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The story of Tuition Fees – How to gain a bit and lost more

Julia Litokorpi | 08.04.2015

Parliamentary Elections are coming and Finland’s economic situation is not in the best condition. When the parties are discussing about education and especially about higher education, we have a hot topic: tuition fees. Mostly the arguments for tuition fees are that we have to save money and free education for all is too expensive. I am not saying that our education is cheap, but we have to remember that there are various reasons why we need foreign students.

First of all, there is around 20 000 foreign students in Finland´s Universities. Around 15 000 of these come from non EU or EEA countries. [1] They are studying here for free, but they are not living, eating and travelling for free. They are not getting financial support from Finnish support systems at all. Actually, they are spending a lot of money, paying taxes if they are working, but not getting the same support such as student support money

These around 15 000 foreign students are bringing 90 000 000 euros to Finland every year. They are paying higher rents, they are travelling a lot and they spend lot of money in restaurants and bars. [2] There have been various researches in Sweden and Denmark and they all show that tuition fees will cause the situation, when international students are not willing to come and study in these countries. And that is a problem because in Finland we have a situation where a big amount of our population in working age will retire soon and we do not have enough people to replace them in labor markets. That is why we need international students who will study and stay after that in Finland.

Instead of tuition fees, we should improve our integration process. Then we should make sure that we have enough Finnish language teaching for foreigners. And after that we have to make sure that our international students know how to find a job or start their own company in Finland. These are all things that we do with our Finnish students as well. And until now we have been thinking that without perfect language skills our international students are able to do all that on their own. Half of our international students have a job in Finland after one year from their graduation. That is great. By improving a bit issues mentioned the number could be a lot higher.


[1] Faktaa Express 4a/2010 ”Mitä tiedämme ulkomaalaisten korkeakouluopiskelijoiden taloudellisista vaikutuksista”

[2] AYYn selvitys vuodelta 2011, oleskelu- ja opiskeluluvan saaminen edellyttää vähintään 6000 euron saldoa pankkitilillä.

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Julia Litokorpi