We students have our own positions in the University’s arenas of power – from the executive groups of degree programmes to the University’s highest decision-making bodies. The student representatives in these positions ensure that students’ interests are not trampled upon when making decisions that concern studies and student life. They voice students’ opinions in meetings, advance and defend issues that are important to students and, in cooperation with the staff, develop the University to look increasingly like its students. Anyone can become a voice for students – including you!
Are you interested in making studies run smoother or having a say in the University’s major policies? Would you like to act as the voice of your fellow students in the University’s decision-making as well as influence matters behind the curtain? If you answered yes to even one of the above questions, you have what it takes to become a student representative! All students completing a degree at the University of Helsinki who have registered for attendance may apply to become a student representative. Further information on open positions for student representatives is available in the calls for applications published in the autumn.
The idea is to always improve both which common issues are advanced and how.
We support students’ opportunities to influence matters at the University by collecting useful sources of information for student advocates as well as the materials from training events organised by HYY into one place. The guide to student representatives’ work aimed at international students is a useful info package for representatives working in Finnish and Swedish too, as well as for those aiming to become one!
Are you interested in becoming a student representative but unsure how to apply? Feeling uncertain about what is required of student representatives or what positions you can apply for? Do not let the uncertainty put you down – check out our frequently asked questions that just might contain a quick answer to your question. You can always also ask for advice from our specialist in charge of student representatives.
You will learn many useful skills in the position of student representative, from looking at issues from a wider perspective to project management and group work. You will also get to know University personnel from professors to educational coordinators through the position.
Every year, HYY provides student representatives with free training on issues such as communications, influencing and meeting technique. The network of student representatives and HYY’s Studies Committee also provides you with peer support as well as new friends.
Credits are also given for acting as a student representative, and members of the University Collegium and the faculty councils are paid a small fee for attending the meetings.
We expect student representatives to attend the meetings of their administrative body, which last a couple of hours. Faculty councils, for instance, convene once a month during academic terms, whereas the executive groups of degree programmes might convene slightly more often. The schedule for the University Collegium varies more: there are fewer official meetings and decisions but more unofficial meetings.
Besides attending the meetings and preparing for them, you can pretty much determine how much time you want and are able to use for the position yourself. This could include informing students and organisations about current issues and participating in meetings and training sessions aimed at student representatives, for instance.
The vice members and actual members of administrative bodies can work out an arrangement on participating in the meetings and other matters related to the division of labour among themselves. Each administrative body decides for itself whether vice members have the right to be present in meetings when the actual member is present, so suggesting this at the beginning of the term is recommended.
Exchange plans do not prevent you from being selected. However, we generally do hope that you are able to commit to the position for the duration of the two-year term, at least for the most part.
You do not need to deal with your tasks alone! In most administrative bodies, there are several student representatives. Furthermore, at the faculty level and the level of the entire University, you will get peer support from many other student representatives, through HYY’s Studies Committee, for instance. HYY also regularly organises training sessions for student representatives, study advisors and others interested in study affairs. These training sessions are open to everyone, and we will inform student representatives about them by email, on HYY’s website and on Facebook. The specialist in charge of supporting student representatives is also at your disposal to help in difficult situations.
Any student who has registered for attendance at the University of Helsinki can apply to become a student representative. There are no qualifications for the position of student representative, and getting selected does not require long experience from subject or faculty organisations. First-year students can become student representatives perfectly well, too! The most important thing to have is motivation to serve in the position. Anything considered as advantages will always be announced in the call for applications, so we recommend reading it carefully.
Working at the University may affect your chances of acting as a student representative in the faculty councils, the University Collegium and the Board of the University. In these bodies, an employment relationship of over six months with over half-day working hours prevents you from becoming a student representative. In other administrative bodies, such as the executive groups of degree programmes, being employed by the University does not affect acting as a student representative.
The effects of an employment relationship are defined in more detail in the University’s election regulations. You can also ask HYY’s specialist in charge of student representatives for further information on the effects.
Instructions for applying are available here. Your application does not need to be long, and the calls for applications found on the website will always state what is considered as advantages. If, for instance, motivation is listed as an advantage, tell us why you are interested in acting as a student representative in your application.
The selection method of student representatives depends on the administrative body. All selections are prepared by faculty-specific selection committees that are aware of the current issues and needs of their own faculties. Further information on the selection method of student representatives is available here. The selection method is determined in a regulation approved by our Representative Council.
Student representatives act as the voice of students in the University administration and influence the University’s decision-making directly – what kind of teaching is organised and how student feedback is processed, for instance. Members of HYY’s Representative Council, on the other hand, make decisions on the Student Union’s own affairs, such as the use of funds and facilities, as well as appoint the Board of the Student Union and the editor in chief of Ylioppilaslehti, for instance. Further information on the Representative Council’s operation is available here.
Most of the meeting time is usually reserved for discussion on one or two larger issues. These could include the faculty’s internal affairs or their views on issues concerning the entire University, such as the University’s Strategy, the internal allocation of funds or various development projects on teaching and research. The issues could also include communality at the faculty and its development, for instance – a theme students would be the best experts in.
In addition to the discussion items, issues processed in the meetings also include theses and docent matters, for instance. Decisions on the faculty’s operating plan, budget and other important matters at the faculty, which have usually already been discussed before, are also made in the meetings. As a student representative, you should be prepared to present students’ views on themes related to the discussion items in particular – careful preparation done early enough makes it easier to influence matters!