Cancelling of benefits hurts subsistence of Russian students in Lapua
“There is not enough money to even cover a rail ticket back to Russia”
A dumbfounded group of Russian students does not understand why the Seinäjoki Joint Municipal Authority for Education SEDU has announced that it will not continue paying the previously agreed benefits.
Director Reija Lepola of SEDU’s Lapua Unit has announced that the special privileges of Russian students, such as a EUR 80 monthly allowance, free accommodation, and an added meal service, will now be withdrawn.
Lepola refers to the equality of students and a report ordered from the Ministry of Education when justifying the cancelling of the written agreements.
Russian students are not entitled to the government financial aid and housing allowances that are paid to Finnish students.
“We have written contracts concerning education and the related benefits. They are part of our education project”, the Russian students explain.
The recession has caused those students who also worked part-time to lose their jobs, and the monthly allowances for March have already been spent.
The news of the cancellation of April’s allowance was not received with delight.
The monthly allowance is not enough to even cover a rail ticket back to Russia, the students know.
A promise has been made to discuss every student’s case individually.
“Our signatures were collected on a list that will clarify whose survival absolutely depends on the monthly allowance. However, many of us are currently carrying out work training and those individuals may now be left without benefits”, the student group worries.
For example, a vocational institute called Härmänmaan ammatti-instituutti HAMI, which joined SEDU at the turn of the year, actively invited Russian students to Lapua to respond to the area’s severe labour shortage.
A written contract was signed with every student, in which the institute committed itself to paying the itemised benefits.
The Kauhava and Lapua city managers Harri Mattila and Paavo Latva-Rasku cannot accept the logic behind the cancelling of the contracts.
Principal Jaakko Ketola, who signed the contracts on behalf of Härmänmaan ammatti-instituutti HAMI, sees he is morally responsible for the breach of contract with the Russian students by the new umbrella organisation SEDU. Even the Lapua Parish of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland has emerged as a defender of the rights of the students.
The students dread the idea of having to discontinue their studies. “Some of us have six months left, others two years. Without the benefits, how can we continue studying?”
“So far we have sent letters to Prime Minister Matti Vanhanen, the Finnish Parliament, and the Ministry of Education”, explain students Olga Koltsova and Ksenia Gribanova.
In Finland there are around 3,500 secondary level students from Russia.
The Finnish polytechnics, in turn, have in excess of 5,000 Russian students.
At the turn of the millennium Russian and Estonian students were sought because of labour shortages in certain fields, such as agriculture and the fur industry, and also because of a shortage of students enrolling in certain vocational institutes.
In recruiting Russian students, the educational unit is committed to providing special benefits that will guarantee the students’ subsistence.
The contents of such contracts vary considerably from one educational institute to another.
Previously in HS International Edition:
Tuition fees for foreign students to be introduced on trial basis in 2010 (15.8.2008)