Now is a good time to check whether you earned enough credits during the past academic year (1 August 2017–31 July 2018). In case you do not have enough credits, we recommend returning months of student aid from the spring by the end of August.

Credits and the monitoring of study progress do not affect general housing allowance. A month during which you only received general housing allowance is not considered a month of student aid. Consequently, you do not need to return the housing allowance from the month in question when returning student aid.

Kela annually monitors the study progress of those who have received student aid. You need to have an average of 5 credits per one month of student aid you have received as well as always have at least 20 credits if you have received student aid during the academic year. For example, if you received student aid for 9 months, you need to have at least 45 credits. It does not matter when during the academic year you received the credits, as Kela does not monitor the number of credits earned in individual months.

Unfortunately, returning student aid does not help you, if you completed under 20 credits during the past academic year, as student aid from the autumn term can no longer be returned. 20 credits is the minimum requirement: even if you only received aid in one month, you always need to have at least 20 credits worth of completed courses.

If you do not have enough credits from the academic year 2017–2018, you can still receive student aid if you have completed an average of 5 credits per month of student aid during your entire studies. (However, this does not change the minimum requirement of 20 credits.)

NOTE! The monitoring of study progress now also takes into account earned credits and months of student aid from the previous academic year or the entire course of your studies for unfinished higher education studies. Compared to previous years, a new aspect of the monitoring of study progress is that it takes into account all credits earned and months of student aid used in higher education studies starting from 1 August 2011 at the earliest. In other words, starting new studies after previous studies that you have not completed no longer ‘resets’ the sufficient study progress.

If you do not have enough credits, Kela will send you a letter requesting further information on your insufficient study progress later in the autumn.

Further information on the monitoring of study progress, returning aid and the letter requesting further information can be found here:
https://www.kela.fi/web/en/study-progress
https://www.kela.fi/web/en/financial-aid-for-students-cancelling-or-payi...

Hannele Kirveskoski
Specialist (subsistence, international affairs)
050 543 9608
hannele.kirveskoski@hyy.fi

What would a day as a student feel like? The Student Union of the University of Helsinki (HYY) and the Aalto University Student Union (AYY) have codeveloped a game to illustrate actual problems with students’ subsistence and student aid. A lot is expected from students regarding subsistence during their studies: they should study full time, get work experience and supplement their income with earned income. This equation does not work.

The game illustrates how complex and inflexible students’ subsistence is: the current system is not able to take into account students’ different situations in life and diverse living arrangements. If Finland’s next government starts the comprehensive reform of social security, students must be included in the reform. AYY and HYY support a move to a gratuitous, personal basic income.

‘On basic income, students could focus on advancing their studies, and getting work experience during studies would not be a problem. Students could count on their subsistence in varying situations in life’, Chair of HYY’s Board Lauri Linna states.

Students’ subsistence consists of the study grant, student loan and general housing allowance. The level of the study grant is low, and the share of the student loan in student aid has been raised. As a result, students are getting into debt at record rate. The number of months of student aid has repeatedly been cut, study progress and students’ own income are monitored closely, and there is next to no flexibility. In worst cases, this causes the recovery of student aid with considerable interest, students falling onto social assistance and delays with studies.

As a whole, moving students to general housing allowance has been a good reform. However, general housing allowance is household-based, which means that the incomes of the people you live with affect the allowance. As a result, many students have lost their housing benefits or have had it decreased. The household-based nature of the allowance has also resulted in situations in which roommates are expected to provide for each other even though even cohabiting partners are not liable to provide maintenance for one another.

Working alongside studies is not easy, as students must be able to simultaneously study full time in order to retain their study grant, monitor the low income limits and graduate within the limited time allocated to completing their degrees.

It would be useful for students to work in their own field, establish start-up companies and acquire societal skills through volunteer work during their studies. The system makes this difficult.

‘The months of student aid may be enough for those who manage to stick to target time. Even one life change complicates things, however. This could mean getting sick, starting a family or a couple of failed courses. Students’ social security should not be modelled on those who fare the best’, Chair of AYY’s Board Noora Vänttinen states.

You can try out the student simulator here: http://opiskelijasimulaattori.fi/
You can also meet HYY’s and AYY’s representatives at SuomiAreena this week. Come and play a game and discuss students’ subsistence with us!

Lauri Linna
Chair of the board
Student Union of the University of Helsinki
lauri.linna@hyy.fi
050 543 9610

Noora Vänttinen
Chair of the board
Aalto University Student Union
noora.vanttinen@ayy.fi
040 731 6120

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


HYY has chosen students of education Elina Nieminen and Marika Tuominen as the Anniversary masters for 2018! This year is a special one for our Anniversary masters, as HYY is celebrating its 150th Anniversary.

