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! 

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 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,

Student aid and income

Have you already checked your income for 2017? You should do so right now! If you have earned too much in relation to the number of months of aid you have received, you can still return months of student aid until the end of May with no added interest. If Kela has to collect months of student aid from you next year, interest will be added to the collected sum. In case you exceed your income limit and have to return months of student aid from 2017, we recommend returning aid received in autumn: this way, you will only have to return the study grant, not the housing supplement of the student aid.

You do not have to return general housing allowance, and the allowance is based on the average income you have reported. In other words, the same income limits that concern the study grant do not cover general housing allowance – the two benefits are not linked. However, we recommend checking your general housing allowance if your income changes. If you already know about your summer job, check out further information below!

Further information on returning student aid is available on Kela’s website.
You can check your income limits here.

General housing allowance and changes in income

Apply for a review of your housing allowance from Kela as soon as you know about your coming summer job and have signed a contract of employment.

You should apply for a review of the housing allowance especially if you have previously only received the study grant, and the grant is the only income taken into account in your housing allowance decision. If, however, you have already taken the income from your summer job into account in the average income you reported when applying for housing allowance, you do not necessarily have to apply for a review. You might want to check the matter with a calculator for housing allowance available on Kela’s website (note: only works in Finnish and Swedish).

If you have no housing costs during the summer, remember to cancel your housing allowance for the summer!

When should you apply for a review?

The principle in general housing allowance is that it is reviewed if the household’s income increases by at least 400 euros or decreases by at least 200 euros per month compared to the income in the previous housing allowance decision. The housing allowance may also be reviewed if you move into a new apartment or if your housing costs increase by at least 50 euros per month.

You must apply for a review of the housing allowance from Kela yourself, and it can easily be done through Kela’s eServices (note: only works in Finnish and Swedish), for instance. The same service also allows you to send in all the necessary attachments. 

The general housing allowance is reviewed with effect from the beginning of the month following the first full month of a change in income. In other words, like this:

If your summer job begins on…
…1 June, the allowance is reviewed with effect from 1 July.
…4 June, the allowance is reviewed with effect from 1 August.

Did you know that general housing allowance can be paid while you are temporarily away?

If, for instance, you work elsewhere in the summer and pay rent for your permanent apartment, you can receive housing allowance for it for 3 months. However, the allowance is only paid for one apartment at a time.

Housing allowance is household-based

General housing allowance is granted jointly to the entire household. One member of the household applies for the allowance on behalf of the entire household, and the same person must also apply for a review of the housing allowance if needed. The income and various benefits of each member of the household affect your eligibility for the allowance. The student loan does not count as income.

For further information on applying for a review of your housing allowance, see Kela’s website.


Hannele Kirveskoski
Specialist (subsistence, international affairs)
+358 50 543 9608

Are you interested in sports? Would you like to inspire new students into sporty life, too? Apply to become a sports tutor now! 

Are you interested in sports? Would you like to inspire new students into sporty life, too? Apply to become a sports tutor now!

The purpose of sports tutoring is to familiarize freshmen with student sports - both the diverse selection of UniSport and independent exercise opportunities - and inspire freshmen to maintain a sporty lifestyle in the middle of busy study schedules. Sports tutors are not required to be in top shape or to be trained coaches. You only need the willingness and enthusiasm to make the freshman autumn of new students even better and more fun!

The Student Union organizes an education evening for the selected sports tutors on 29th May. At the evening tutors will get information about how to plan and organize events and tutors have a change to get to know each other’s. In addition to other sports tutors, our partner in sport tutoring is UniSport, which provides tutors with free facilities and group training, as well as financial support for sports outside UniSport facilities. No matter whether you take the freshmen to play football, practice hot yoga or collect mushrooms, sports can be various sports.

Sports tutors will get 4 months training card to UniSport as reward. After organizing 5 events to freshmen and reporting your experiences, you will get other 4 months.

Sports tutoring requires:
• motivation to be a sports tutor.
• will to organize 5 sports events to freshmen in the autumn 2018.

It doesn’t stand in a way to become a sports tutor:
• if you are also regular tutor in the autumn 2018.
• if you already have a training card to UniSport. (The reward will be added after your card’s period of validity.)

