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‘The Chair of Kronos has traditionally run as a candidate in the Representative Council elections on HYAL’s list’, the Chair of HYY’s Board at the time told me in autumn 2007. It was a comment that defined my life and use of time for the following eight years. After three active and rewarding years in my subject organisation, I was leaving the history students’ own positions behind me. Luckily, I had active and more experienced people encouraging me and explaining why I should join the Student Union’s activities and what I could learn from them.

The Student Union won me over. It was fun to run an election campaign with a good team, new things in HYY were interesting and politics felt worth influencing. Reforming the operating grant model for organisations and relocating our premises when the third student house was completed took over my free time quite efficiently – and I was not even sorry for it. Learning new things and influencing matters in HYY were inspiring by themselves.

I was already somewhat familiar with organisational affairs and influencing study affairs from my subject organisation. However, the Student Union managed to surprise me with its diversity: we got to build a more sustainable city, campaign for the climate act and debate with top researchers on the funding of education. We were able to safely learn new things in a group where someone always knew a bit more about their own theme and knew how to instruct us novices. At the same time, we got to constantly develop the things we learned and apply them on the organisational field.

The importance of communication was also emphasised: organisations did not care how many nights the Representative Council members spent negotiating in the meeting rooms of the New Student House if we did not tell them about the victories we achieved. Being in active contact with your own field – the communities on whose mandate you were acting in HYY – was an indicator of the success of all activities. This was a vital lesson for my later working life and political activity.

After the years spent in HYY, me and many of my independent friends continued advocacy work by joining parties. On many evenings, we have reminisced about the past and compared the things we learned in the Representative Council to our current responsibilities, in larger and smaller parties. We have often concluded that out of all the election campaigns we have run, none have so far beaten the organisation of our Representative Council campaigns. Later, as a vice council member of the Helsinki City Council, I have also come to appreciate the structured and civilised manner of discussion in HYY’s Representative Council.

The Student Union offered me another degree and cornerstone of competence to accompany my master’s degree. My degree in arts is now complemented by everything acquired during my years in HYY: negotiation and lobbying skills, skills in campaign and project management and, most of all, the vast network of skilled, familiar people from HYY who now act in different sectors of society. Because if anything, HYY taught me how to cooperate. To trust and to earn the trust of others. To accept and take responsibility. To envision and work hard at the same time. If you are still thinking whether it is worth it to join, I encourage you not to hesitate. The adventure in HYY is sure to pay itself back!

Katri Korolainen 

The writer spent the best years of her youth at the New Student House. She acted as a member of HYY’s Board in 2009 and its Chair in 2010 as well as the Chair of the National Union of University Students in Finland in 2011. She is also the former Secretary General of HYY. Currently, she is acting as the Director in charge of communications and advocacy work at Nuori kirkko ry.

[Unfortunately, the links embedded in text are only in Finnish]

When I think of a random weekday from the past year, I often imagine myself sitting in various places: as a student representative in the meetings of administrative bodies or at the Student Union’s office. Besides this, I spend my time on studying, which often translates into sitting in lecture halls or in front of my laptop at home. What all these aspects of student life have in common is an abundant amount of sitting – students spend an average of 9–10 hours per day sitting.

It is no coincidence that students spend a great deal of their time each day sitting. Just imagine a regular lecture hall and teaching situation: students are often sitting for several hours listening to lectures, with only short breaks in between. Besides the fact that, pedagogically, such a teaching situation makes students passive, it does not encourage students to move sufficiently for their wellbeing, either. Lecture halls in universities generally do not have opportunities for standing up, not to mention having exercise breaks. The day continues with lectures that require more sitting, the days turn into weeks and at some point we realise that we cannot study or stand up for university democracy because of aches and pains in the upper back. Who will accumulate the credits for the University or bring student perspectives to negotiation tables when an increasing number of students are suffering from constant pain in their neck, shoulders and back? The situation is not made any easier by the fact that the University staff is facing the same problems day after day – based on empirical observations in meetings, constant sitting is tormenting the staff of the University just as much as it is students.

