As an art student, how will the government’s policy proposal affect you the most?
Currently I am a bachelor’s student and soon to be studying for a Masters. There are a few ways that I can see the government’s policy affecting me. For one, I reckon there will be a reduction in international students and international community in Finland. This is harder to see exactly how it will affect me. Internationalism brings alternative perspectives, different kinds of art, new ideas and simply people. These people and knowledge will be absent from my life and University.
I am a second-year bachelor’s student in the Fine Arts program. I am concerned about the future grant system and the diversity of the Finnish art scene. I worry that there might be a significant reduction in funding. As both an artist and an art student, I am eager to be able to afford necessities such as food, rent, and art materials without solely relying on part-time jobs after graduation. Additionally, it is crucial for there to exist a diverse community encompassing various backgrounds, languages, and nationalities. This diversity fosters the potential for a wide array of meaningful conversations to take place.
Many of my friends from outside the EU who have graduated from Uniarts have already made the decision or considering to leave Finland, either returning home or relocating. They no longer see the future they once envisioned. Consequently, the multi-perspective art circle will inevitably become more limited.
One of the most noticeable changes at school is the diminishing number of international students. According to the new government’s proposal, it appears that in the future, only those who are exceptionally lucky in terms of their academic and financial capabilities will have the opportunity to come to Finland, as well as language skills. While I acknowledge that we are all fortunate to some extent to study at the academy, the government is raising the bar even higher.
I am now studying for my bachelor’s, and there are multiple ways the policies will affect me. Firstly, I think there would be much less people who would want to move to Finland and study in a University here. This would mean a smaller international community, less exchange of ideas, therefore less progress.
Secondly, the policies would definitely affect my life after graduation. Finding an art related job can be hard, and finding a job that would grant you a work residence permit even harder. It is especially true for arts, where a lot of jobs are freelance or short-timed. With the current government budget cuts on culture and education, there will be even less jobs for artists.
How would the length required to stay in Finland before obtaining a Permanent Residency permit or citizenship affect you?
I will need to stay in Finland longer to receive my citizenship. Last time I calculated, I need to stay 3 years after completing my Bachelors and Masters of 5.5 years. With the required stay becoming 8 years instead of 6, I would need to stay for 5. That is a pretty long time.
I will be able to apply for both a permanent residency permit and citizenship before my graduation if the current requirements remain unchanged. If these requirements change, I would still need to stay for an additional 2.5 years after graduating, or an additional six months for a permanent residency permit. It is quite stressful if the possible war to come in Taiwan is taken into consideration. And the job seeking in Finland for people with foreign names are proven to be more difficult than those with Finnish names.
I have been living in Finland for 5 years now, and I would have gotten Finnish citizenship even before my graduation from the Master’s. Now, I need to stay here for twice as long. Recently, I really looked forward to getting Finnish citizenship for my own security, because of the challenging political situation and war. With extended time to get it, I became even more stressed and worried about my future.
Would the policy affect your desire to stay in Finland after graduating?
I am committed to staying in Finland. I have my 10 year plan, have made it this far and am not going back.
So far, my will to remain in Finland after graduating hasn’t wavered. However, if the current government continues to implement changes that are unjust to immigrants, there’s a chance that my perspective could shift. I try to see from the standpoint of a newcomer to the country, and under the circumstances of current government, I would not consider the option of staying.
I planned on settling down in Finland for a couple of years now. However, the proposed policies made me question whether I would really want to settle down here or try living in another country. Although my main plan is to stay here, I opened my eyes to other opportunities and countries.
What do you think about the government’s policies published in June?
Call me strange, but I have trust in the decisions being made in Finland’s society and government. I believe that people are always doing the best they can, even if I don’t necessarily agree. Finnish people are really lovely. It is a democratic society, so the new government was elected by the most people. I trust the decision of the majority. From what I read it seems like there is a lack of resources within the system, and those resources are being selectively given. Life is really hard and complicated with many issues. It is hard to solve them all, although I believe we can solve everything.
This change in policy also makes me curious and wonder about these big systems and the world. I know very little. I wonder, what if the well being of others was most valued? What if our planet was most valued? What if education was most valued?
Life is hard. Our privileges are so determined by what we are born into. The change in policy will make it harder for many people to live here. From my experience studying in another country is like climbing a mountain, or maybe a sea voyage. It takes crazy amounts of endurance, strength, determination, bravery and grit.
I have been in Finland for 2 years. I perhaps don’t have the best insight of the society, but I will write according to what I have perceived.
I agreed little of it, disagree the most of it. Considering the immigration policy, it is unfair to cut the possibility for people to have better chances in lives as I personally don’t believe in changes without class struggle. I have tended to view Finland as a relatively equitable place. However, the current presence of a government that tolerates racist and hateful speeches targeting immigrants challenges my ability to hold onto this belief.
There has been a couple of mass protest held against racism and unreasonable cuts on social benefits, showing that quite many care of the issues and its problematics. Which is great and we should keep on stressing our opinions in various ways.
I personally disagree with a lot of proposed policies in the current government’s programme. I really value education and culture, and I believe that even in times of shortage of resources it’s best to prioritise those who struggle. So, the new programme doesn’t coincide with my personal values. However, I believe that the current government was chosen within a democratic society, and I respect the choice of the majority. I see that there are a lot of discussions around the policies among Finnish people, and I am happy that people think about it and actively participate in politics.
What do you think about the language requirement for permanent residency permit?
I would like that wherever a person lives they make an effort to learn the language. I like that our planet is full of languages (also languages of plants and other non-humans!) I wish for these languages to be preserved through active use. I highly value language learning.
It is important to make an effort to learn the language regardless of the place I find myself in. And it helps me so far at least with better communication in Finland and more opportunities. Many languages have faded away due to the dominance of more widely spoken languages. It’s crucial, however, to take into account individual differences; people possess varying learning capacities, life conditions, and it’s unfair to impose uniform requirements on everyone.
Regarding permanent residency permits, currently, a Finnish language test is not a requirement. But based on the new proposal, obtaining a B1 Finnish language certificate would become mandatory. For newcomers who haven’t yet decided to permanently settle in Finland, this requirement might seem daunting, particularly when faced with the possibility of being expelled from the country after just three months of unemployment.
I’m of two minds about the policy change regarding learning the language for permanent residence. Language learning has a lot of advantages: it helps you to integrate into society, it’s easier to find a job, and you experience another culture on a deeper level. The new policy would also motivate people to start learning Finnish if they plan to stay here for a long time. On the other hand, I find these policies to be unfair to people with different abilities than my own. For some, learning languages could be a big struggle, and I am saddened by how unfair these policies are to them.
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Life of an art student
In this blog, Uniarts Helsinki students share their experiences as art students from different academies and perspectives, in their own words. If you want to learn even more regarding studying and student life in Uniarts and Helsinki, you can ask directly from our student ambassadors.