Brickbats and bouquets from four campuses

29.05.2018

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.

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