Over half (119) of Finland’s 200 MPs are in favor of charging tuition fees to foreign students, according to YLE in English. The bill is being spearheaded by three parties known for their anti-immigration stances: National Coalition Party (37 MPs), Perussuomalaiset (39), and Center Party (29). Is the new bill a sign of how Finland is turning its back to the world?
You can read the original YLE in English news story here.
The bill is also supported to a lesser extent by MPs from the Social Democratic Party (7), Swedish People’s Party (4), Christian Democrats (2), and Left Wing Alliance (1).
”There is nothing new in charging tuition fees to foreign students,” said Migrant Tales’ associate editor JusticeDemon. ”The UK has been doing this for years, with many of its educational institutions now depending on attracting such students in order to stay afloat financially.”
JusticeDemon said that despite the tuition range from 3,500 to 12,000 euros per year, the higher figure is likely to become a norm for university courses. “Charging anything less than the maximum will suggest that the course is somehow of lower quality than a corresponding more expensive course at another institution,” he added.
Arto Satonen of the National Coalition Party, the MP who initiated the bill, believes that time is ripe to start charging foreign students tuition fees because most of them leave the country after they get their degrees.
”If you look at the numbers, then people from Asia or Russia or Ukraine, and when they get their degree they are going to work in the UK, USA, Australia and so on,” he said. ”So it actually happens that the Finnish taxpayers’ money we are actually educating workers for the Anglo-Saxon countries’ economies.”
Despite this view, one of the cornerstones of the Finnish immigration system until a few years ago was forcing foreign students to leave the country after they took a degree, according to JusticeDemon. Since we want these students to stay in Finland , it shows a shift in attitudes, which are welcome.
See JusticeDemon’s comment below.
PS MP Reijo Tossavainen says the bill is important because it would stop discrimination against Finnish students.
”One year costs per (foreign) student 8,000 euros and in university 10,000 euros,” he commented on a blog. ”One student during his whole stay at an institution of higher learning costs 30,000-50,000 euros. In a whole year Finland gives to foreign students altogether a 300 million euro present.”
Tossavainen is a well-known anti-immigration voice of the PS. He said in 2011 that Finland should close its doors to asylum seekers.
Marina Laminen, president of the National Union of University Students, believes that Finland hurting is itself if it starts charging foreign students tuition.
”I feel that it’s a real bad idea because in Finland we really need the international students, both as students and for the labor market,” she told YLE. ”It’s been proven that the number of international students is not getting any better but will get worse with tuition fees.”