The Finnish government’s new budget proposal for 2019 includes plans to grant a learning material supplement to some upper secondary learners, including VET. Although upper secondary education is free of charge, students are required to buy their own learning materials.
According to the Finnish National Agency for Education, VET learners spend several hundred euros on learning materials (such as books and toolsets), depending on the VET field.
The proposed supplement for learning materials would be EUR 46.80 per month or approximately EUR 1 400 per programme. Upper secondary students are eligible for the supplement starting from August 2019, if they are:
- between the ages of 17 and 19 and living with their parents;
- 17 years old and living on their own (18-19 year-olds living on their own are not eligible);
- under 17 years old and their parents’ yearly gross income is less than EUR 41 100.
Student organisations have recognised the supplement’s potential to increase equity in education and reduce early leaving, but it has also been criticised for being in monthly payments when most money on learning materials is actually spent at the beginning of a school year. The supplement also does not affect most students who live on their own, even though they are often in the most direct need of financial aid.