Would you like to influence the study environment at your faculty? Are you interested in student life related health issues? Are you willing to support health promotion?

One of the central tasks of the Finnish Student Health Service (FSHS) is health promotion. Locally this health promotion work is organized through working groups, which include both representatives of the staff of the FSHS, students, university staff and other stakeholders. The health promotion of the students of the University of Helsinki is organized by two working groups, one for the faculties of the City Centre Campus and one for the faculties operating at Kumpula, Meilahti and Viikki Campuses.

The Student Union of the University of Helsinki (HYY) is now looking for a deputy member to represent the students of the Faculty of Theology for the rest of the term until August 31 2019 in the City Centre Campus working group. The working groups currently work in Finnish, so a basic command of the Finnish language is advisable. Please see the Finnish or Swedish version of the ad for more information on the working groups and on how to apply. The deadline for applications is Sunday December 17.

Further information: Sofia Lindqvist, Specialist at HYY, sofia.lindqvist@hyy.fi, 050 543 9605.

The Representative Council of the Student Union of the University of Helsinki appointed the new Board for 2018 in its meeting on 4 December. The Board is formed by the Representative Council group of Subject Organisations HYAL, the Social Democratic Students’ Association OSY, the Representative Council group of Student Nations, the Independent Left and HYY’s Greens. Edistykselliset, Svenska Nationer och Ämnesföreningar SNÄf and HELP will be in the opposition in 2018.

Student of Law Lauri Linna was selected as the Chair of the Board. He represents the Representative Council group of the Independent Left. Linna has acted in HYY’s Board in 2017 as the Chair of the Financial Committee and been in charge of legal protection, organisations’ equality and Finno-Ugric cooperation.

‘The Student Union’s 150th Anniversary is a great opportunity to do big things. We have the opportunity to make the Student Union even more well-known, more accessible and closer to its members than before. We can turn the Student Union into a community which everyone can feel is theirs regardless of their own background and which has the power to fight for a more just world’, the new chairperson, Linna, states.

HYY’s Board in 2018:
Lauri Linna, chairperson (Independent Left), Krista Laitila, vice chairperson (HYAL), Sara Järvinen, Chair of the Financial Committee (HYAL), Amanda Pasanen (Greens), Aleksanteri Gustafsson (OSY), Titta Hiltunen (Independent Left), Jane Kärnä (HYAL), Mathilda Timmer (HYAL), Topias Tolonen (Student Nations), Laura Wathén (HYAL), Julius Uusinarkaus (Independent Left), Sebastian Österman (Greens).

The term of the new Board lasts one year and begins in January 2018.

From left to right Laura Wathén, Jane Kärnä, Topias Tolonen, Julius Uusinarkaus, Aleksanteri Gustafsson and Mathilda Timmer. In the top row Krista Laitila, Sebastian Österman, Sara Järvinen and Laura Linna. Titta Hiltunen and Amanda Pasanen are missing. 

Further information:
Lauri Linna, Chair of HYY’s Board in 2018
tel. 050 595 0324

Comment 30 November 2017

One of the central underlying factors of hundred-year-old Finland’s success story is its high social mobility between different social classes. The high-quality education system associated with our country can be maintained with public funds. Free education on all levels of education from early childhood education to higher education provides support for talented young people to pursue their dreams regardless of their family background.

Finland’s historical success in the PISA tests that assess young people’s skills is common knowledge. In the latest comparison, the cooperation and problem-solving skills of Finnish youth were among the top five countries taking part. In Finland, children’s PISA results are less dependent on their parents’ socio-economic status than in most of the other comparable OECD countries. This in part is suggestive of equality in our society.

‘Supporters of tuition fees do not see the big picture of society. Emphasising the benefits of free education would be warranted particularly now, during Finland’s centenary celebration’, Chair of the Board Laura Luoto from the Student Union of the University of Helsinki states.

In countries with tuition fees in use in higher education institutions, it is typical that higher education graduates remain in debt up to retirement age due to their student loans. In Finland, people can get into higher education without fearing a burden of debt that would discourage children of low-income families in particular.

However, there are bottlenecks in the accessibility of Finnish education. For instance, in general upper secondary schools and vocational institutions, students must purchase the necessary textbooks and materials themselves as well as cover the qualification fees. Preparatory courses that precede applying to universities and are subject to a fee are also problematic.

‘Genuinely free secondary education, material-based university entrance exams that only require short preparation and higher education institutions’ MOOC online courses that are open to everyone could all improve the situation’, Luoto states. ‘However, cancelling the cuts to the study grant made during this Government term would be important. The current insufficient level of the study grant cuts the ground from under genuinely accessible higher education’, she points out.

