Candidate blog: How we can influence Finnish higher education policy, both through national and international advocacy work
As a student, preparing for next year is like finding your car in a snowstorm: you know it might be cold, you might not find your car under the deep snow piles and there is a risk that the handles have frozen. But it could also be that the plough truck has already passed you by and the roads have been cleared, so you can calmly get behind the wheel and drive away. SAMOK is and will be the plough truck for all Finnish UAS students during the parliamentary elections. We know that the snowstorm cannot be stopped completely and we also know that we cannot change the weather, but what we can do is to be prepared and make the best of the situation.
But it is not enough for us, as student representatives, to focus only on our domestic politics; we need to be able to look more broadly. We know that EU higher education policy is getting deeper every year and that we have to be there on the barricades and make ourselves visible to the decision-makers in Brussels as well. Although in many cases we are pioneers when it comes to European education policy, we still have a long way to go. But if we are to be truly visible and heard in Europe, we must create a strong and united front in Finland. It doesn’t matter if your university is in a big city or a small town, we need to work together to raise both the major concerns and the everyday problems we face every day. SAMOK must be brave, outspoken and stubborn when it comes to students’ rights, because there is no one else to protect our interests but us.
In addition to visibility, we must also show our interest in our international students, we must show that we in Finland are indeed pioneers both in education and in our society. And above all, we must show that we are indeed the future.
But back to the plough truck: in order to know which roads to clear and where the real need is in Finland, we also need to have a picture of the needs of Finland’s UAS students. Where help is needed and what can and should be done. Nothing happens overnight, but together with enough expertise and passion, we are already going very far. But the plough truck also needs servicing, we need to take care of it so it can take care of us students. We need to select the most knowledgeable and passionate people to work on it, to drive and steer it, we need to draw the map that the plough truck will follow, and we need to trust everyone to pull their weight.
Writer: Ida Flemmich, candidate for SAMOK’s president of the board for 2023