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OTUS: Active organisation members are also active members of the university

17.06.2013

Mitä järjestötoiminnasta seuraa? report, which was drafted by Research Foundation for Studies and Education Otus and finished in the spring of 2013, clarifies students' experiences of the impacts of organisational activities. The main finding of the report is the connection between integration into the academic community and being active in organisations.

Promoting the activities of student communities is one of the long-term goals of the Student Union of the University of Helsinki and it shows in the diverse support forms of organisational activities. However, there is no proper research data on the causes and effects of student organisation activities. The now published report was conducted based on the material from Student Barometer 2012. The respondents included more than a thousand students of the University of Helsinki and a slightly smaller number of Aalto University students.
”The recent report gives a more precise picture of active organisation members: the average active organisation member is a fourth-year student who has moved to the metropolitan area, has good connections with the teaching staff and acts in a subject organisation” comments HYY's Organisation Specialist Akseli Huhtanen. ”Being active goes hand in hand with well-being, so it is interesting to know who these active members really are.”

Based on the report, about a quarter of students at the University of Helsinki consider themselves as active organisation members. A total of two-thirds of the respondents think that they are somehow involved in organisational activities at the university. Organisational activities at the University of Helsinki focus slightly more on subject organisation activities, whereas recreational organisations are more popular at Aalto University. It is noteworthy that only four per cent of the respondents who mentioned that their studies were delayed considered organisational activities to be the reason for the delay.

In the previous report of Otus concerning the progression of studies, social integration has already been found to be a significant factor in terms of study progress. The now published report clarifies to which extent the student feels included in one's student community and results are correlated with being active in organisations. A connection between being active and a sense of social integration is significant: those who strongly feel that they are part of the student community have approximately fifty per cent chance of also being active in organisations, while over half of those who consider themselves outsiders at the university mention that they are not involved in organisations at all. Organisational activities also clearly have an effect on increasing communications between the student and the teaching staff. Being active in organisations strongly correlates with the high level of social well-being. Without longitudinal studies, however, it is unclear whether being active is the cause or effect of well-being. Future expectations of active organisation members do not significantly differ from the average but active members are more certain about their expectations, both as optimists and pessimists.

Based on the report, those who are actively involved in organisational activities during their studies are more integrated into the academic community than their peers, have better social skills and are more aware of their own future prospects. Even if all students do not find suitable organisations for themselves, organisational activities reach the majority of students throughout their studies.

Read the entire report (Finnish): Mitä järjestötoiminnasta seuraa? - Aalto-yliopiston ja Helsingin yliopiston opiskelijoiden kokemuksia järjestötoiminnasta opiskelijabarometrin aineistossa (PDF)