Free education should not be examined only from the perspective of Finnish citizens. Tuition fees for students from outside the EU and the EEA that took effect this year drive away exactly the international experts who Finland needs in the future.

‘The University of Helsinki currently only has 19 students who pay tuition fees when grants and exemptions from fees are taken into account. It is ridiculous to think that the education cuts that have been made could be covered by the money they bring in’, Luoto emphasises.

The Day for Free Education is celebrated nationally on 30 November 2017. The National Union of University Students in Finland has compiled quotes from public figures who defend free education on their website: https://syl.fi/maksuton-koulutus/

HYY’s Board has selected Jenna Sorjonen as one of its two specialists in educational policy.

Sorjonen took up her duties after working as HYY’s selection coordinator, having overseen the selection process for student representatives in administration. She started as the specialist in educational policy in early November after Aaro Riitakorpi had moved into the position of HYY’s Secretary General.

Before HYY, Sorjonen has worked as a research assistant at the University of Helsinki and held several administrative positions. She also has a strong background in positions of trust related to student advocacy work. She has acted in several different roles as a student representative and in HYY’s Representative Council since 2014.

As a specialist in educational policy, Sorjonen’s duties will still include overseeing the selection of student representatives in administration, training the representatives and supporting them in their influencing work. In addition to this, Sorjonen will be in charge of issues related to students’ legal protection. Besides these areas of responsibility, Sorjonen will also be responsible for students’ advocacy work related to educational policy and related communications together with the rest of the educational policy sector.

‘Enabling the selections of student representatives has been motivating, and I am looking forward to working with the new representatives. Defending student perspectives at the University and in society has been near to my heart for a long time. Advocacy and developing education are themes that are important to me, and as a specialist, I want to make sure that HYY’s Board, student representatives and volunteers receive all the support they need for their important influencing work’, Sorjonen states.

Sorjonen, 26, is a Bachelor of Arts and is currently completing the final stages of her Master’s studies with general linguistics as her major.

HYY’s Board has selected Hannele Kirveskoski as their specialist in charge of subsistence and international affairs.

Kirveskoski moved into the position from O’Diako, the Student Union of Diaconia UAS, where she was in charge of tutoring, internationality and social policy. Kirveskoski started in her duties at HYY in late October. As a specialist, Kirveskoski is in charge of issues related to subsistence and internationality, such as monitoring current affairs concerning student financial aid and subsistence, related advocacy work and informing the membership about related changes. In addition to this, her duties include monitoring the internationalisation of the University of Helsinki and issues related to international mobility.

Kirveskoski also acts as one of HYY’s harassment contact persons for students. You can contact the harassment contact person in confidence if you have encountered or witnessed harassment, bullying or inappropriate treatment in studies or organisational activities, for instance. You can get in touch with the contact person for advice or support to sort out the situation or simply to discuss the issue.

‘My start at HYY has been action-packed, as students’ housing benefits have been in tumult this autumn, and statutory tuition fees have been taken into use for students from outside the EU and the EEA. HYY is known for its competent and bold advocacy work and humane values, and I want to be promoting all this for my part’, Kirveskoski states.

Kirveskoski, 28, has graduated as Master of Social Sciences from the University of Helsinki. Kirveskoski’s position is a temporary one, lasting until 30 September 2018.

The Finnish Government has proposed changes to general housing allowance. The Government proposal suggests restoring the part-apartment norm, which would mean that the acceptable housing costs when granting housing allowance for people who rent part of an apartment or a studio apartment of under 20 square metres would be 20% less than for others living in the same area. In Helsinki, for instance, the available allowance for a one-person household would decrease by 82 euros in a worst-case scenario.

The fact that the cut would be directed towards students in particular was clearly pointed out already in the preliminary debate held in the Finnish Parliament: students often live in shared or small apartments and cannot apply for social assistance to replace their loss of income. The cut would be simply unreasonable, as the spending cuts of recent years have already affected students the most, and many already say they are using over half of their income for housing costs.

Together with the household interpretations of general housing allowance, the part-apartment norm would further decrease the popularity of shared living. Only 10% of students applying for an apartment from the Foundation for Student Housing in the Helsinki Region (Hoas), for instance, are applying for a room in a shared apartment as it is, and the part-apartment norm would further decrease the number of applicants. The Government proposal admits this behavioural impact. If student apartments are left empty, the result would be rental increases for everyone living in student apartments. From the perspective of national economy, it makes sense to make decisions that enable cheap student housing when student housing is supported with tax revenue.