Apply to become a sports tutor by 27nd of May with this form:

Aleksanteri Gustafsson (, the board member of the Student Union with responsibility of sports tutoring, will answer to all questions considering this subject. 

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

HYY is looking for a candidate for the Board of Svenska Studerandes Intresseförening (SSI) for the term 26 April 2018–31 December 2018. SSI is an umbrella organisation for Swedish-speaking students, and it publishes the Studentbladet magazine and organises events for Swedish-speaking and bilingual students. In addition to HYY, the members of SSI include the Aalto University Student Union (AYY), Arcada Student Union (ASK), Teknologföreningen and HYY’s Swedish-language student nations Nylands Nation, Östra Finlands Nation, Åbo Nation and Vasa nation.

SSI’s board will be supplemented during the association’s spring meeting 26.04.2018. The members will choose their candidates for the board. No more than two persons from the same member association can be chosen for the board at a time.

Applicants should send their freely written applications to HYY’s registry ( by noon on 23 April 2018. HYY requires the candidates to be fluent in Swedish, have knowledge of HYY’s Swedish-language field of operators and have previous experience of acting on a board. HYY’s representatives are expected to keep in close contact with HYY’s Board on matters related to SSI. HYY’s candidate will be chosen according to the abovementioned criteria, so do bring them up in your application.

HYY’s Board will process the applications in its meeting on 26 November 2018 and will inform the applicants of the results immediately afterwards. We also hope that anyone applying to become HYY’s candidate can make it to SSI’s spring meeting on 26 April, where the Board will be supplemented.

For more information on the position, please contact member of HYY’s and SSI’s boards Sebastian Österman (

HYY allocates grants for new study projects organised by students. The project can, for example, develop study methods, apply theory to practice or advance students' professional competence. The grant cannot be allocated retroactively.

Throughout the years, grants for innovative learning projects have been given to projects such as a soap manufacturing workshop run by nutritional science students, a saddle course by students of veterinary medicine, workshop activities in an international environmental seminar and an art exhibition study group by humanists.

The total amount of the allocated grant is 5,000 euros (approx. 100–900 euros per project). When allocating the grant, the initiative and learning methods that encourage students to be active are taken into account. The projects that have received the grant can be presented in HYY communications as good examples.  The study projects must be as open as possible to anyone interested in taking part.

The grant is not allocated for the following purposes:

• Travel or catering expenses

• Facility expenses, with the exception of specially equipped facilities, which cannot be received free of charge

• Printing of publications, unless decided otherwise based on the application

• Master's thesis projects

• Such basic education, which is primarily the responsibility of the department

• Remuneration or salaries

• Continuous/regular activities


The person in charge of the project is committed to report about the implementation of the project after its completion latest by 30th of November.

The grant can be applied by a form which opens 16th of April. You can fill the application form in here: 

Please check the information before submitting the form! Information cannot be edited later so you should consider the required information before filling the form. You can draft your application with a word processing program and then copy it into the form. 

The last day to apply is 6th of May at 23:59 o’clock. Late applications will not be considered.

All applicants will be informed about the allocation of the grants by the end of May. For further information, please contact Member of the Board Mathilda Timmer,


Project grants for organisations and members open for applications!

HYY awards project grants to organisations operating under it and to groups of HYY’s members. Project grants make it possible to realise projects that are larger and have higher quality than the parties realising them could otherwise afford. The total amount of the allocated grant is 6,000 euros.

Project grants are awarded for a specific purpose and will be collected back if the party to which the grant was awarded cannot demonstrate that the funds were used for the project in question. In case funds are left over from the awarded sum, HYY has the right to collect it back at its discretion.

Project grant applications should be free-form applications with a maximum length of two (2) A4 sheets.

The application must include the following information:

• Name of the project

• Organising party (organisation/other)

• Contact details of the person in charge: name, phone number, email

• Account number of the organising party


Applications must also include the following information on the project itself:

Idea of the project: What does the project feature?

Goal: What are the goals you aim to achieve with the project?

Reason: Why should the project be realised?

Time frame: When would the project be realised? / How long does it last: a day / a week / other duration?

Division of responsibility: Who is in charge of each part of the project?

Target: Who is the project aimed for?

