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TOAS lost exchange student’s belongings by accident

The student received compensation only with the help of a lawyer

Fabien Taverson, a French exchange student who was studying in the Tampere University of Technology, got an extremely unpleasant surprise in August when he returned to his TOAS home after a week’s visit at a friend’s place. Everything he owned was gone because the flat had been accidentally cleaned up for the next tenant, even though his rental agreement was still valid for the next three weeks’ time.

Taverson went to TOAS’ office and demanded compensation but TOAS was ready to pay only EUR 500 since his belongings were old. He contacted the police, the Student Union and finally a lawyer, at which point TOAS agreed to pay compensation that covered the price of every item lost. Taverson received help from the lawyer free of charge since he had no income.

“The end is quite happy but I had to go to TOAS, the police and a lawyer first! So I lost a lot of time. And I lost a lot of things I will never get back, such as calculators, flash drives and my passport", says Taverson.

The incident is particularly strange because the flat had already been given to another student once before in the beginning of August, even though the student’s rental agreement was valid until the end of August. The other tenant got another flat only after they complained that the first flat had someone else’s belongings in it.

How can these sort of things happen, TOAS’ Customer Service Manager Pia Ylimäki?

“We have made the kind of mistake which happens very rarely. Our rental agreements end on time and there cannot be any overlapping in the agreements. If anyone finds any of our conventions puzzling, they can contact us at TOAS. Our decisions can be altered if we receive additional information on a matter", Ylimäki explains.

Taverson’s friend, Margarita K., who studies in the English language Master’s Programme for Journalism and Mass Communication in the University of Tampere, feels that the compensation offered by TOAS is unreasonably low, especially when compared with TOAS’ usual compensation practice.

TOAS asked Margarita to leave her flat in Kaukajärvi and move to Mikontalo, Hervanta, since the building in Kaukajärvi was going to be demolished. As she was travelling, she forgot to return the keys of her previous flat to TOAS.

“I thought that since they were going to demolish the building anyway, nobody was going to live there anymore. When I brought the key in a week later, they charged 100 euros for returning it late. I know for sure that TOAS did not need the key", Margarita says.

Hertta-Mari Kaukonen

Problems in Finland

Health care: The services of the Finnish Student Health Service (YTHS) do not include the possibility to see a specialist, giving birth or abortion. Many health insurance policies do not include chronic diseases or pregnancy.

Insurances: It is practically impossible for international students to get a Finnish health or accident insurance. Other insurances are also difficult to get.

Housing: International students have to pay for the summer months’ rent retroactively even if they only live in Finland for the winter.

Invoices: Most banks do not grant netbank ID for international students unless the student has regular income. Paying invoices is especially difficult with payment ATMs that do not have instructions in English.

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  1. To-ass (14.11.10, kello 18:19)

    TOAS always is treating foreign students worse than Finnish ones. Just because they are not expected to know how to complain or have time to get legal.

    By the way, after a lot of trying I found that for commenting in English the Anti-spam answer is "7". (Aviisi should have commenting instructions also in english...)

  2. K (16.11.10, kello 0:36)

    And what about that extra fee (the reservation fee) that only internationals must pay to get an accommodation with TOAS? Will it be applied for the students coming in January as well? It seems to be discriminative if only a selected (based on nationality) group of students must pay it, and all the others don't.
    Same thing about internationals not being able to use the online reservation system... It's only in Finnish, and it's only available to those who have the Finnish social security/ID number (henkiltunnus) - which excludes all the internationals trying to apply from abroad... Why would TOAS limit the use of that online system only to Finns, and not allow it for so many exchange/degree students coming to study here?

  3. Laila (16.11.10, kello 18:05)

    I recommend, that some foreign students would try more eagerly to find an apartement from somewehere else than from Toas, because it is sooooooo bad and racist and what so ever.

  4. Dellio (17.11.10, kello 22:52)

    Laila: as a 100% Finn, born and raised, I waited for 2,5 years for a TOAS apartment. Sure is "racist and what so ever"...please.

  5. Gabriel Herrera (22.11.10, kello 21:47)

    Laila & Dellio:
    The fact that TOAS is matter of factualy the only option that arriving foreign students have to get appartments doesn't mean they can be treated any way TOAS sees fit. The issues raised are real and demonstrate a lack of respect for the law, human decency and social responsability. As responsible, highly educated members of society it would be unthinkable to take the defeatist attitude of just "dealing with it". TOAS's practices do discriminate and the statement from the ombudsman for minorities from the Spring makes this clear. No change has however come from it.

    According to Finnish law, student housing has to be provided according to need and one criteria for need based housing is the distance you are coming from. In this sense also a student from Rovaniemi should be quicker to get an appartment than one from Lempl and it sounds absolutely fare.

    TOAS has forgoten their status as student housing providers and aknowledges that they would like to be providers of a "home" to students. A praiseworthy goal, but not what student housing is for. Even the rents are not below the private sector any more. I live in the center of town for about half of what a TOAS appartment would cost me.

    Who is TOAS actualy for?

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