Helsinki University ended peacefully Friday morning.

Yliopiston hallintorakennuksen sisällä oli runsaasti opiskelijoita.
Image: YLE

The protestors held discussions with Helsinki University Chancellor Thomas Wilhelmsson about proposed regulatory reform, details of university legislation and the status of students.

Student representative Pijatta Heinonen said the talks were constructive and the goals of the sit-in were achieved.

The student body says it intends to follow the situation closely. However the demonstrators are not giving up the goal of buying more time to consider the proposed legal reforms before they are implemented. Another round of protest action is planned for March 13.

About 100 students occupied the university’s administration building from Thursday afternoon. About two dozen protesters remained until morning.

Nationwide Protests

The students had occupied the building as part of a nationwide wave of demonstrations protesting a slew of legislative reforms approved by government the same day.

A group of about 100 students took over the building during the afternoon, and remained on the first and fourth floor of the building located at Yliopistonkatu 4.

“We have had prolonged discussions with different working groups. We need more time before these laws go forward, and the right to discuss the matter, and not just with marginal groups,” said Heinonen.

The students believe that Thursday’s protest action, which also attracted staff members, was successful.

University students and faculty around the country held protests on Thursday over the timetable for university legislation reforms. Demonstrations were held in Helsinki, Turku, Tampere, Oulu, and Joensuu.

Parliament will soon consider a package of sweeping reforms to university legislation, but opponents say the proposals have been railroaded through too quickly. However, the government gave its approval to the reforms on Thursday.

Thousands have signed an internet petition to legislators demanding an extra year to plan reforms. Under the reform, half of university governing body members would be recruited externally in order to promote financial expertise. Opponents say institutional independence is threatened as a result and that universities will be forced into a more corporate orientation.

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