Possible cooperation: Is the project realised in cooperation with another party?


The application should also include the project’s budget, that is, a description of its income and expenses. 

The application and its attachments are sent to

The application period for project grants begins on 13 April and ends at 11.59 pm on 6 May. Late applications will not be considered. All applicants will be notified about the awarding of the grants during May.

Each party that receives a project grant must make a report of the event to HYY’s specialist in organisations after the project. The report must include a description of the course of events, an estimate of the success of the event, particularly compared to the application, and the realised budget.

For further information on the project grants, please ask Chair of HYY’s Financial Committee Sara Järvinen (, 050 595 0324) or HYY’s Specialist in Organisations Jaakko Kalske (, 050 537 3798).


General restrictions and criteria of the project grant:

• Projects that are awarded a grant must occur during the period of 13 April 2018–31 March 2019, and grants are generally not awarded retroactively.

• Project grants are not awarded for parties or other projects in which there is strong evidence that the funds would be used for alcohol.

• Project grants are also not awarded for continuous organisational activities such as website reforms.

• Overall judgement is used in the case of study trips, with the main criteria being the reach of the event and the appropriateness of the grant.

• Grants are generally not awarded to annually recurring events, unless the event is being changed or renewed in an essential manner, making the awarding of a project grant justified. This should be highlighted in the application, and overall judgement will also be used in such cases.

HYY, the Helsinki University Researchers’ and Teachers’ Association and the University of Helsinki’s local chapter of the Finnish Union of University Professors sent 12 questions for the candidates for the position of Rector of the University of Helsinki. The candidates’ answers had to be the length of a tweet. The questions covered issues such as University democracy, communality, recruitments and tuition fees. Read on to discover what the candidates answered!

Rehtoriehdokkaat Jukka Kola, Liisa Laakso, Sari Lindblom, Jari Niemelä ja Outi Vaarala

This spring, a new Rector will be appointed for the University of Helsinki for the next five years. The application process for the new Rector already began last autumn, and on 28 March the University Board selected the top five candidates from among the applicants:

Jukka Kola
PhD Jukka Kola has acted as the Rector of the University of Helsinki since 2013. Kola is a professor of agricultural policy at the University of Helsinki.

Liisa Laakso
DSSc Liisa Laakso is the Rector of the University of Tampere. She has previously acted as the Dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences at the University of Helsinki.

Sari Lindblom
PhD Sari Lindblom is the Vice Rector of the University of Helsinki and a professor of higher education.

Jari Niemelä
PhD Jari Niemelä acts as professor of urban ecology at the University of Helsinki.

Outi Vaarala
MD Outi Vaarala is a professor of pediatric immunology and head of lung immunity at the Astra Zeneca RIA IMED Biotech Unit in Sweden. She also acts as a research director at the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Helsinki.

Three candidates still in the running
The candidates were interviewed in an open hearing on 12 April, after which the University Board selected three cadidates to the final stages of the application process. The three candidates still in the running to become the University of Helsinki's next Rector are: Liisa Laakso, Jari Niemelä and Outi Vaarala. The Rector of the University will be selected from among the above candidates by the University Board, which aims to make the decision on 25 April.

Read about the Rector candidates’ views below and find your own candidate!

1. Why did the University of Helsinki end up having a strike, and what does it mean for the future?

Jukka Kola

The most important thing is that the negotiated agreement was reached. Now we can focus on our main tasks. The UH was the target of the first strike, and the following strikes were targeted at other universities (but were not realised when the contract was reached).

Liisa Laakso

Failed negotiations were the main issue. Both the employer and employee sides share the view that the current salary system is heavy and non-transparent. We must find clearer rules. The work remains unfinished, but the decision to continue developing the system was made together. This must be invested in.

Sari Lindblom

The negotiations for a collective agreement between the Association of Finnish Independent Education Employers and the workers’ unions were long and difficult. As the largest and most important university, the University of Helsinki was the first in line for a strike. The other universities would have had their turn next in two groups. Fortunately, one strike day was enough.

Jari Niemelä

The strike was caused by broken negotiations on a collective agreement. The strike was a reminder that the people at the University are unsatisfied with their salary development, and the same issue might arise again during the next round of negotiations.