Because of worries like the ones described above, Sunday 16 September was a pleasant day: I got to think about rolling my feet and the centre of gravity during my step for the first time in a long while when preparing for a run. Running shoes had been fetched from storage and the exact length of the heel-to-toe-drop in millimetres forgotten when the Student Union of the University of Helsinki invited students to participate in the ‘Espoon Rantakymppi’ 10-kilometre run for more versatile study facilities and a study culture that encourages people to sit less. A total of 13 students arrived from different subject backgrounds, and even though the Aalto University sponsored 1,700 members of their university to participate in the run, we did not lose out to them in terms of impact: our campaign garnered attention from university managements all across Finland, and talks of reforming and developing teaching facilities to become more ergonomic rose to the surface once again at the University of Helsinki. In addition to this, the stunt increased the interest of the management of the University of Helsinki in sponsoring members of the University community to participate in running events, which would serve to increase our community spirit besides encouraging people to exercise.

In addition to all of the above, our group of runners were in great spirits throughout the event, and the running went smoothly, too. During the run and the preparations for it, I felt that the audience was encouraging me to exercise and to break the everyday routine of sitting – I would love for every single student and member of the University community to experience this in the future when hanging out at the University or attending meetings and lectures.

Vice Rector Tom Böhling, in charge of campus development and the wellbeing of the University community, has, in a recent interview, taken it upon him to create an environment in which it is as easy as possible for the personnel and students to do their job. This is an ambitious goal, and it has been a pleasure to note how the new rectors have showed a desire to invest in the wellbeing of the members of the University and the construction of communality. The first step towards everyday routines that include more exercise at the University is to decrease sitting, and the solution to this is reforming both the facilities and the culture. The Finnish Student Sports Federation (OLL) has collected tips for taking breaks from sitting for both teachers and students.

Our running campaign was only the beginning – now we are challenging everyone at the University of Helsinki to a literal uprising from sitting by adding one act that decreases sitting into their weekly routine. Only healthy members of the community will retain the joy of learning and creating new things.

Topias Tolonen
Board Member (Higher Educational Politics, International Affairs, Communications)

Helsinki is the capital of Finland as well as the living room of all Finns. Helsinki is the city of those working, studying and living here. Helsinki is our common city.

The Student Union of the University of Helsinki has always had a close connection to the city. It should be obvious to everyone today that universities increase the appeal of modern cities. Our business life, research and culture would all be much poorer without the University of Helsinki. In addition to this, students bring about changes in the way our city is managed.

I was in the Representative Council myself as a representative of the HYY Greens. I was an active member of HYY’s Social Policy Division where we influenced matters such as the social situation of students with a family, family services, student housing, subsistence, mental health services, psychosocial support, disabled students’ opportunities to get about and the accessibility of the city. We organised events, brought up issues and wrote.

It has been a pleasure to note that these kinds of ways of influencing have not disappeared anywhere. Influencing matters in the Student Union is pretty similar to the advocacy work I currently do from the perspective of the entire Helsinki. Work done in the Student Union has become more efficient, and the management of Helsinki hears the students’ message ever louder and clearer, too. These messages have a lot of influence on the shape our city takes in the future.

What does the recipient of students’ messages think of them, then? That they are well thought out and the result of good decision-making. The issues have been debated and deliberated. And, most of all, that students care about the issues.

When you receive a message from HYY, you can be sure that they come from people chosen to represent the diverse voices that students themselves represent. We know that students care about who represents them. We should take such parties seriously. Receiving the messages is also made a lot easier by the fact that a large portion of the current decision-makers are also products of HYY.

Please indulge me as one such decision-maker reminisces a bit: I remember when I returned from an Erasmus exchange in Berlin. I had separated from my cohabiting partner during the exchange and returned to Helsinki without a home where I could go to. Studies were not going all that well either, and I decided to apply for a job as a project researcher to get something else to think about. HYY soon won me over. I made HYY a report on students’ wellbeing and subsistence. Similar reports still have an important role today in sketching out students’ situation.