The part-apartment norm is meant to achieve savings, but the proposal is hastily prepared and its impacts have not been properly assessed. Due to all of this, we hope that this norm will be removed from the legislative proposal, as its budgetary impact is uncertain while it is sure to complicate shared living.

Ada Saarinen
Vice chair, HYY's boad

Joel Lindqvist
Member of HYY's board

Hannele Kirveskoski
Specialist, subsistence, international affairs

Ada Saarinen and Joel Lindqvist, the candidates of the Student Union of the University of Helsinki (HYY), have been selected into the Board of the National Union of University Students in Finland (SYL) for 2018. Saarinen and Lindqvist are both students of social sciences.

‘The student movement must create clear objectives for the 2019 parliamentary elections, and to this end I want to offer SYL my skills and perspective on students’ socioeconomic status and particularly subsistence and the importance of education’, Saarinen, 24, states. Saarinen is a student of world politics and the vice chair of HYY’s Board. In HYY’s Board, she has been in charge of advocacy work coordination, communications and subsistence. 

‘During next year, I want to be involved in working for equality to be realised better than at present. This includes issues such as free education and individual-based housing allowance. To me, the student movement is a pioneer that can see societal changes one step further than others’, Lindqvist, 23, comments. This year, Lindqvist, a student of social policy, has been in charge of urban affairs and housing in HYY’s Board.

A total of eight candidates ran for a place on SYL’s Board, while three persons ran for the chairperson’s position. Miika Tiainen (TYY) was selected as SYL’s chairperson. Besides Saarinen and Lindqvist, the persons selected to the Board were Petra Laiti (SHS), Petteri Heliste (AYY), Teemu Vasama (JYY) and Jenny Vaara (OYY).

SYL’s Congress was held in Tampere on 17–18 November. SYL looks after students’ interests on the national level, taking a stand on issues related to educational policy, social policy and international affairs.

HYY offers the newly elected Board the warmest of congratulations!

Teemu Vasama, Petteri Heliste, Joel Lindqvist, Miika Tiainen, Ada Saarinen, Jenny Vaara and Petra Laiti. Photo: Tarik Ahsanullah/ SYL

Graduates of the University of Helsinki still find employment well, but individual responsibility in maintaining the relevance of their career skills has increased. We can predict that artificial intelligence and telerobotics will gain ground in specialist professions, too, and competition among higher education graduates will become fiercer. Career paths are also more varied than before. According to a report by the Finnish Innovation Fund Sitra, one in three workers have changed fields between two and four times. 

Perhaps it is simply wrong to talk about an individual’s career when we could refer to their careers instead.

The Student Union organised a career event called Market for the Multiskilled in the autumn for students of generalist fields. The event included discussion on what kind of skills a university degree gives you and how you can best use them in working life. The tips that came up in the panel discussion can be condensed into five universal instructions that will almost guarantee your success on the job market.

1) Verbalise your skills. A degree certificate in itself does not disclose your real skills. Analytical thinking and information retrieval skills are bound to develop during your studies, but you should not forget the various project management skills, stress management and group work skills either. Extracurricular activities also have their own relevance: if you have acted as a treasurer in a hobby association for wine enthusiasts, for instance, you have acquired valuable financial management skills that are useful in working life as well. However, these skills will not help you if you do not recognise them yourself.

2) Practise your interpersonal skills. The ability to get along with people is just as important as academic substance knowledge. Acting in a work community requires negotiation skills, the skill to convince others and an eye for social situations. Empathy is also an important skill in working life: conflict-solving skills and the ability to take action against bullying that you have learned in student communities are important at the workplace, too. Good interpersonal skills do not, however, require you to be super social.

3) Be active. Internships or writing a commissioned thesis might be ideal ways to get your foot in the door with an employer. Employers rarely expect new employees to be perfectly skilled workers in their own field straight away. The right attitude and the ability to commit to the tasks you start are more important.

4) Discover surprising career paths. You should not regard the skills produced by your own degree too narrowly. Gaming companies do not need only coders, they also need storytelling folklorists. An in-depth understanding of evolutionary biology could be a beneficial addition to communication skills in journalism. When you can identify your own skills and the diverse contexts for using them, you can build yourself an individualised career.

5) Continue learning. Graduating from the university is not the ending point for learning. The most important skill you can learn at a university is the ability to learn new things. People already in the working life will also have to constantly update their skills and acquire new ones. This might mean new study modules or degrees, but it might just as well mean autonomous learning alongside work.

