Application periods for the academic year 2018-2019 in the international degree programmes are currently open. Therefore, discussion about the consequences of the tuition fees should be raised again.
The non-EU/EEA students who started their studies in the autumn 2017 must have paid their studies themselves or with a scholarship (University Act 1600/2015). The tuition fees vary in the University of Turku depending on the programme between 8,000 and 16,000 euros. Only about 30 per cent of the non-EU/EEA students were awarded with a scholarship of the University of Turku, which freed them from all or half of the fees. In order to get the scholarship for another year, the student must complete at least 55 credits during the academic year.
It was hoped that tuition fees would facilitate education exports and bring additional income to the higher education institutions. However, the introduction of fees has been challenging: the number of applicants fell. In the autumn 2017, only a handful of paying students arrived in the University of Turku. As a result, fewer students from non-EU/EEA countries were starting in the international programmes. The scholarship did not guarantee the acceptance of the study place. All the recipients of the scholarship did not come at all but could have instead accepted the study place somewhere else.
Compared to other Finnish higher education institutions, the scholarships of the University of Turku are not the most competitive ones. In some of the HEI’s, the scholarship was awarded to more than 30% of the non-EU/EEA students and in addition, there were also scholarships for the living costs, those that are not available in the University of Turku. The tuition fees and the scholarships have increased the workload of the administration, as the programmes must be marketed more actively and students have to be treated more like customers: every query can be a potential "trade". As opposed to the expectations of the supporters of the tuition fees, the fees have both decreased the number of students and also produced additional costs for the higher education institutions.
The working group under the Ministry of Education and Culture will monitor the impact of tuition fees during 2017-2020 and collect information on fees and scholarships. We hope that universities are critical when evaluating how much administrative staff spend working hours on tasks related to tuition fees. "Exercise Round" like Riitta Pyykö, The vice rector of the University of Turku, named introduction of fees this autumn (Helsingin Sanomat 6.10), is soon over. It would be a serious question to ask whether the current scholarships are sufficient to keep the University of Turku among the international higher education institutions in the future, and on the other hand, whether the tuition fees make sense at all.
Chair of the Executive Board
Member of the Executive Board, International Affairs
The Student Union of the University of Turku