As I walk to work through the Senate Square this autumn, I see groups of freshers who are just beginning their studies. Before that, I have walked past my old department of sociology on Unioninkatu and the building of the Faculty of Social Sciences where I worked at a clinic for dermatology and venereal diseases as a general upper secondary school student. I started my studies in sociology in Franzenia, which today is a city-run day care centre. The city has changed a lot, but HYY’s activities remain strong. It is good that some things change while others do not. Students themselves, however, are on the side of change – and that is good.

Sanna Vesikansa

The writer is the Deputy Mayor for Social Services and Health Care in Helsinki. In HYY, Vesikansa acted as a project researcher in 1994–1997, a member of the Representative Council and a member of the Social Policy Division.

The goal we are working for has become clearer to me in time. When I was running for the Representative Council in autumn 2005, I had some kind of an understanding of what HYY Group is. However, too much time has passed for me to remember what I might have answered back then if someone had asked me why the Group exists.

Today, I would sum up the Group’s existence into these three points:
1) We look after HYY’s significant real estate assets: an area nearly the size of one block around the New Student House and another real estate complex near Domus Gaudium.
2) We receive profits from the aforementioned assets and distribute these profits to HYY. The Student Union can use these funds to promote the objectives it sees fit.
3) We conduct business while simultaneously advancing HYY’s objectives, such as societal and environmental responsibility, a better city – or simply good and responsible student meals.

What do these objectives mean for our work in the Group in practice? Many things. For services business, it means constantly striving to mitigate climate change. We do this by continually increasing the share of responsibly produced products, such as responsibly caught fish, organic and Fair Trade products and Finnish ingredients, among our products. In addition to this, we plan ways to reduce food waste, minimise transport emissions and act ever more responsibly towards our employees.

As for real estate business, the new Lyyra block, to be constructed in Hakaniemi, is a prime example of creating just the kind of better and more fun city that HYY believes in and wants to promote. Lyyra will create an internationally attractive meeting place for science and companies into the very heart of Helsinki, attracting top experts, allowing ideas to spread quickly and creating user-centric solutions.

If I had to sum up the purpose of HYY’s existence in a couple of rows, it might go like this: Our objective is to conduct business in the way the students of the University of Helsinki – you, our owners – want and guide us to. In 2005, I would never have believed how much I will get to influence the Group’s business activities, even much before I started working at the Group.

Leena Pihlajamäki

The writer is HYY Group’s business director in charge of services business. She spent her youth in meetings related to various positions of trust in HYY, for instance, but still believes it was worth it.

Amanda Pasanen

Human rights are too important to be left to corporate discretion. The structure of the global economy encourages companies to seek profits by underpaying people from developing countries and favouring dangerous working conditions. For this reason, HYY and HYY Group have joined over 70 other organisations, corporate actors and trade unions by participating in the #Ykkösketjuun campaign coordinated by Finnwatch, an organisation promoting corporate accountability. The goal of the campaign is to get the drafting of an act on corporate social responsibility that respects human rights included in Finland’s next government programme.

In HYY Group, a company owned by the Student Union, responsibility has long been a basic principle guiding business activities. HYY Group aims to be a pioneer of responsibility and to actively promote the development of responsible business in Finland. The UniCafe restaurants owned by the Group favour Finnish and certified ingredients and strive to promote a culinary culture that mitigates climate change. UniCafe was the first restaurant chain to include insect-based food as part of its lunches. In addition to this, surplus food from the restaurants is sold after opening hours to decrease food waste. In real estate business, HYY Group strives towards responsibility through its choices of tenants and by using its property investments to develop Helsinki towards becoming the international capital of science and economy.

It is also important to students that the products and services they consume have not used child or forced labour in their production. It should not be the consumer’s responsibility to guess whether the company has acted responsibly or not. Helmi Partanen, an active member of the Development Cooperation Committee, emphasises that students are informed consumers and want to get employed in the future in companies that are global leaders in responsibility. Volunteers of HYY’s Development Cooperation Committee are in charge of the campaign from the students’ side.

