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Changes to prices of student lunches from 17 Aug onwards – aiming to enable sustainable and healthy ways of living

The decree issued by the Government in May on increasing the maximum prices of student meals enables their prices to be increased within specified limits from 1 Aug 2020 onwards. The subsidy paid to restaurants per meal is not changing.

It has been more than eight years since the meal subsidy was last increased. In order to ensure that the student lunches served in UniCafes can maintain their high quality and levels of responsibility and domestic content in the future, we are revising the prices of our student-priced lunches. The new prices become effective from 17 Aug onwards. The prices paid by university staff or by other customers will not be increased as these prices have been revised over the past years, last time in January 2020.

“We were definitely hoping to see a change whereby the price increases of student meals would have come out of the state’s and not the student’s pocket, but this is what the Government decided to do. The coronavirus has had enormous impact on our business, which is why we are now forced to implement a bigger one-off increase,” states Business Director Leena Pihlajamäki.

“The vegan lunch is our most responsible lunch option. With the two-tier price increase, we want to support responsible lunch choices in line with our values, even though high-quality vegan ingredients are not automatically cheaper than other ingredients. We believe that the responsible option should also be attractively priced for our customers, whether students or staff,” continues Pihlajamäki.

The tight price frame of student lunches has been putting pressure on UniCafe as a responsible restaurant keeper to increase its prices for several years already. The price development of the overall expenses has been constantly on the rise, with the prices of raw ingredients, for example, having risen by about 15% between 2012 and 2020. The products with the largest increases are fish (30%), dairy products (18%) and meat (14%), while staff costs have risen by more than 10% since 2012.

Postgraduate students are not covered by the meal subsidy. Ylva’s UniCafe restaurants have, however, been offering postgraduate students lunch at a discounted price for some time now in an effort to support them. The upcoming price increase also affects the postgraduate price.

This is how lunch prices will change at UniCafe from 17 Aug:


Vegan lunch €2.95, other lunch options €3.05

Daily special €4.90

Postgraduate students

Vegan lunch €4.95, other lunch options €5.05

Daily special €6.90


Vegan lunch €5.80, other lunch options €5.90

Daily special €7.40

Further information

Leena Pihlajamäki, Business Director UniCafe, +358 40 725 2887


Government Decree on Principles of Subsidising Meals of Higher Education Students (375/2020)

The decree states the increased maximum prices of student meals. The amount of meal subsidy does not change.

Normal-priced student meal

From 1 Aug 2020 onwards, the maximum price of a standard normal-priced student meal is 5 euros at most. After deducting the meal subsidy of 1.94 euros, the higher education student has to pay no more than 3.06 euros for their meal.

More expensive special meals

From 1 Aug 2020 onwards, the price of a special meal using more expensive ingredients is at least 6.30 euros, and 7.65 euros at most. After deducting the meal subsidy of 1.94 euros, the higher education student has to pay no more than 4.36–5.71 euros for their meal.

Impact on student meal prices

The decree amendment offers an opportunity to increase the prices of student meals within the specified price limits from 1 Aug 2020 onwards. The amendment does not mean that the meal prices must be increased. The necessity to increase prices is determined by the restaurant keeper. The current pricing remains in place until 31 Jul 2020.

Impact on other customers’ meal prices

In addition to VAT-exempt student meals, a student restaurant may sell meals that are subject to VAT to other customers. The VAT-inclusive price of a meal must be at least 7.1% higher than the price of an equivalent student meal before subsidy deduction. For example: The price of a higher education student’s meal is 5.00 euros (0% VAT) before the meal subsidy (1.94 euros) is deducted. The VAT-inclusive price of an equivalent staff meal must be at least 5.36 euros (14% VAT). The current pricing remains in place until 31 Jul 2020.