Elina has previously acted as the Anniversary master both at HYY in 2016 and at Kopeda ry’s and Condus ry’s anniversaries in 2013 and 2014. In addition to this, Elina was in charge of events, organisational communications and volunteers in HYY’s last year’s Board. Currently, Elina works as a volunteer coordinator for Ruisrock.

Marika, on the other hand, has acted as Condus ry’s anniversary master in 2015 and as Peduca ry’s chair, treasurer and person in charge of freshers and tutors in 2014–2016. Besides her strong background in organisations, Marika has been an active member of HYY’s Student Organisations Committee, acted as the person in charge of communications in HYAL ry and been a member of the Manta Crew in 2017–2018. Marika currently works as a project coordinator at Heureka.

Both new Anniversary masters’ strengths include event production, teamwork, interaction skills and communications. Here is what Elina and Marika have to say about their upcoming task:

‘We want to make the HYY150 Anniversary a fabulous, unforgettable experience that brings the entire HYY community together – an Anniversary that will be remembered for the next 150 years. This Anniversary is the culmination of the entire HYY150 Anniversary year, and it will gather HYY’s members, alumni and interest groups together to celebrate our Student Union. We want to create a dinner party where everyone can feel welcome, an afterparty where people can dance until the morning and, of course, the ‘sillis’ where the party can continue the next day, too. We want the anniversary to reflect what students are like and to boldly reform traditions. We want an Anniversary team with volunteers from many different backgrounds and faculties. We are experienced inspirers and leaders of volunteers, and we want to give the members of the Anniversary team the opportunity to develop their event organisation skills and make the largest party of the student community together in an inspiring atmosphere! This Anniversary is an opportunity for us to challenge and overcome ourselves and to show what we truly can do!’

HYY congratulates the newly chosen Anniversary masters! Elina and Marika will start in their positions already in June. HYY’s 150th Anniversary and birthday afterparty are organised on Saturday 24 November 2018.

Ticket sales to the dinner party and the night’s birthday party will open in the autumn.

Do you want to be among the first to hear about the upcoming Anniversary party? Join HYY’s Anniversary mailing list here.

Further information:

Arttu Lehtinen
HYY’s producer
arttu.lehtinen@hyy.fi

Elina Nieminen
Anniversary master
elina.nieminen@hyy.fi

Marika Tuominen
Anniversary master
marika.tuominen@hyy.fi

Do you want to be involved in making decisions on the grants, prizes and scholarships awarded by the University’s funds? Are you interested in learning how the funds work? If this sounds exciting, the administrative committee of your faculty’s discipline-specific fund is a great opportunity for you!

HYY is looking for student representatives for the administrative committees of the discipline-specific funds of all campuses. Interested? Apply soon, as the application period ends at 2.00 pm on Monday 18 June! For further information on the administrative committees and applying, see below.

The administrative committee of the discipline-specific funds of the Viikki campus represents the disciplines of veterinary medicine, pharmacy, biological and environmental sciences, and agricultural sciences and forestry. We are looking for two (2) student members for the administrative committee. The student members must be registered for attendance and be students of the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, the Faculty of Pharmacy, the Faculty of Biological and Environmental Sciences or the Faculty of Agriculture and Forestry. The Student Union strives to take into account the representation of different disciplines when making the selections. Further information is available in the call for applications.

The administrative committee of the discipline-specific fund of the Meilahti campus represents the disciplines of medicine. We are looking for one (1) student member for the administrative committee. The student member must be registered for attendance and be a student of the Faculty of Medicine. Further information is available in the call for applications.

The administrative committee of the discipline-specific fund of the Kumpula campus represents the disciplines of mathematics and science. We are looking for one (1) student member for the administrative committee. The student member must be registered for attendance and be a student of the Faculty of Science. Further information is available in the call for applications.

The administrative committee of the discipline-specific funds of the City Centre campus 1 represents the arts. We are looking for one (1) student member for the administrative committee. The student member must be registered for attendance and be a student of the Faculty of Arts. Further information is available in the call for applications.

The administrative committee of the discipline-specific funds of the City Centre campus 2 represents the disciplines of law, theology, social sciences and educational sciences. We are looking for two (2) student members for the administrative committee. The student members must be registered for attendance and be students of the Faculty of Law, the Faculty of Theology, the Faculty of Social Sciences or the Faculty of Educational Sciences. The Student Union strives to take into account the representation of different disciplines when making the selections. Further information is available in the call for applications.