Taking part in the #Ykkösketjuun campaign was an easy decision for HYY Group. Antti Kerppola, the Group’s CEO, states that HYY Group wants to be involved in making the entire corporate field in Finland global pioneers who do not make profits at the expense of those in a weaker position.

But what is the act on corporate social responsibility all about? Legislation already in place in France and Switzerland requires human rights due diligence from companies. In practice, this means that companies are required to chart human rights risks and their prevention in their activities. In case a company does not observe due diligence, sanctions are imposed on it. Finland is already committed to the UN’s Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, which defines due diligence. Many Finnish companies already take care of the human rights effects of their activities but, unfortunately, not all companies act this way. An act on corporate social responsibility would ensure that trampling on human rights would no longer allow companies to get competitive advantages.

Read more about the campaign: ykkösketjuun.fi/en/

Sign the petition: https://ykkosketjuun.fi/#home_pledge_section_form

Amanda Pasanen
Member of HYY’s Board in charge of HYY Group, city advocacy work and development cooperation

Yhteiskuva Yritysvastuu

One of the most important tasks of the Student Union is to advocate for students’ interests: to defend students’ rights and status both in society and at the University. The Strategy and Policy Paper approved by the Representative Council guide what HYY focuses on in its activities. The guiding principle of the Strategy is our dream: the world’s happiest students building a fairer world.

Advocacy work in HYY is conducted particularly by four specialists and a group of members of the Board appointed by the Representative Council. This work is done in many ways: we meet decision-makers and people preparing issues at the University and the city organisation as well as draft statements and propose new operating methods. Besides this kind of advocacy work that occurs in the background, we also work through the public sphere: for instance, Chair of the Board Lauri Linna recently wrote an opinion piece for Helsingin Sanomat  for retaining HSL’s student discount.

Within the University, we ensure that students are involved in decision-making and that the wishes and needs of students are taken into account when planning teaching and in facility use. We could not do this alone on all levels of the University, which is why there are several hundred student representatives appointed by the Student Union acting in University administration. HYY provides these student representatives with information, training and support to ensure that students’ voice is heard in both individual degree programmes and University management.

Perhaps our most visible act so far this year has been The Student Simulator made in cooperation with the Aalto University Student Union. The simulator allows you to test things such as how living as a roomie affects your housing allowance and how combining studies and work can wear students out. In July, we went to meet politicians at SuomiAreena, and got Prime Minister Juha Sipilä to test how he would manage in the maze of student benefits. In the end, Sipilä had to give up his cat to finish his studies. The simulator helped us raise the issue of students’ complex benefit system and lacking subsistence into public discussion.

On the national level, we conduct advocacy work in a united front with the other student unions in Finland through the National Union of University Students in Finland. In the upcoming parliamentary elections, a united student movement is an influencer that has to be taken seriously. Our main theme is intergenerational justice. It is not right for decision-makers to make cuts directed at young people and education without a care for the future – whether the issue under discussion is climate change, wellbeing or pensions.

The Representative Council of the Student Union is elected in elections held on 31 October–7 November. The new Representative Council will get to influence everything we at HYY work for – the objectives and budget for the next year are decided on right after the elections, and the Student Union’s Strategy will be renewed next year, too. Use your power, vote in the Representative Council elections and steer our Student Union’s boat towards a direction that is in line with your values!

Aaro Riitakorpi

The writer is the Student Union’s Secretary General. He has previously acted as HYY’s specialist in educational policy, getting to influence issues such as the University’s internal funding model.

Lauri puvussa
Increasing democracy at the University is an important objective for HYY. Our goal is for the University community – which includes the University’s personnel and students as its members – to be as autonomic as possible. We believe that a university that is governed as democratically as possible and that is as communal as possible is best suited to realise the demands of academic freedom, high-quality science and being the best possible community for studying and working.

