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Finnish Universities and Students Express Concern Over Proposed Budget Plans

by Gurseet Singh
3 minutes read

FiNT: Sari Multala, the Minister of Science and Culture in Finland, has recently stated that it is too early to determine how much of the newly proposed budget of €280 million for research, development, and innovation will be directed towards universities. This announcement came during a press conference before the ruling parties’ inaugural budget session in Helsinki on September 19, 2023.

Key Points:

  1. The proposed budget of €280 million is dedicated to research, development, and innovation, but the allotment for universities remains uncertain.
  2. Multala explains that this uncertainty is due to a substantial portion of the funding going through competitive financing at the Academy of Finland and Business Finland. Universities can receive funding through both.
  3. Finnish universities have expressed concern about most funds being directed to companies primarily through Business Finland.
  4. The budget draft of €87.9 billion includes €40 million for a new pilot program designed to produce 1,000 new doctorate-degree holders in three to four years, €41 million for increasing student intake at universities, and €40 million for expanding the flagship program of the Academy of Finland.
  5. Contrarily, according to the government program, funding for universities will decrease by 7 million euros, with universities of applied sciences suffering a decline of €12 million.
  6. The government attributes the budget cuts to increased student fees at open universities and outside the E.U. and EEA. They believe the raised prices will generate revenue for universities, offsetting the state funding cuts.
  7. For the entirety of the electoral term, a freeze on the cost-of-living increases in student financial aid has been imposed, potentially saving up to €300 million.
  8. Despite the freeze, Prime Minister Petteri Orpo assures that student financial aid will remain unaffected. The government also intends to reform student financial aid to ensure students’ livelihood and encourage the timely completion of their studies.
  9. Minister of Social Security Sanni Grahn-Laasonen cautions that the cost savings are especially crucial for younger generations due to the rapid accrual of government debt.
  10. The newly imposed financial freeze applies to multiple areas, including unemployment security, labor market subsidy, basic daily allowance, and housing allowance. However, it does not apply to pensions, income assistance, or disability benefits.
In light of the fast-growing government debt and provided budget allocations, Minister Multala emphasizes the government’s decision to invest in the quality of education at all levels. The ambiguity surrounding the university sector’s budget share has raised concerns among Finnish universities, but the final figures remain to be seen.

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