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