Communality is the theme of our 150th Anniversary year. One of our related objectives is striving to realise the tripartite principle with equal representation in the administration of the University of Helsinki. The tripartite principle has been in effect since the Universities Act of 1991. According to the principle, professors, other personnel and students have representatives in the administrative bodies of universities. In Helsinki, however, the number of places allocated to each of the three groups is not equal – unlike in many other universities. We do not consider it justified that other personnel and students have fewer representatives than professors in administrative bodies covered by the tripartite principle. We are just as important a part of the University community as professors as well as being a numerically larger group.

Thankfully, a step in the right direction has already been taken at the University of Helsinki this spring: a student was chosen among the chairs of the University Collegium. As a result, all groups of the University community have representation in the management of the University’s highest decision-making body – in accordance with the tripartite principle. To the members of the administrative bodies and the entire University community, the tripartite principle with equal representation shows that all members of the community are equally valuable in decision-making.

A fundamental fight for the future of university democracy is also currently underway in Finland. Throughout the spring, alarming news have repeatedly emerged about the Tampere3 process and how the new foundation university consciously wants to minimise the community’s opportunities for participation and thus destroys the democratic administrative culture that has prevailed at the University of Tampere. For this reason, we must act together to ensure that the destroying of university democracy does not become an unwanted national trend.

Our Anniversary year’s message of communality should be taken to heart on the entire higher education field: by building a communal and democratic scientific community that appreciates its members, we will create the best conditions for high-quality education and top research. HYY and other student unions are doing their part in the creation of a functioning and democratic community. We train and support students who act in university administration so that they have at least as good qualifications to make justified decisions as members of the other groups.

Appreciation for the community is best shown by giving it power – not as mentions in speeches.

Lauri Linna, Chair of HYY’s Board


What is everyday university life for students like on different campuses? What challenges do students face in their studies, and what is the best thing about their own study environment? During the spring, HYY has investigated the challenges experienced by students as well as their needs for support and then relayed students’ views to the University management.

Advocay and candy

― Tell us about any problems with your studies – you will get candy while we will forward your views to the University management!

During the spring, members of the Board in charge of advocacy work on educational policy, Mathilda Timmer, Topias Tolonen and Sebastian Österman, as well as specialists Anne Soinsaari and Jenna Sorjonen have been on call at the Study Pop Up sites set up on all campuses to collect students’ experiences of everyday life at the University. We have collected students’ views from Viikki, Kumpula, Meilahti and the City Centre into this blog post.

The students on all campuses liked library services in particular, although they did wish for more facilities for studying and group work. University staff were also praised, as they do their all to help students. However, there are challenges related to study planning, course and exam arrangements and student counselling.
 
Lecture recordings and exam trouble in Viikki

Pop up advocacy in Viikki

Students praise: Investments in making high-quality lecture recordings, workshops on the personal study plan (HOPS) that provide peer support
Students criticise: Increasing number of lectures with compulsory attendance, unclear exam practices, problems with the quality of Swedish-language exam questions, delays with exam results
 
Flexible possibilities for completing courses in Kumpula

Pop up advocacy in Kumpula

Students praise: Move to the new degree programmes has been done flexibly, possibility to complete language courses as part of a course on one’s own field, up-to-date contents in studies, good facilities for group work in the library.
Students criticise: Delays with course schedules, courses clashing with each other, the scheduling problems and strain of pedagogical studies, lack of study facilities in the evening
 
Large group sizes a hot topic in Meilahti

Pop up advocacy in Meilahti

Students praise: Study facilities in Terkko, Helsinki Think Company’s events, good teaching
Students criticise: Too large group sizes in clinical teaching in particular, unclear schedules, delays with exam results, disappearance of student advisors, noisiness of Terkko

Compulsory attendance on the increase in the City Centre

Pop up advocacy in city centre

Students praise: Think Corner, Kaisa Library, student services, electronic exam room, events that increase communality
Students criticise: Increasing number of lectures with compulsory attendance, decreasing number of flexible methods to complete courses, courses clashing with each other, unequally distributed strain of studies during the year, large amount of independent work, lack of study counselling in Swedish


Flaws will be addressed in cooperation with the University management

―Besides being on call on campuses, we have met with all faculty organisations during the spring and relayed students’ views to the deans of the faculties, Vice Rector Sari Lindblom, in charge of teaching, and Director of Development Susanna Niinistö-Sivuranta, who is in charge of Student Services, Topias from HYY’s Board describes.