Outi Vaarala

This was a normal, justified industrial action in support of the employees’ demands. The action and the discussion on it made the broad significance of work done at universities clear to different parties in society – and this is only a good thing.

2. Many people at the University feel that collegiality and democracy at the UH have been crumbling. Instead of our University, people have started simply talking about the University. What measures will you be taking as the Rector to a) increase collegiality and b) improve democracy?

Jukka Kola

We have received good suggestions from our community. Many measures are already being taken: better internal communication, transparency of preparatory work and decision-making, changes to the University Statutes (faculty council), Rector’s open campus meetings, development of management / supervisory duties. Mutual respect and supporting each other. Our UH!

Liisa Laakso

More transparency and places for collegial bodies to form their position on decisions that concern the entire University community. The Rector and Board must react to the issues and initiatives raised by these bodies. The community must be able to follow the implementation of decisions and give feedback.

Sari Lindblom

The important issue is rebuilding the trust between the Rector and the people of the University. Communication must be improved. I promise to explain the processes and justifications behind the Rector’s decisions to the people at the University. Fairness and transparency are the most important factors to promote communality in my actions.

Jari Niemelä

Procedures for amplifying the voice of personnel and students in decision-making (e.g. unit meetings, hearings) are developed. The management and decision-making bodies are required to take the procedures seriously. The need for changes in regulations and instructions is investigated.

Outi Vaarala

a) I will increase cross-disciplinary, jointly-funded projects and cooperation between faculties. b) I will create forums where personnel and students can meet, and look for ways to increase dialogue between the Management, personnel and students – by changing the University Statutes, if necessary.

3. The University of Helsinki has expressed its desire to be a good and internationally attractive employer and educational institution. How will this objective be achieved?

Jukka Kola

The most important thing is to focus on our main tasks: research, teaching and learning, their quality. This creates genuine and strong societal interaction and impact, internationally and nationally. Wellbeing & equality as well as recruitment (staff & students) is improved. Cooperation between UH and Helsinki important for attractiveness.

Liisa Laakso

The University has a good reputation which should be cherished. The University’s reputation is based on good research and teaching as well as active participation in society.

Sari Lindblom

The international attractiveness of our University is achieved through the good quality and reputation of our research and teaching as well as a great deal of international cooperation. The international mobility of our researchers must be supported. The integration of international researchers and students into our community is important.

Jari Niemelä

By investing in high-quality research and teaching as well as the wellbeing of both personnel and students. In addition to this, internationality in research and teaching is strengthened, including services for it.

Outi Vaarala

With the faculties’ help, I will establish national and international teaching and research programmes to strengthen internationality and increase the personnel’s time for teaching and research, which will improve quality and attractiveness for both employees and students.

4. The University is equal to its community, which includes professors, other personnel and students. What practical measures would you take to promote the formation of communality at the University of Helsinki?

Jukka Kola

Everyday ways are mutual respect and supporting each other. We do not allow inappropriate behaviour, we do not sweep problems under the carpet. We do not search for culprits, but for solutions to our common matters. We all have our own responsibility, especially all supervisors. Wellbeing and equality, every day!

Liisa Laakso

The foundation of communality is holding together and appreciating everyone’s work and expertise. Dialogue between the management of University Services and education and research work is important. I would promote it at least with the mobility of administrative personnel between the Main Building and the faculties, in both directions.

Sari Lindblom

I will establish closer communication between the rectors and the central actors of the University (e.g. University Collegium, student organisations, deans, degree programmes, personnel). I will send a monthly letter on current issues to the University community. I will organise regular, open morning discussions over coffee.

Jari Niemelä

Procedures for amplifying the voice of personnel and students in decision-making are created, for instance, regular unit meetings and the management’s visits to units. Occupational wellbeing is improved based on the results of the workplace wellbeing survey and student feedback.

Outi Vaarala

I will bring a new management culture with me, I will increase centralised applications for funding and establish cross-disciplinary programmes. I will establish the Rector’s scientific retreat, science academy and idea incubator, into which I will invite various personnel groups and students from different faculties.

5. The University community has had largely negative experiences of how the cuts of recent years have been implemented. The experiences were charted in a survey and a report based on the survey. How will you contribute to taking genuine action against the flaws identified in Professor Sue Scott’s report?