The administrative committees are tasked with declaring the grants, prizes, scholarships and any other financial support awarded out of the money donated into the funds open for applications as well as with making the decisions on awarding them. The meeting language of the administrative committees is Finnish.


Further information:
Jenna Sorjonen
Specialist in Educational Policy
jenna.sorjonen(at)hyy.fi
0503255202

In spring 2018, Kela tightened and standardised its policies concerning students when granting social assistance for the summer months. Students have previously already had to prove that they have not got a summer job despite having searched for one and that they cannot complete studies that advance their degree in the summer and thus cannot apply for student aid for the summer. Before applying for social assistance, any possible savings must also be used. Previously, many municipalities have granted social assistance to students with no other income for the summer without requiring them to have their student loan disbursed. Since then, basic social assistance has been moved under Kela, which now, after a new policy decision, requires students to have their student loan for the entire academic year disbursed before granting social assistance.

Kela’s decision is based on the view that student aid is a primary benefit for students. Government guarantee for the student loan is included in the student aid. However, the student loan is the only loan taken into account as income when applying for social assistance. Other bank loans and payday loans, on the other hand, are not taken into account. According to Kela, any income that must be paid back is not considered as ‘income to be taken into account’ as defined by the Act on Social Assistance. The only exception to this is the student loan.

The Student Union of the University of Helsinki considers this policy decision unjust, as no other group of people is expected to finance their basic subsistence – their food and rent – with borrowed money. The policy becomes especially unreasonable considering that the student loan is specifically meant for financing studies. Kela thus requires students to finance the period of unemployment in the summer that is not dependent on the students themselves with borrowed money that is meant to be used to further their studies.

Cuts to social security costs have lately been justified by stopping the public debt from growing and by not wanting to leave the debt for future generations. At the same time, young people who are only just starting their adult life are required to cover the costs of their food during a period of unemployment with borrowed money meant for studying. Students applying for basic assistance are already on thin ice: they have no work, income or savings. On top of this, they must get into debt.

Student loans, just like any other loans, should not be considered as income when applying for social assistance, especially outside study periods. HYY demands Kela to use more reasonable methods and to treat students equally to other groups of people.

Titta Hiltunen
HYY board member

Hannele Kirveskoski
Specialist

 

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.

If you will be studying during the summer, the time to apply for student aid for the summer months is right now. Student aid includes the study grant and student loan in the summer, too. Summer studies do not affect the paying of general housing allowance. Please note, however, that if you have income from your summer job or your housing situation changes, we recommend applying for a review of the housing allowance. All of the above can easily be done through Kela’s eServices (only in Finnish or Swedish).

If you are still without a summer job despite trying to get one and have not found sensible summer studies either, you can apply for basic social assistance from Kela during the summer. Please note that Kela currently requires students to have their student loan disbursed for the entire academic year before applying for basic social assistance if their studies continue in the autumn. The practice regarding this may have varied before, but Kela has now specified it, which means that student loans that have not been but can be disbursed are now considered as income.

Justify the lack of sensible studies carefully so that the person processing your application can understand your situation even if they are unfamiliar with the issue. Your application should also state which jobs you have applied for.

Further information on basic social assistance for students can be found here.

Even after that you can resort to the social services of your municipality to help you out. 

If you live in Helsinki:
https://www.hel.fi/helsinki/en/socia-health/income/income-support/

In Espoo:
http://www.espoo.fi/en-US/Social_and_health_services/Social_Welfare_and_...

In Vantaa:
http://www.vantaa.fi/health_care_and_social_services/social_support_and_...

Also Ohjaamo Helsinki in Kamppi (Fredrikinkatu 48) helps 15–29-year-olds to find solutions in tricky circumstances: http://ohjaamo.hel.fi/

More information:
Hannele Kirveskoski, specialist
050 543 9608
hannele.kirveskoski@hyy.fi

Various parties have presented their policies on the comprehensive reform of social security, but students have been left outside in almost all cases. Students must be included in the comprehensive reform, and students’ benefits must be clearly a part of social security. Will the next Government offer students sticks, carrots or something completely different? Make sure your voice is heard! HYY is now asking you to tell us what social security means to you and how you would reform it. You can answer the survey by clicking here .

There has been a lot of public discussion on the so-called comprehensive reform of social security or basic social security this spring. Sipilä’s Government launched the reform last autumn by setting up the TOIMI project to plan a comprehensive reform of basic social security and activity. It is likely that the reform will be realised during the next Government term.

There is a large consensus on the need for the reform: the current social security system is considered complex and bureaucratic. The reform of social security aims at simplicity, incentivisation and a situation in which as few as possible are left to rely on last-resort social assistance. 