Lindblom and Niinistö-Sivuranta met with representatives of subject organisations in April and commented on the problems experienced by students. They promised to immediately address the delays with assessing exams that are against the University’s policies concerning degrees and studies. The increasing number of lectures with compulsory attendance came as a surprise to Vice Rector Lindblom, as this has not been the aim, and the University’s policies include nothing that requires to make attendance in lectures compulsory. However, Lindblom understands teachers’ attempts to guarantee that students learn by requiring them to attend lectures.

― The concern with the increasing amount of compulsory attendance is that it can unnecessarily delay students’ studies. Compulsory attendance in lectures has also been reflected in the decrease in optional methods of completing courses, which further complicates study planning. We have heard of several cases in which participation in a mass lecture has been made compulsory. In such cases, it is hard to see the pedagogical justifications for compulsory attendance that the Rector’s decision requires, Member of HYY’s Board Mathilda remarks.


Problems arising from lack of resources the most difficult to solve

― We have received a lot of feedback on the problems Swedish-speaking students have with receiving student counselling in their native tongue. The positive thing is that Director of Development Niinistö-Sivuranta is aware of the problem, and the University is currently looking for study advisors who speak Swedish, Member of HYY’s Board Sebastian, in charge of bilingualism affairs, states.

Delays with grading courses and students’ difficulties with getting counselling for their problems are largely a result of the University’s decreased administrative resources – in other words, of the fact that there is significantly fewer administrative staff supporting teachers and students than before. In the current economic situation, no immediate relief to this is in sight. Instead, solutions must be sought by rearranging tasks among the different actors and by streamlining processes. The same goes for the need for study facilities – the University’s facilities are not increasing. On the contrary, the trend is towards more compact use of facilities.

― At HYY, we are closely monitoring the implementation of the reduction of facilities and will try to ensure that at least the current level of study facilities is maintained. Rearranging the facilities makes it possible to reconsider their use, however, and teaching facilities should be developed by creating teaching facilities that are more adaptable and enable digital work better than at present. Students’ health must also be taken into account by looking after air quality and decreasing sitting, for instance, Mathilda envisions.

The birth rate in Finland, decreasing for the seventh successive year, has recently been the subject of concerned news items. Proposed reasons for the decline have included financial insecurity, challenges in finding a suitable partner and the social exclusion of young men (news articles in Finnish). According to the Finnish Student Health Survey conducted every four years by the Finnish Student Health Service, the birth rate among university students is on the decline, too. However, some 7.6% of the higher education students under 35 years of age in Finland who are completing a basic degree have one or more children or are expecting an addition to the family. Helsinki alone has over 4,000 higher education students with a family.

Life as a student with a family is not all that rosy – at least not financially or from the perspective of time management. It has been estimated that 60% of student families live under the poverty line (article in Finnish). Student families’ worries about their finances may affect not only the parents’ own coping and mental health, but also the mental health of the family’s children. There is strong evidence in Finland of a connection between a person’s childhood family’s problems with subsistence and the probability of them having mental health problems as a young adult. Answering the needs of students with a family is advisable for the benefit of themselves, their children and the society as a whole.

Child home care allowance forms the backbone of subsistence in many student families, even though the benefit has been rightly criticised from the perspective of equality. In Helsinki, a family can receive around 780 euros in child home care allowance, supplements included, if the youngest child is under one and a half years of age and the family has low income. For the sake of comparison, the study grant with a provider supplement amounts to 325 euros, which is still liable to taxation. While, in practice, children of low-income families have the right to free early childhood education, using this right would mean that the family loses their right to child home care allowance. As a consequence, it is no wonder that many students with a family try to care for their children themselves for as long as possible. They do not, however, have any more hours in a day than anyone else, which makes juggling child care, studies and work extremely challenging.