Jukka Kola

Our community suggested and the Board decided on the measures that will be promoted in 2018 under the ‘Communality’ theme: better internal communication, transparency of preparatory work and decision-making, bringing up difficult issues, changes to the University Statutes, good management / supervisory duties. In everyday work, mutual respect and supporting each other.

Liisa Laakso

The University has created a programme of measures based on the results and recommendations of the Sue Scott report, and the implementation of this programme is still ongoing. This must be continued and the results monitored. Everyone’s right to work in peace must be guaranteed.

Sari Lindblom

The relevant issue is the interaction between the Rector and the people at the University. Messages must flow in both directions. I will work actively to promote the wellbeing of personnel and students. I will promote interaction between faculties to increase multidisciplinary cooperation and appreciation among sciences.

Jari Niemelä

The process for taking action against flaws is continued, its realisation is monitored and corrective measures are taken, if necessary. The management has an important role, while personnel and students are also encouraged to take action against flaws. Mechanisms for this are created.

Outi Vaarala

I will strengthen the influencing opportunities of personnel and students and act as their link to the Management. I will improve working conditions and trust with transparency, by increasing direct administrative support, by acquiring funding in a centralised manner and by looking after the University’s interests in society.

6. The recent administrative reforms and cuts to basic funding have undermined researchers’ possibilities to focus on research. How would you strengthen the prerequisites of research at the University of Helsinki as the Rector?

Jukka Kola

Increasing basic funding would obviously be the best way to allow researchers to focus on research and to have functional support services / University services. We must influence political decision-makers: university index & parliamentary elections. Instead of constant project applications, more time for research. HiLIFE, HELDIG, HELSUS, INAR, SSH et al improve UH cooperation.

Liisa Laakso

Research services must be strengthened, especially in order to apply for international funding. The University must demand the state authorities to increase total funding as well as the focus on research within it. Strategic research grants should be directed at multidisciplinary concentrations, and the organisation of sabbaticals should be encouraged.

Sari Lindblom

The next few years must be kept free of large reforms. More time will be left for research when teaching is allocated fairly among the teachers. Teaching must be arranged in such a way that everyone will regularly get a research-free period. The 5% teaching obligation of doctoral students must be utilised.

Jari Niemelä

Getting the research leave system established and linking the University’s own research funding to this. Moving administrative tasks from teaching and research personnel to University Services and reducing administration in general.

Outi Vaarala

I will establish national and international teaching and research programmes with the help of the faculties to focus the personnel’s work time more efficiently for teaching and research. Applications for funding will be made in an increasingly centralised manner. Administrative support for researchers will be increased.

7. How do you think the Big Wheel degree reform has succeeded so far? How should our degrees be developed from this point onwards?

Jukka Kola

Quality and attractiveness of degrees (applicants & working life) and teachers’ cooperation improve. Not all at once, of course, this takes work & time; there are differences between units. Research experience, broader understanding and competence that can be updated throughout life for students. Different study paths make one competent both as a researcher and for other positions.

Liisa Laakso

There is still work to be done. The most important thing is to ensure sufficient teaching resources, teaching of the common foundation of disciplines and clear subject selections. A corresponding reform made in Tampere was successful. Study paths may be further streamlined by differentiating master’s studies and using incentives for mobility.

Sari Lindblom

The central principles of the new degree programmes are career relevance, clear learning outcomes, multidisciplinarity and quality of teaching. The realisation of these principles must be assessed with a monitoring study. Teaching must be developed based on empirical evidence. This is the only way to promote the quality of learning and teaching.

Jari Niemelä

The Big Wheel has begun quite well, but challenges include the status of established subjects and the resourcing of faculties’ shared programmes. The implementation of the Big Wheel is evaluated and corrective measures launched. Investments are made in the internationality of degree programmes.

Outi Vaarala

I want to evaluate the success of the degree reform separately for each discipline and fix the degree programmes based on this. I want to promote international teaching from the master’s level onwards and increase interaction between students and teachers as well as students’ participation.

8. Does the Rector candidate believe that they could take some concrete measures that would decrease the underrepresentation of women when filling the highest positions?

