The Finnish Student Health and Wellbeing Survey (KOTT), sent every four years, will be conducted this year, one year later than normally. This survey will be conducted this spring instead of spring 2020 because of the Corona virus epidemic. Thus, the possible effects of the Corona virus to students’ health and well-being are being researched this time. Research carried out in cooperation with KELA and THL, previously the implementation of the research has been responsible for FSHS.
Already a year ago I was waiting impatiently for a new KOTT survey as many remarkable events have happened during the last four years that cannot be captured to the same extent by other means than with the data that is gathered with the KOTT survey.
KOTT has been conducted in years 2000, 2004, 2008, 2012 and 2016. The survey investigates higher education students’ living conditions, livelihood, social well-being, lifestyle factors, health status and the ability to study. Based on the study it is possible to compare what kinds of changes have occurred during the years and to what direction are the different trends going. The study can also mirror the effects of political decision making. Especially during the last four years Finland’s policy realm has chastised students’ livelihood harshly and increased the efficiency demands when it comes to studying. Comparing these results for example to the data from the first KOTT survey is very interesting.
What Things Have Arisen from the Previous Surveys and What Can be Inferred from Them?
According to KOTT, students’ living costs have risen 20 % between the years 2000 and 2016. The reason for this might be the decreased number of shared flats and students being able to get a housing benefit. The general housing allowance has made it possible for students to get wider change of moving into private sector apartments but on the other hand, rental prizes in studio apartments have risen in bigger cities. Between the years 2012 and 2016 the rise has been 10 %.
Students’ experience about the inadequacy of their livelihood have risen steadily between the years 2000 and 2016. Now, after the year 2016, many changes to students’ livelihood have occurred so it is interesting to see how these changes affect this experience.
When it comes to students’ social well-being, have loneliness and lack of social support arisen. During the years of 2012-2021, higher education institutions and different projects have been working in order to make end to the rise. It is, thus, intriguing to see how this have been able to respond to these issues for example here in Jyväskylä.
According to the study, students’ depression and anxiety symptoms and sleeping problems have also been in worrying rise during the years of the KOTT research. On one hand, the increase in mental symptoms can be explained by increased discussion in mental health problems and the work aimed at decreasing the stigma around mental health issues. Even though more open discussion environment about mental health issues would have contributed to these numbers it does not delete the problem that we are currently facing. The young feel more unwell than before and there must be a reason for it. Preventive actions are necessary and that needs multifaceted inspection. Many factors that measure the ability to study have also been challenging students during the years of the research.
KOTT produces extremely important information about the welfare of the students. The survey also reflects future employees’ well-being and work ability – study ability is students’ work ability. If you have had the request to take part of the study, please do so, as we can get the most up-to-date and comprehensive information on how the students in higher education in Finland feel!
The writer is Juulia Saukkonen, Specialist in Social Affairs in JYY
+358 50 307 0540
Why is The Finnish Student Health and Wellbeing Survey (KOTT) conducted and what are the results used for?