Students continue to struggle with housing costs. But will this change anytime soon?

YOUR years as a student undoubtedly represent some of the best moments of your life. Fresh out of home, away from the grasp of your parents, you are now free to do whatever you desire. Gone is the nagging, the hassling and the moral compass, and in their place is the time and space to rack up a bunch of knowledge related to life’s lessons. For the overwhelming majority, this means living on the bare minimum, heating up one-minute noodles and spending everything else on beer and entertainment.

Unsurprisingly, students continue to struggle with the cost of housing while studying. A closer look reveals just how much, however. Helsinki Times recently published an article that outlined that the housing supplement for students disbursed by the Social Insurance Institution of Finland (Kela) is not nearly enough to cover students’ housing costs – especially in the Capital Region. As a result, nearly two-thirds of students are forced to fend for themselves and search for a flat from the pricey private rental market.

Simply put: they barely have the funds to support this, if at all. Although the rents of studios have increased by an average of 23 per cent this decade, the amount of the housing supplement has remained virtually unchanged during this time. Currently students are entitled to up to 201 euros per month.

Although the general housing allowance is set to increase at the turn of the year, the housing supplement for students is in a state of deep freeze (how appropriate, given the climate), and will once again remain unchanged. Several managing directors of student housing foundations have expressed their concerns about the situation, hoping to push the supplement up to somewhere in the vicinity of 300 euros.

Regina Ollila, a benefits manager at Kela, is similarly in favour of increasing the housing supplement for students. “High housing costs force many to work and may prolong study times,” she is quoted as saying in the article.

Kela believes that a single housing allowance intended for all citizens represents the best solution to this problem and has informed ministries of such.

Nonetheless, the issue of student housing is one that always comes up this time of year for similar reasons each time. Thus, it remains to be seen if domiciles will become any more affordable in future.

James O’Sullivan