On 14th of December 2015 the government of Finland made the decision to require higher education institutions (HEIs) to introduce tuition fees for non-EU/EEA students. The amount that the HEI have to collect starts from 1500 euros per year, but institutes can choose to have higher fees. The HEIs can collect fees from the beginning of 2016, but must do so by 1.8.2017. The HEIs must have a scholarship scheme for non-EU/EEA students in place to be allowed to charge fees.
Rushing to introduce the tuition fees by autumn 2017, HEI have been undergoing construction of the tuition fee scheme and deciding on the tuition fee rates. The recent statements released by certain Universities suggest that tuition fees in Universities will range from 8000 to 25000 euros per year. In the case of Universities of Applied Sciences, only a few of the institutes have come out with a statement and the tuition fees seem to be in close range with those of Universities. There are also those HEI that want to remain international and are preparing to introduce the lowest amount required, creating a competition within the nation. The government has set no criteria on the scholarship schemes, so this gives institutes the opportunity to adjust it according to their own preferences.
SAMOK is concerned that the introduction of the tuition fees will risk increase of competition between institutes and cause for regional small-sized institutes to lose their international students and be forced to shut down international degree programs. The number of incoming international students will drop significantly and will also harm the internationalization of higher education, previously held in high importance. The most impact will be felt among students that come from developing countries as the price tag for education is climbing very high.
SAMOK is preparing a scholarship scheme guideline based on other countries to support the local unions is their advocacy work within their institutions. SAMOK and its stakeholders are trying to influence HEI to introduce a wide variety of scholarships, supporting students coming outside EU/EEA based on their needs and merit.
Written by Gramoz Shpendi (board member) and Pauliina Savola (adviser) from SAMOK.