THE PLAN to introduce tuition fees for foreign students would not yield the projected savings, five student unions argue. Instead, the tuition fees would represent a step in the wrong direction for Finland in light of its internationalisation objectives.

Helsingin Sanomat wrote last week that the Government is poised to mull over the adoption of tuition fees for students from outside the European Economic Area (EEA) in a bid not only to generate revenue but also to create savings by limiting the inflow of students from non-EEA countries.

The projected savings have been rebutted by the student unions – the Union of Vocational Students of Finland (Sakki), the Union of Finnish Upper Secondary School Students, the Finnish Student Alliance, the Union of Students in Finnish Universities of Applied Sciences (Samok) and the National Union of University Students in Finland (SYL).

"The Ministry of Finance is mistaken in envisioning that the fees will create savings. The fees will drive away students, while in fact the students generate millions in revenue through their consumption here. With the tuition fees, the revenue from education exports will die down," state Piia Kuosmanen and Aleksej Fedotov, the chairpersons of SYL and Sakki respectively, in a bulletin.

In addition, the student unions are afraid the tuition fees could inhibit the development of Finland and the internationalisation of its universities.

"The fees would drive away students from outside the EEA from smaller universities, leaving the universities with notably different preconditions for internationalisation. Is that really the intention?" asks Toni Asikainen, the chairperson of Samok.

Aleksi Teivainen – HT