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Students handed over support address to university management

On Monday (9 October 2023), students at Åbo Akademi University and the University of Turku handed over an address to representatives of the universities’ management. Those who signed the address support the students’ struggle against the government’s planned cuts and immigration policy.

The address “University of Turku and Åbo Akademi University employees against cuts – a speech in support of the student occupation?” was delivered by Otto Tarkka, PhD student at the University of Turku. Jukka Kola, Rector of the University of Turku, Gunilla Widén, Vice-rector for Education at Åbo Akademi University, Akseli Tiitta, Chair of the Board of the University of Turku Student Union and Kajsa Viitamäki, Vice chairperson of the Board of the Student Union at Åbo Akademi University were on hand to receive the letter of support, which has gathered around 700 signatures online.

Rector Kola and Vice-rector Widén thanked the students who participated in the demonstration and those who signed the petition for their activism and for standing up for important issues.

“For the university, the well-being of students and their ability to focus on their studies is of utmost importance. The support system must be such that students can concentrate on their studies and graduate on time. Universities and student unions emphasise the importance of Finnish and international expertise for the success of the whole of Finland,” says Rector Jukka Kola.

“The message from the students who participated in the demonstration is important. They have provided good insights into the challenges of student well-being and can help universities to further develop their support services in order for the students to feel as well as possible” says Gunilla Widén, Vice-rector at Åbo Akademi University.

The students began their protest against the government’s plans in the universities’ joint building Aurum on 20 September 2023. At that time, both Rector Lindfelt and Rector Kola expressed their support for the demonstration and gave the students permission to demonstrate peacefully and to stay overnight in the building. The universities have organised several discussion sessions for the students who participated in the demonstration, where issues raised by the students have been discussed.

The students participating in the demonstration in Aurum oppose the government’s planned cuts to student financial aid and the government’s immigration policy. The students also call on university management to support the students’ demands.