In autumn 2017, HYY, the National Union of University Students in Finland and the Family Federation of Finland conducted a survey for students with a family. One of the respondents described their situation in the following way:

''Combining a family and studies is like struggling to keep above the surface. You do not have the time to do anything properly.''

In the survey, we also charted what kind of support would make it easier to combine a family and studies. The thing the respondents most wished for by far was a flexible child care service that could be used on different days and at different times – one that would serve them when the parent has to attend a lecture, take an exam or study independently. Child care for the duration of evening lectures was also desired. A clear majority of the respondents wanted to keep the amount of money invested in child care at under 200 euros per month. Private or voucher-based child care services cannot answer this need. HYY believes that the best way to answer the child care needs of students with a family is a child care service that is produced by the city in the form of playgroups but functions more flexibly than the current playgroup club activities.

This kind of service could not be considered as actual pedagogical activity, but it would offer safe care and let the children get acquainted with an environment that resembles a day care centre. The service could function in the same premises with a day care centre as its own group or in premises that are entirely dedicated to it. An ideal location for a pilot would be a central place in the downtown area near campuses. A functional online reservation system that allows users to reserve regular times well in advance as well as individual times on shorter notice would guarantee the functionality of the child care service.

HYY wants all its members to feel well and be able to lead a happy life. We hope that the City of Helsinki will also support and enable young adults’ diverse situations in life and coping in these situations. After all, Helsinki wants to be the most functional city in the world. At present, children under 2 years of age who do not participate in municipal early childhood education are an in-between group from the perspective of the city’s child care services. We would be more than happy to cooperate with the city in looking for solutions to achieve a functional everyday life for students with a family!

Sofia Lindqvist
Specialist in urban, housing and health affairs who formed a family herself after completing her degree and who is eternally grateful for our fine day care system

I am running for the position of Chair of the University Collegium. I am applying for the position because I want to improve the Collegium’s operation and be more efficient in taking the University community’s views to the University Management than at present. I also want to bring the University Management closer to the community. I am the first student in the history of the Collegium to apply for the position. The University Collegium is the only body in the University’s administration in which students can act as the chair. The chair is selected in the new Collegium’s organising meeting on 12 April.

The Collegium is the highest decision-making body at the University. It is tasked with overseeing the activities of the University Board and Management. The entire University community is represented in the Collegium: it has representatives of professors, other staff members and students from each faculty. The Collegium of the University of Helsinki has a total of 50 members as well as personal vice members for each member. The term of the University Collegium lasts four years, and the members for the 20182021 term have just been selected. Student members have a two-year term in the Collegium. Starting this term, the students of the Swedish School of Social Science are also represented in the Collegium.

The duties of the University Collegium are determined in the Universities Act. They include appointing the Chancellor of the University, appointing members from outside the University community to the University Board and deciding on granting discharge from liability to the University Board and the Rector.

According to the University of Helsinki’s Regulations, the duties of the University Collegium also include convening at least twice a year to discuss significant matters concerning the entire University, such as the effects of the reforms on the administrative structure and entrance exams. One might easily assume that the Collegium’s statutory duty to discuss matters is less important than its other duties because it lacks words that express power, such as select, confirm and decide. Instead of them, however, it contains the crucial act that ultimately changes society and the world: discussion. The true power of the University Collegium, in my opinion, lies precisely in its ability to gather representatives from different parts of the University community to discuss matters together.

The role of the Chair of the University Collegium is administrative and bureaucratic but, first and foremost, the Chair’s task is to ensure that the University community gets to have their say. I believe that the Collegium should use its voice critically and to give thanks, both according to the situation. My dream is to have a strong Collegium that acts as the connecting link between the entire University community and the University Management.

The Collegium should be developed so that it would amplify the University community’s voice and make the way our University is managed reflect that voice. Due to the Collegium’s statutory status, its legitimacy as an administrative body means that the University management must place weight to its messages. We should invest in the Collegium’s activities, because the everyday routines of University work can genuinely be improved through it.

Sampsa Granström
Fourth-year student of English Philology
Member of the Collegium in 20162017 and 20182019

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