Statement: Studying is easier when you have a home

Adequate and stable income for students is the basis for their wellbeing and ability to study, so the Student Union JYY considers the changes to the general housing allowance that will come into effect on 1 April to be harmful to students’ everyday lives. The general housing allowance and student grant must together be at a level high enough for a sufficient life. They should enable full-time study in different life situations and financial circumstances, without the need for taking out loans or working. The housing allowance, together with the student financial aid, must be sufficient regardless of residence and type of housing.

‘The general housing allowance will see changes this year, most of which will come into effect on 1 April. The impact of the cuts will be felt by students when the housing allowance is reviewed next time. While the transfer of students under the general housing allowance in August 2017 was a positive change, with the Orpo government cutting this universal form of support, students will suffer these huge cuts too’, reminds Eetu Aalto, the board member for social affairs.

In addition to raising the level of general housing allowance, more students should have access to affordable student housing. Construction in Finland is at its lowest level in over 70 years, which will undoubtedly have a direct and indirect impact on student housing in the near future. Jyväskylä already has fewer student apartments than other university cities in relation to the number of students. The Orpo government’s plans to drastically cut investment subsidies for special-needs groups have exacerbated the situation. The cuts would put new student housing projects on hold for years and some projects have already been cancelled as a result of the government programme.

‘Housing is one of the backbones of everyday life, providing a foundation and security for students’ daily lives, allowing them to concentrate on their studies. However, the cuts to the housing allowance are adding uncertainty and insecurity to the daily lives of students. JYY is very concerned about how students’ everyday security is being further weakened in a situation where student grants are also being cut and student financial aid is becoming more loan-oriented. The trend where individuals are increasingly expected to pay for their own education does not support the government’s goal of raising the educational level of young people’, outlines Akseli Immonen, the chair of JYY’s board.

JYY demands action to secure students’ everyday lives now and in the future. The government must show respect for students in higher education and recognise the impact that its decisions have on the daily lives of students. This must be reflected in the forthcoming session on spending limits. Parliamentarily, solutions must be found to safeguard students’ everyday lives in the future. JYY also expects the City of Jyväskylä to react to changes in students’ livelihoods by supporting welfare and cultural services that support everyday life and by increasing and developing its social housing production.