Heikki Isotalo
Specialist, educational policy and working life

Sitra’s report: Working life study 2017 https://media.sitra.fi/2017/05/16144238/Sitra-Ty%C3%B6el%C3%A4m%C3%A4n-tutkimus-2017-FINAL_sitrafi_PDF.pdf (in Finnish)
Huffington Post: Forget A.I. ‘Remote Intelligence’ Will Be Much More Disruptive https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/telerobotics_us_5873bb48e4b02b5f858a1579

Negotiations on the Student Union's board for 2018 have been concluded on November 7th.The board will be formed by the same groups as in the current year: Ainejärjestöläisten edustajistoryhmä (HYAL), HYY:n Vihreät (the Greens of HYY), Social democratic students OSY, Osakuntalainen edustajistoryhmä (Finnish-speaking Student Nations) and Sitoutumaton vasemmisto (Independent Left). This year the negotiation practices were renewed and the common regulations made clearer. The negotiations were held in good spirit and for this we would like to thank all the council groups.

The negotiated composition of the board of 2018 is as follows:

Lauri Linna, Chair of the Board (Independent Left)

Krista Laitila, Vice Chair of the Board (HYAL)

Sara Järvinen, Chair of the FInancial Committee (HYAL)

Amanda Pasanen, The Chair of Supervisory board of HYY Group (The Greens of HYY)

Auli Elolahti (The Greens of HYY)

Aleksanteri Gustafsson (OSY - Social Democrats)

Titta Hiltunen (Independent Left)

Jane Kärnä (HYAL)

Mathilda Timmer (HYAL)

Topias Tolonen (Finnish-speaking Student Nations)

Laura Wathén (HYAL)

Sebastian Österman (The Greens of HYY)

The groups were committed to keep the membership fee at its current level. The following changes will be made to the proposal of the Financial Committee for the 2018 budget:
An additional allocation of 30 000 euros will be made to the employee budget and it’s different subdivisions. This appropriation will be used to fund advocational projects, that make use of the additional visibility the jubilee year of 150 provides, as the Student Union will make new socially notable opening during its jubilee year.

7 000 euros will be added to organizations' operational grants for faculty and subject organizations, student nations, other organizations as well as orchestras, choirs and theatres according to present allocation proportions. 2 000 euros of this will be taken from the general operational provision. The council groups that form the board commit to include the advocational objectives from the draft on the programme of objectives in the final programme. The specific objectives are specified in the Finnish version of this notice. In addition the following objectives will be added to the draft of the programme of objectives:

1. Zero tolerance on sexual harassment
The Student Union will invest in concrete actions to eliminate sexual harassment within the union. The union can for example organize a campaign against harassment and educate actives on the student organization field to recognize and interfere in harassment cases in their events.

2. A Student Union close to its members
The services, accommodations and support should be directed in a way, that they will make render and guide student organizations to act according to the union’s values. In addition the processes behind our financial support for student organizations will be reviewed. At the same time we will aim to make the principles behind these processes more understandable.

3. Student representatives do not have to be alone
The representatives form an active network and know their placement on the field. They are aware on how to ask for help from the union and other representatives. It is clear to everyone where the representatives influence and what information it is possible to get from then.

The groups authorize the current board to make stylistic or clarifying changes to the objectives.

On behalf of the representative groups,

Jaakko Rissanen
Negotiator, Independent Left
+358 40 5141 551

Miran Hamidulla
Negotiator, HYAL
+358 44 535 1666

Toivo Laitinen
Negotiator, The Greens of HYY
+358 44 977 8245

Maria Loima
Negotiator, OSY - Social Democrats
+358 44 086 3183

Teemu Palkki
Negotiator, Finnish-speaking Student Nations
+358 50 331 7815

HYY is looking for two candidates for the Board of Svenska Studerandes Intresseförening (SSI) for the term 1 January 2018–31 December 2018. SSI is an advocacy 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.

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. We also hope that anyone applying to become HYY’s candidate can make it to SSI’s autumn meeting on 25 November when the new Board is selected.

Applicants should send their written applications with, if they wish to, their CV attached to HYY’s registry (kirjaamo@hyy.fi) by noon on 13 November 2017. HYY’s Board will process the applications in its meeting on 15 November 2017 and inform the applicants of the results afterwards.

For more information on the position, please contact Member of the Board Elli Saari (elli.saari@helsinki.fi) or Studentbladet (https://www.stbl.fi/ssi/ssi-soker-ansvarspersoner-till-styrelsen/).