“When I tell people I’m a student, it tells them I’m achieving something compared to being jobless,” he said, sipping green tea at a cafe near the university’s main building. “In reality, there might not be such a big difference.”
Finnish students stay in college longer than in any other developed country save Austria, the Netherlands and Denmark, getting their first university degree on average at 29, according to a 2013 report by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. That compares with 24 years for Britons, 26 for Germans and the OECD average of 27 years. Most Finns who graduate from college get a master’s degree.
Easing the long years in college is the fact that students aren’t required to pay tuition. The state also provides grants of as much as 500 euros ($670) a month plus meal support and loans of as much as 400 euros a month.
While Finland’s two recessions since 2008 have pushed companies to cut jobs, unemployment has risen less than in many of its European peers. At the same time, so-called hidden unemployment is on the rise. The number of people not seeking work though they’d like to find it increased 10 percent in June from a year earlier.
Only about 50 percent of all university students graduate in five-and-a-half years or less, Helsinki-based Statistics Finland says. One-third of graduates are 30 years old or more, compared with an EU average of 17 percent, Eurostat says.
“School has traditionally acted as a buffer when the economic situation is bad,” said Ulla Haemaelaeinen, a senior researcher at the Finnish Social Insurance Institution in Helsinki. “It’s a policy choice.”
Thursday, August 21, 2014
Public education as an unemployment subsidy
From Bloomberg News: Eight years of college lets Finns hide from labor market.