Practical discussion on values over the reform of social security has not really taken place. Different ideologies are, however, somewhat visible in the various reform proposals: should the benefits be gratuitous or conditional, should they be personal or family-based, and do they act as a security net or require activity? Originally, social security in welfare states was developed from the perspective of risk management: citizens were insured for sickness, unemployment and other situations that lead to loss of income. From the 1990s onwards, the idea that social security should encourage people to work has gained strength in decision-making. In other words, if you do not activate yourself and fulfil the set requirements, you will be getting the stick.

Various kinds of proposals for the reform have been made, but leaving students outside the reform is a common feature in nearly all of them. Student aid has undergone many changes, and including students would be expensive, as the level of study grant has been allowed to remain very low – not to mention the cuts. However, students have been the biggest losers of the austerity policies of recent years as well as the only group expected to finance their basic needs with borrowed money, no matter how insecure the prospects. While there is no desire to leave public debt for future generations, this also means that students get into personal debt at record rate.

According to various reports, students’ subsistence is at a low level. Housing costs take up a significant portion of income, and according to a recent report, students remain under two different poverty lines. Despite the constant ‘reforms’, student aid still has problematic areas that can, in worst cases, deepen students’ financial difficulties and force them onto social assistance. A report on students with a family was also published this spring, and according to it, everyday life was a constant struggle for many students with a family.

Moving students under general housing allowance was a positive change, but for many, it also meant a decrease in the amount of benefit or losing it altogether. The historical relic of general housing allowance, its household-based nature, encourages people to live alone and more expensively. Kela’s mistaken interpretations on cohabitation and the difficulty to prove these interpretations wrong have needlessly complicated the financial status of many students.

Students should be able to study full-time. This would be made possible by a predictable, sufficient subsistence. Work experience during studies is also important, but what if it drains strength needed for studying? Not everyone has the opportunity to augment their subsistence with work due to an illness, disability or some other reason. Failures and challenges should not lead into dead ends or endanger people’s subsistence in any case. Students who feel well and have their study ability are an advantage to the entire society and clearly an investment in its future. Students must be included when social security is reformed, and it is time to offer some carrots instead of just sticks.

In the long term, Finland should adopt a general, equal and personal basic income system for the whole country. Removing the household-based aspect of general housing allowance, increasing the level of study grant and tying it to the index as well as decreasing the emphasis on student loans in student aid are examples of immediate improvements to students’ situation. The minimum requirement of 20 credits should be removed and the two-tiered nature of student aid made more sensible. These measures would take us closer to personal, sufficient basic subsistence.

Now tell us what you think of social security and what it means to you – let us remind the decision-makers that students must be included in the reform! https://www.lyyti.fi/reg/Opiskelijoille_keppia_vai_porkkanaa_0129/en 

Policies proposed on the reform of social security so far:

  • The working group on inequality led by Juho Saari submitted its report in March. Unfortunately, students were not really discussed in it.
  • Universal credit suggested for Finland by the OECD: the National Coalition and the Christian Democrats support this model – students are unlikely to be involved.
  • The Social Democrats’ proposal is general security, which would significantly improve students’ subsistence.
  • Blue Reform published their own social security programme this spring.
  • Several parties are coming up with their own reform proposals. Previously, at least the Greens and the Left Alliance have supported basic income. The Centre Party states that it has supported basic income for decades and hopes that the reform of social security could progress based on the information obtained through the basic income experiment.
  • EAPN-FIN, the Finnish anti-poverty and -alienation network, launched a citizens’ initiative on minimum income, which did not include students.

Hannele Kirveskoski
Specialist (subsistence, international affairs)

HYY’s 150th anniversary – the best thing ever!

Epic, surprising, touching, hilarious or dazzling? What kind of an anniversary do you think HYY should have? Should there be confetti, sparkles or perhaps some alpacas? Are you a party planning pro? If so, become our anniversary master!

HYY’s anniversary is held on Saturday 24 November, and it will be celebrated in the form of an academic dinner party with an open after-party. The anniversary master assembles an anniversary team, participates in planning both the anniversary and its after-party and is responsible for the practical arrangements of the anniversary. It is possible to apply as an anniversary master duo, too. The anniversary master or masters will be remunerated with a fee of 1,500 euros each and a 15% commission on all the sponsors they successfully negotiate for the event. This job requires fluent Finnish or English.

Please send your free-form application to hallinto@hyy.fi by Tuesday, 29 May 2018, at 10 am. The email should be titled “Anniversary master 2018”. Interviews for the position will be held on 31 May or 1st of June.

More information: Arttu Lehtinen, producer, 050 537 2831, arttu.lehtinen@hyy.fi

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