SITRA calls for fees on university studies
Fund wants to keep Finland among top countries in innovation
The Finnish National Fund for Research and Development (SITRA) issued a report on Wednesday calling for the imposition of fees on university studies in Finland.
According to the proposal, fees would be paid at first by students coming from outside the European Union. They would later become mandatory for all university students.
The group of experts working on the report said that the impact of the fees could be offset by student vouchers and a scholarship system.
A state working group is already preparing a proposal to impose fees on students outside the EU, which means that the proposal in the report, on making Finland "a leading country in innovation", is not unique.
One of the members of the working group, Markku Linna, a top civil servant at the Ministry of Education, says that imposing fees on Finnish students is "a more difficult question", and he does not expect it to move forward politically.
University of Oulu Rector Lauri Lajunen says that the issue of fees for students "must not be taboo". He noted that the Nordic Countries are getting to be the only ones where there are no fees.
While he feels that imposing fees on Finnish students would "cause more harm than good" at this point, he said that having foreign students from outside the EU pay fees would give universities more possibilities to develop their teaching offered in the English language.
One year of studies at the University of Oulu costs the university an average EUR 10,000. Lajunen would not ask the foreign students to pay all of the costs, but he feels that tuition fees would bring in thousands of euros a year.
In addition to proposing fees for university studies, the working group called for establishing 5 - 10 university units out of Finland's present universities as a way of rationalising administrative resources.
The group stopped short of calling for actual mergers of universities, saying that this would put the universities into a defensive position.
The working group also called for shifting Finland's polytechnics from municipal to state administration.
SITRA, the Finnish National Fund for Research and Development