Tuition fees for international students in Finland
Weimer, Leasa Marie
MetadataShow full item record
Until 2010, the higher education system in Finland was tuition-free for all students, regardless of nationality, pursuing bachelors’, masters’, and doctoral degrees. Under the New Universities Act of 2009, the Finnish Ministry of Education increased the autonomy of universities, encouraging them to become more entrepreneurial and innovative. Out of this new legislation came a five-year pilot program allowing universities to collect tuition fees from international students (non-European Union and non-European Economic Area students) enrolled in select English-taught master programs. This landmark social change necessitates a better understanding of the collective action, both in Finland and the wider field environment, which created an opening for the new public management agenda facilitating market-oriented higher education reforms. This qualitative multiple case study examines the history leading to the tuition pilot program, the discursive formation of collective actors, and how two universities respond to the opportunity to collect tuition fees. The theories of strategic action fields and academic capitalism are employed to analyze how collective strategic actors advocate and resist the move towards market-based reforms. This study concludes that collective actors are instrumental in the Finnish higher education field as challengers promote new public management reforms mirroring academic capitalism practices while incumbents resist market-based reforms and struggle to maintain a tuition-free system. The findings illustrate differential effects of academic capitalism as the “world class” university, when compared to a regional university, responds differently to the opportunity to collect tuition fees.