LYY expresses concern about the livelihood of students and opposes the government’s budget proposal to cut housing benefits and freeze the student financial aid index. The combined impact of these proposals on students’ everyday lives and finances is significant. Students are the largest group receiving housing allowance, and the government’s proposal would directly cut 12.5 % of housing allowance for full-time students, averaging 76 € per month. The index freeze, on the other hand, would reduce the basic security of students receiving financial aid by 31,70 € by 2027.
According to the 2021 High Education Student Health Study by the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare (THL), more than one-third of students experience clinically significant distress, which implies a need for assistance and treatment for mental health difficulties. Insufficient income and financial worries negatively impact well-being and increase the risk of mental health problems. While the government program includes positive mental health-related commitments, such as guarantee for immediate access to therapy for children and young people, insufficient resources have been allocated for prevention and mental health promotion.
Upcoming cuts are being compensated for by increasing the student loan guarantee, further increasing the debt burden on students. LYY believes that student financial aid should not become more loan-focused, and the level of student financial aid should enable a good and healthy life. Student loans should not be counted as income or social security since they must be repaid, and the interest rate on student loans is currently close to 5%.
LYY previously issued a statement in September reaffirming our commitment to anti-racism and human rights. LYY unequivocally condemns all forms of racism and discrimination in society and calls for active efforts to combat racism. LYY believes that tuition fees for students coming from non-EU and non-EEA countries should be abolished.
As part of its statutory mandate, the Student Union participates in fulfilling the educational mission of the university by preparing students for active, informed, and critical citizenship. LYY encourages all students to engage in societal impact. However, LYY was not involved in organizing the occupation of the University of Lapland; it was organized independently by the students.