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Alviina Helsinkiläinen valtiotieteilijä (24) analysoi maailmanpolitiikkaa ja ideoi parempaa Suomea.

Helsinki could be the best city for students - #alviina2017

  • I am a Green candidate for the Helsinki City Council. Vote: 29.3.-4.4.2017. tulospalvelu.vaalit.fi/KV-2017/en/kupaik_091.html
    I am a Green candidate for the Helsinki City Council. Vote: 29.3.-4.4.2017. tulospalvelu.vaalit.fi/KV-2017/en/kupaik_091.html

Lunch at a student cafeteria. A pair of overalls to sew patches on. A crisp morning wind on your way to the lecture hall. A shared dorm far away from the city. The steady humdrum the subway, clanking on the tram. Studying at the Kaisa library in your woolen socks. Social events. Seminars. New friends.

This is an example of student life in Helsinki: a wonderful time, full of dreams and amazement. A large and bustling city excites young people – especially those moving to the city from smaller towns. The largest downside? You’re broke.

In 2015, when I was the chairman the World Student Capital network, we conducted a survey with OTUS (the Foundation for Studying and Education) on how students feel about Helsinki. The results were a crushing depiction of a city unseen to many well-off residents. Eight percent of students have dealt with homelessness. One in three have close friends who have.

The maximum sum for student financial aid is 451,28€. Average housing for students cost 560€ a month. 90% of those surveyed said price was the primary factor in choosing an apartment.

The message was clear: Helsinki needs more student housing, and a tight-knit city structure. We suggested setting a specific goal of 1500 new government-subsidized rental apartments.

Roadways take up 25% of Helsinki’s landmass. Building in a space saving manner would also enable the conservation of valuable recreational nature areas. Public transportation is vitally important for students, and cross-town transportation could enable cross-disciplinary studies. This is why we at the World Student Capital have advocated for the Science Tram – a single transit line to connect ten student campuses between Otaniemi and Myllypuro.

One in three students prefer using bicycles to move around the city. Despite this, only 10% use their bikes on a daily basis. The reasons for this concerned the perceived unsafe nature of cycling in traffic. The fix seemed obvious: 90% called for more lanes for bikes. Two out of three called for a car free zones in the city. This was, perhaps, unsurprising as 80% of students have little or no use for cars. There is little room for new parking spaces in the city center, and regulations on mandatory parking spaces should be laxed.

Students need cheaper homes and better public transportation. In addition, Helsinki needs to uphold its safety nets and focus on preventative care for young people. One particularly valuable program is the NYT Liikunta service which lets youths try a variety of different sports.

I’m proud to live in a city that allows more and more open urban activities. When given space, students will innovate and add to the city’s attractiveness to new residents. Helsinki should compete for the chance to be the best student city in the world.

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