Admission to the universities began yesterday and there is great concern among young people after the admission reform and last year’s drastic demarcation. Last year, major changes were made to the admission criteria after the application period ended, at very short notice due to the corona pandemic. The proportion of applicants who were accepted based on the student grade increased significantly.
The government aims to increase the number of young people with a university education to 50 percent by 2030. The universities receive a large part of their funding based on the number of graduates. Society is waiting for new graduates to start working. Young people want to start studying the subjects they are interested in as soon as possible.
It is therefore in everyone’s interest that young people can be admitted to the universities as quickly as possible with as few obstacles as possible. It should be a common goal for everyone to strive for. If the communication between the various interest groups is lacking, no improvement will take place. It is also unwise not to listen to young people, as they are the ones who are most affected by these decisions.
As the number of study places has increased recently, should it not be easier to get admitted to a university? Why do students stress then? Yes, the number of study places has increased, but this has not been communicated at the application stage. Very few applicants know how good the chances are when they apply for an education line and the rumours intimidate them.
Regardless of whether one considers the admission reform to be good or bad, the admission reform has significantly increased the stress of even younger students. Personally, I see that even if the reform would have been good, it has failed as those who apply to universities experience such great stress because of it.
The admissions reform in its current model is built primarily to work on admissions goals with high application pressure. These education lines are i.e. law and the lines of medicine. Is it then appropriate for every line to follow the same model? One might think that it is most fair that everyone follows the same system, but is it so?
Instead of reducing students’ stress and making admission to universities easier, the admissions reform has made upper secondary school to become a single long entrance exam. The pressure of succeeding well in students’ examination has increased markedly and one should know at an early stage where one intends to apply in the future to be able to choose the right courses. This has also led to the second stage losing its general educational part. It’s all about tinkering with your courses so that you can get the highest grades in the right subjects, in order to guarantee that you get into your dream education. We cannot have a system where you already in high school need to know what you want to work with, and which punishes those who want to change direction. It must be possible to try, fail and try again.
At the same time, the first-time applicant quota has also had the opposite effect than desired. The idea was that students should apply to study as soon as possible, while the quota for first-time applicants instead makes young people take intermediate years for fear of making the wrong educational choice. The quota has had a small impact and not many people have been left without a place to study due to it. But on the other hand, rumours surrounding the quota have caused significant damage.
It is easy for false rumours about what grades you need to have to get a study place, and how much impact the quota for first-time applicants has, to spread among young people. This is especially true in times of distance studies, where you cannot meet your study supervisor who could otherwise tell about the real situation. Therefore, it is especially important that the universities, in collaboration with second-stage educations, work to reduce these misconceptions.
On Monday (15 March), Unifi announced that the universities had decided to carry out the pre-selection tests physically. It seems that even though there has now been a year to design functional distance tests, the alternative that was easiest for the universities was chosen. There is now a great risk that the pre-selection tests again need to be changed at short notice, if the Covid-19 situation continues to deteriorate.
If an applicant is quarantined, the person cannot take part in the pre-selection test, which means that they may need to have an intermediate year against their will. This is not fair. The graduates of 2020 and 2021 have been in an unequal position when it comes to student enrolment. Student enrolment for the spring began yesterday and high school students at different schools are in unequal positions e.g. applicable if they can write with special arrangements if they have been quarantined. When the student grades are constantly valued higher and higher at the admission to universities, it would be important for everyone to have the same starting point.
What should be done now? The co-operation between universities and second-stage educations must be improved and, in that co-operation, both pupil and student representatives need to be included. Prior to the pre-selection tests, the universities should consider solutions for those who end up in quarantine so that all applicants can write the pre-selection tests.
The Student Union of Åbo Akademi University