International students in Finland face potential tuition fee hike

International students in Finland face potential tuition fee hike Education Beyond Borders Podcast

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27-JUN-2023 | Finland’s new government has announced plans to increase tuition fees for international students studying in the country’s universities. Under the new policies, non-European Union students will have to cover the full cost of their education as the government will no longer provide funding for teaching international students.

Currently, international students pay a minimum of €4,000 in tuition fees, but this amount may rise under the new measures. The government document outlining the policy did not specify when the changes would take effect. The Ministry of Education, which proposed the policy earlier this year, expects a 43% decrease in the number of students from outside the EU as a result.

This decision has faced opposition from student groups and some universities. SYL, one of the student unions in the country, criticized the initial proposals, stating that it would hinder Finland’s goal of tripling the number of international students by 2030. They believe that offering free education to all promotes integration and equality among students.

Higher education will remain free for Finnish and EU students, but there are concerns that this policy change could pave the way for the introduction of tuition fees for domestic students in the future.

Finland introduced tuition fees for international students in 2017, but despite this, the number of foreign students in the country has continued to rise. The introduction of a two-year post-study work visa in 2022 and the Talent Boost program launched in 2017 by the previous government have attracted students to Finland.

The new government, elected earlier this year, has emphasized a “controlled” approach to education-based immigration. They plan to restrict students and international graduates from claiming state benefits. Residence permits may be revoked if students seek social assistance, and language tests and proof of unemployment benefit claims will be required for those applying for permanent residency.

However, the government also intends to introduce incentives for students to stay and work in Finland after completing their studies. They propose granting permanent residence permits to those who have completed a master’s degree in Finland and have a good command of Finnish or Swedish.

In related news, Norway has recently announced its own plans to introduce tuition fees for non-EU students.

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