What had initially started off as a noble program to fly out ambitious and qualified students in Uasin Gishu county to study in Finland has taken an ugly turn in the recent times. So many parents and students who had high expectations from the program have to deal with the sad reality. They hoped that going abroad would help the educated yet unemployed youth pave their way outside Kenya. But, as things stand, they can only hope to get their money refunded in full.
The adversely mentiomed Uasin Gishu political leaders have tried to quell outrage in vain. The leaders including current Senator Jackson Mandago who initiated the program as a governor, the sitting deputy governor Eng. John Barorot and current Jonathan Bii have been on the hot seat. Thye found themselves hard pressed to fend off a perception of outright scandal among the people.
Even with several media briefings, public appearances and assurances that the Uasin Gishu study abroad program isn’t a scandal, parents and enraged students can’t hear more of it. The angry would-be beneficiaries want nothing less than all their money refunded to them right away and in full.
Statements attributed to parents, students and concerned leaders paint a grim picture of the program. One shudders to understand just how the monies deposited into the common pool by students still stranded in Kenya ended up being used to pay tuition fees for other students. As the parents say, this happened without any express consent from those awaiting to travel. This reality complicated the whole issues and even makes refunding the money back to parents difficult.
The slippery yet nudging dream to study in Finland, abroad among Kenyans
So many can only dream to get a study opportunity abroad, Finland being one of them. As much as local universities in Kenya have done a lot to make their faculties excellent, the need to learn from more advanced universities abroad never ceases. Also, high possibilities of getting a job abroad after studies makes it attractive.
Parents from Uasin Gishu county and their ambitious children had hoped to pull every stop and grab the study oportunities in Finland. In what appeared as a sheer goodwill to help students overcome the need for proof of financial ability always needed when applying to study abroad, the county government of Uasin Gishu ended up being at the center of a storm. Now, the county offocials find themselves embroiled in a murky situation that nobody can clearly tell how it will end.
With the assurance of best study opportunity, guarantee by the county government and a job after study, the students and parents fell for it head over heels. But now, this program which promised so much seems to be fast oscillating between a scandal and failed project.
Uasin Gishu county government on the spot for a failed Finland study program
Initially, a lot of students made applications for the program as the surest path to make their dreams to study abroad come true. But this is never to be as only a handful first cohort now remain in the universiteies in Finland. The Canada project on the other hand seems to have grinded to an abrupt halt as the issue of who mishandled the money drags on.
For most students, the dream of going to Europe, simply called kuenda majuu had finally come true. Some of the families from humble backgrounds sold their lifetime wealth in raising the required 1.2 million shillings that would enable the students to start off their studies in Finland. However, whether the county government set itself up to failure or just got unlucky remains to be seen.
The Uasin Gishu County Government ´Scholarship Program´
The county government opened an account called the Uasin Gishu County Government Overseas Trust Fund. All the students interested in the program were asked to deposit money there and the county government acted as a guarantor. This means that there was no agreement between students/parents and the universities. Instead, there was only an agreement between the county government and the institutions.
One year and months later after the first batch of students went, the county government failed to remit money to them. This is despite the fact that the students had already remitted money to the county government. The frustrations even made one of the students who was studying in Finland to commit suicide. Yes, it was that bad!
Uasin Gishu parents, students want their money back right now
Parents have been demanding refunds. Unfortunately, it has not been successful. Just recently, Governor Bii even distanced himself from the scholarship saga. He said that current Senator Manadago is the one who should give an explanation of what transpired.
Moreover, the MCAs claimed that it was Mandago´s brainchild. However, despite the fact that it was his, the Uasin Gishu county government officers operated it. They even considered it as a business enterprise run by the current senator, former Youth and Sports officer, Joseph Maritim, and others. This as even the agent fees of ksh.30,000 per student was never paid out to the claimed agent.
Studying in Finland as an International Student
As an international student, one can go to study in Finland without being in collaboration with another party such as the county government. The central universities portal ´korkeakoulujen yhteishaku´ provides the common platform for university applications in Finland. In the portal, you will choose the specific university and program of interest. From this point, the portal opens to the programs which interactively gives a step by step guide. You just need to carefully follow through each step and be particulaly observant of timelines.
Remember, as a foreign student (non-EU), one is not eligible for student financial aid. Thus, you have to show how you will finance your studies. However, there are some universities that offer scholarships and grants.
If you are from the EU, studying in Finland is free. You do not need to pay the tuition fees. However, if you are from non-EU countries, you need to pay for tuition fees to be able to complete your studies. The main languages in which one can study in Finland include Finnish, Swedish, and English. Even though most of the courses are offered in Swedish and Finnish, there are some offered in English.
If you are from the EU or EEA, you can study in Finland for free. However, if you are from non-EU you have to pay the tuition fees. The programs in which you have to pay for school fees include vocational institutions, Bachelor’s, or Masters programs. However, PhD programs are usually tuition free.
The tuition fees range from 6500 euros to 18,000 euros annually. Remember, the exact fees depend on the university and the program that you have chosen. Some universities are more expensive as compared to others.
Residence Permit Finland
If you get a study place in Finland, you will need a residence permit. You can get residence permits for institutions such as vocational educational institutions, universities, and universities of applied sciences. Unfortunately, you cannot get a residence permit for long distance studies.
When making an application for a residence permit, you will need to prove that you can finance your studies. You will need about EUR 6,720 in your bank account if your studies will take one year or longer.
Lucky admitted srudents may win a scholarship or grant necsssary for supporting studies. The grant may cover the tuition fees and expenses or just the tuition fees. Grant application is usually made when you are making an application for a university.
Working as a Student in Finland
As a student from EU or EEA, Switzerland or Nordic countries, you can work without limitations in Finland. Besides, you do not need a permit. However, if you are from other countries, you will get a residence permit which allows you to work but with limitations. You will only be allowed to work a maximum of 25 hours per week during school days. When it is summer, you can work full time.
The Advantages of Studying in Finland
One of the reasons why you should choose to study in Finland is because it offers world class education. It has some of the top universities globally. The universities usually prepare the students for the real world experience. They have collaborations with companies.
Moreover, Finland has a work life balance making it one of the best countries to work in. Study, holiday and work are valued just the same way. This is because they know work without rest may cause burnout. In Finland, you will always get time to relax with friends and family. If you want a sauna, you can always get it.
Also, as a student, you can always get job opportunities. You can always get such opportunities from career services provided by Finnish universities. Besides, after completing your studies, you can get a job and even later get a permanent residence.