The University of Turku will convene to discuss the need to update its coronavirus instructions on Wednesday, 11 August. (Vesa Moilanen – Lehtikuva)


MANY STUDENTS at Finnish universities have considered suspending their studies for a year if the autumn term begins in remote instruction, reveals the National Union of University Students in Finland (SYL).

“Loneliness is clearly the worst problem,” Annika Nevanpää, the board chairperson at SYL, stated to YLE on Monday.

“Under normal circumstances, students hang around on the campus and get support for their studies from peers. When studying remotely, it becomes significantly harder to manage your life and studies.”

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One such student is Santeri Harinko, a student of political science at the University of Turku. Harinko told YLE that he has begun looking for job openings and houses in other localities while considering moving temporarily away from Turku.

“University studies are completely wasted if they’re all about cramming books at home. I’ve yet to register as present at the university for this autumn, and I’m seriously considering taking a gap year,” he stated to the public broadcasting company.

He also voiced his frustration with the actions taken by the university in the exceptional circumstances.

“We get messages from the universities saying hang in there, but in my view students haven’t really been taken into consideration in other ways. There’s talk about mental health problems and the detrimental effect of the coronavirus, but nothing is actually being done,” he said. “It’s extremely difficult for many to study at home, including me.”

Finnish higher education institutions are allowed to decide themselves whether it is necessary to provide instruction remotely. The University of Turku is scheduled to convene to discuss the need to update its instructions in the prevalent epidemiological situation on Wednesday, 11 August.

Southwest Finland was ruled to have moved from the acceleration to the community transmission phase of the epidemic on 3 August.

Nevanpää of SYL told YLE that remote instruction is a cause for concern also for newly admitted students, with many of them weighing up turning down the acceptance if the school year starts in remote instruction.

The situation, she added, has kindled serious concerns at the student union.

“Malaise is on the rise, and we don’t even know yet how remote learning will affect learning directly. Studies have shown that we’ve been going downhill throughout the pandemic and it’ll only get worse unless we get back to in-person teaching or at least some kind of a hybrid arrangement,” she said.

Aleksi Teivainen – HT