Cuts in health funding for postgraduate students at Finnish universities have infuriated students. The reduction in health care services implemented by Ylioppilaiden Terveydenhoitosäätio (YTHS) has seen an angry response issued by the Tsemppi organisation for International Degree Students at the University of Helsinki. With very little information having been issued in English concerning the YTHS changes, many foreign students are unaware of their effects.

“To my knowledge, the decision was influenced by the low number of postgraduate students who applied for membership in their local student unions,” Tsemppi’s Giuseppe Lugano fumes to SixDegrees. “Unlike with undergraduates, postgraduate membership of student unions is not mandatory. The lack of demand for membership was probably interpreted as a low need for the services available to postgraduate students that membership offered.”

The adjustments mean that postgraduate students are essentially excluded from all the services enjoyed by undergraduates. For YTHS it is a matter of economics, as postgraduates represent a disproportionately high cost. For Tsemppi, the financial emphasis is missing the point.

“System efficiency is not everything,” argues Lugano. “If Finland really wants to implement an information society with ‘a human face’, citizens should no longer be characterised only in economic terms but also considering their human traits. By applying this perspective, postgraduate students would not be treated only as costs.”

Pragmatic solutions are suggested by Tsemppi, such as introducing compulsory union fees or implementing a group insurance scheme.

Nick Barlow