Jukka Kola

Yes, one of my main priorities. This is how I have acted as the Rector and would continue to act, especially in professor recruitments (incl. career path), in good cooperation with the units. Active recruitment leads to good applicants in an equal manner. Leaders of the units have a great responsibility in recruitments/proposals. The situation is constantly improving.

Liisa Laakso

Application committees must identify potential candidates in an equal manner before opening up teaching positions. Equality must be followed in invitation procedures incl. the filling of professorships of practice. Family leaves, recruitments for research projects and teachers’ research periods must be organised in a manner that promotes women’s career opportunities.

Sari Lindblom

Promoting equality is an important objective. Getting women to advance into the highest positions requires persistent work, which must begin already in school. Women must be encouraged and supported to aim high right from the start of their studies. Balancing family and career must be made easier by measures such as establishing day care centres at the University.

Jari Niemelä

Potential ‘glass ceilings’ are investigated and removed. Persistent personnel policy and planning (e.g. avoiding consecutive fixed-term contracts) help to create better opportunities for women to advance in their university career (see also answer 1).

Outi Vaarala

My goal is to have a 50:50 gender distribution in higher positions by 2022. I will arrange mentors and peer support for women researchers. During my term as the Rector, the first evaluation of applicants will be made without names or personal identity codes, which reveal the applicants’ gender. Gender will not be asked from people applying to the UH.

9. In your opinion, how can the University Management promote the accessibility of education so that people would have equal opportunities to get into higher education despite different socioeconomic backgrounds, for instance?

Jukka Kola

Ensure that information about our many studying opportunities reaches young people (and their parents!) and in an increasing manner everyone with the need to update their competences (lifelong learning, open, continuing education). Cooperation between the UH & general upper secondary schools, just like cooperation with other relevant parties, must be increased. Open University is really important!

Liisa Laakso

By abandoning entrance exams that require long preparation, promoting paths to universities from occupational degrees, utilising the competences of people with immigrant background in degree programmes (e.g. the Somali language and Islamic theology) and looking for ways to provide education for Roma youth.

Sari Lindblom

To promote the accessibility of education, the University must cooperate with the Ministry and the school system. This can be done through persistent work and communication. Student guidance in schools must be reformed. We must get parents and teachers more closely involved in encouraging students to apply to higher education institutions.

Jari Niemelä

The University’s entrance exams and study arrangements must be equal from the perspective of different socioeconomic groups. To improve students’ social situation, the University Management cooperates with student organisations and other parties.

Outi Vaarala

We hold on to the principle that studying at the University is free for students from the EU and EEA countries and take the responsibility of strengthening the University’s funding base with other means than tuition fees.

10. Do you support tuition fees for students from outside the EU and EEA countries? Why?

Jukka Kola

I do not especially ‘support’, but fees are currently the prevailing practice in the international university field, incl. Sweden, Denmark and Estonia. Large application pressure (from 66 countries) in our last international application round showed that the UH is attractive! Our grants support the selected applicants, which means that their finances / background is not decisive.

Liisa Laakso

Fees that cover true costs make it possible to increase the supply of education. Thus, they promote teacher-researchers getting employed. Higher education is an efficient way of supporting wellbeing in the least developed countries. The costs of students from these countries should be covered with development cooperation funds.

Sari Lindblom

I am not for or against tuition fees. Now that the decision to collect fees has already been made, it is important to offer enough grants for talented applicants. Developing the grant system so that it becomes more diverse is crucial. For instance, some of the grants could be country-specific or aimed at students with limited means.

Jari Niemelä

Students from outside the EU and EEA countries already pay tuition fees. Their aim is to encourage universities to invest in teaching and to attract motivated students. Quality turns into a competitive advantage. Tuition fees are a part of education export.

Outi Vaarala

Tuition fees in English-language degree programmes are currently too high. With the help of entrance exams, we can select high-quality students, and increasing internationality is an advantage for us, so tuition fees should not be allowed to hinder attractiveness.

11. One of the greatest banes of the academic world is the use of consecutive short-term contracts, with researchers moving from one fixed-term position to another without realistic possibilities of making the position permanent. What will you do to ease the plight of those who are caught up in a spiral of academic short-term work?

