By Juho Kekäläinen, Board Member
KOL, Keskustan Opiskelijaliitto (or Finnish Center Students) had its congress between 10.11 and 12.11 in Turku. This year there was around 40 participants. The setting of the congress was interesting. This year, an updated manifesto as well as a new strategy were on the agenda. Meanwhile, the fundamental values and visions of KOL raised an active discussion.
Politically, the most interesting thing KOL did, was that it changed its position towards the matriculation examination system, an unique part of the Finnish high school system, which KOL has had an opposing view on before. From the Congress 2018 forward, KOL approves that the high school national exams will continue to have an import role in the future, however, the system itself has to be developed. KOL will prepare its vision how the examination should be improved.
Elections were, like always very exciting, however, the new president was elected again (!) with only one vote difference! This indicates, above all, the quality of the competition within KOL. Two excellent candidates ran for President, but in the end it was Auli Piiparinen who came out victorious. There were no hard feelings after the election result, and the runner-up Lauri Heikkilä only showed thankfulness for the Congress. He gave an inspirational speech and bid his farewell to the organisation, where he has been for 7 years. The feeling of unity in the Congress room, after the result was announced, was truly inspiring.
To sum up, the Congress approved a new strategy for the organisation and combined with a new board, the center student movement continues united and strong. The inspiring and exciting weekend predicts great upcoming year. According to the new strategy, KOL will prepare a program of its environmental policy as well as a pamphlet of its European policy. The manifesto, in turn, calls upon KOL to strengthen its international activity. In other words, excellent news for the NCF!
Last but not least, it is worth mentioning that history was made during the weekend, as the all of the members of the new presidium are from universities of applied science. This means that KOL will probably have an even greater chance to practice politics, which will strengthen the dual model in the Finnish higher education system - meaning that universities of applied science should regain a firmer position along universities. At the very least, it is a clear statement to the current Minister of Education and Culture, who seems to prefer universities at the expense of universities of applied science. We'd like to wish KOL good luck and look forward to hear about the year to come!