A survey conducted by the Student Union of the University of Jyväskylä (JYY) shows that students regularly use services provided by the city of Jyväskylä. The survey also highlights that affordable service fees are a prerequisite for many students to access these services. JYY demands that students be taken into consideration in the city’s austerity measures.
In June, the Student Union of the University of Jyväskylä (JYY) conducted a survey aimed at students to assess the need for city services among the student population. The purpose of the survey was to identify key service areas important to students and gather information about their service needs as part of JYY’s advocacy work. Due to the significant need for the city of Jyväskylä to cut its expenditures, JYY is concerned about the impact of these cuts on students.
A total of 505 students responded to the survey. The survey was directed at members of both JYY and JAMKOn (Jyväskylä University of Applied Sciences Student Union).
According to the survey, public transportation, library services, and sports facilities were the most frequently used city service categories, with students reporting usage at least on a monthly basis. Fewer students indicated using basic education or daycare services. Among students with families (five percent of respondents), these services were considered essential and a key prerequisite for their studies.
Jyväskylä city is making significant adjustments to its budget within a two-year timeframe. These adjustments involve cuts to basic services and increases in service fees. JYY is concerned that these measures will disproportionately affect students, who are a major user group and heavily reliant on the city’s service offerings.
“Almost one in three residents of Jyväskylä is a student. Students are, due to their limited income and life situation, heavily dependent on city services and reduced service fees in various areas such as public transportation,” says Nuutti Ruotsalainen, the board member of JYY responsible of municipal politics and advocacy.
According to the JYY survey, a significant portion of students would significantly reduce or completely stop using many services if, for example, student-priced service fees for public services were eliminated. 44.4% of respondents would significantly reduce their use of public transportation, and 13.3% would completely stop using buses if student-priced ticket types were discontinued.
“The survey results especially indicate that price increases have a negative impact on service usage. Student income is typically low and relies on study benefits and debt. This financial issue is not alleviated by the significant cuts to general housing allowance outlined in the government program. Therefore, service fee increases directly affect the already modest income of students,” Ruotsalainen explains.
The service cuts would most severely affect students who use sports facilities. 65.1% of respondents said they would significantly reduce or completely stop going to sports facilities if student-priced ticket types were eliminated. According to the survey, one in five respondents would completely stop using sports services.
“It would be extremely concerning if support for student sports were cut during this time of general uncertainty. The importance of sports for well-being, daily coping, and academic well-being is undeniable,” says Karri Kekkonen, JYY’s Specialist in Social Affairs.
Kekkonen is concerned that during a period of general uncertainty, services that enhance and maintain the resilience of students, as well as other residents, would be cut. As a city known for its commitment to sports, we have knowledge and expertise that should also be reflected in decisions regarding sports services. “The physical, psychological, and social benefits of sports are worthwhile investments now and in the future,” Kekkonen states.
JYY demands that students be recognized as an exceptionally large resident group as part of the city’s efforts to balance its budget. While acknowledging the challenges of enonomical situation, JYY calls for the recognition of the crucial role that services play for the student city in decision-making.