Jukka Kola

Really hard issue; easy solutions have not been found. More basic funding (vs. competitive) would help. More should be invested in the post doc phase (incl. career path). A 4-year contract for doctoral students more often (already in the UH Research Foundation!) instead of grants. This is a large issue with many parties (Academy of Finland, foundations, universities, intl. funding).

Liisa Laakso

Permanent contracts would be the goal, even though the risk of the research funding chain breaking exists. Such a scenario would result in a lay-off on production-related grounds. Doctoral and career path positions would be exceptions in which people progress as planned or from which they move outside the University.

Sari Lindblom

I will promote making fixed-term lectureships and professorships permanent together with the deans. I will monitor the process in budget negotiations with the faculties. Tenure track professorships and post doc positions with external funding are important. They allow talented researchers to further their career.

Jari Niemelä

The University energetically takes action against such fixed-term and consecutive contracts that are not justified (legal). In practice, this means permanent contracts.

Outi Vaarala

The Management must aim to increase basic funding, which would make it possible to make contracts permanent. By creating broad, strategic and jointly-funded research programmes, we can make it possible for experts to move around within programmes, which makes it possible to make contracts permanent.

12. Grant researchers are an active part of our University community, but they are often treated as second-class citizens when it comes to occupational healthcare and travel funding, for instance. What measures will you be taking as the Rector to eradicate this kind of unequal treatment?

Jukka Kola

We strive to repair flaws. This has been examined both at UH and with other (funding) parties. Different disciplines have different methods (e.g. research groups vs. individual researchers), so we must be more thorough in investigating what we can do in general and in each unit. The UH is looking for the best methods in cooperation with the other parties mentioned above.

Liisa Laakso

Foundations are encouraged to fund jobs. Hourly-paid teaching is arranged for grant researchers. The faculties and institutes must support their focus areas with e.g. travel grants based on the quality of research, not its funding. Everyone should be covered by insurances and public or private healthcare.

Sari Lindblom

To achieve a solution on the position of grant researchers, we will need extensive cooperation between the foundations that fund research and the universities. Incorporating occupational healthcare into the grants is possible but would mean that fewer researchers would receive grants. All doctoral students can apply for the Chancellor’s travel grants.

Jari Niemelä

Uniform procedures for doctoral researchers’ support and obligations are created at the University (e.g. working space, travels, teaching). The possibility of occupational healthcare is investigated.

Outi Vaarala

As a part of research groups, grant researchers must have equal rights in the research community, for travel funding, for instance. Occupational healthcare is a statutory benefit and only belongs to people with contracts, but we can investigate whether part-time contracts could make occupational healthcare possible for grant researchers.

Want to learn more about the candides? Check out the interviews from 12 April on Unitube!

Photos: University of Helsinki
Photos of Liisa Laakso & Jari Niemelä: Linda Tammisto, University of Helsinki

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

A new rector will be elected for the University of Helsinki during this spring. The University Collegium organises an interview of the top rector candidates in the university’s Great Hall (old side of the Main building, at Fabianinkatu 33) on Thursday 12 of April from 1PM to 2.30PM. The event is open for the whole university community. You can also follow the interviews online through a live stream. HYY’s Facebook event will keep you up to date!'

Why should students care?

The rector is in charge of many decisions that directly influence students’ daily lives and represents the university in both national and global circles – this is why it matters who our next rector is.

Officially, the rector manages the University’s operations and is responsible for the efficient, economic and effective completion of the University’s duties. The rector-to-be is required to have a doctoral degree, vision of research and higher education policy, leadership skills, multifaceted contacts to society and active international experience.

But what’s the perfect rector like from students’ point of view? Come find out about the views of the top rector candidates and make sure students’ perspectives are present in the discussions!

Where are we now?

The election process started already last autumn and now the university’s board has chosen five top candidates whom the university community gets to interview. The top candidates are (in alphabetical order): Jukka Kola, Liisa Laakso, Sari Lindblom, Jari Niemelä and Outi Vaarala. You can find more information about the candidates at the university’s website (unfortunately only in Finnish).

How is the rector elected?

After this interview session, the university’s board will hear the university Collegium’s view on the selection. The university’s board aims to select the new rector in its meeting on 25 April. The term of the new rector will start on 1 August 2018.