Equal tripartite representation to be realised in the collegium – Now is the time for thanks!


In its meeting on 26 January 2022, the Board of the University of Helsinki made a historic decision to change the distribution of seats in the University Collegium, making it adhere to the tripartite principle with equal representation. This move is a victory for both students and university democracy!


The tripartite principle with equal representation refers to a situation where three groups represented in an administrative body all have an equal number of members. In the case of the University Collegium, adopting this system translates into a move from 20 professors, 15 members of the ‘middle group’ (research, teaching and other personnel) and 15 student members to each group having 16 members in the collegium. As a result, the collegium will have a total of 48 members.

Before this change, professors have had the most votes in the collegium, allowing them to control decisions more easily. From a student perspective, the tripartite system with equal representation gives better chances to initiatives and decisions that are favourable to students. Students are also easily the largest group in the University community, and most of the decisions made by the University concern us. Equal representation is thus an act of democracy that shows the value of each member of the University community and promotes their opportunities to influence matters that concern themselves.

Sebastian Österman and Antti Kähkönen, the University Board’s student representatives during its 2020–2021 term, heavily advocated the realisation of the tripartite principle with equal representation in the collegium while serving on the Board, which ultimately decides on the matter. We took part in this important task by supporting the student representatives in their work and maintaining contacts with the student representatives of the collegium, faculty councils and other administrative bodies consulted on the matter. We also contacted our interest groups, such as parties representing research personnel, on a joint statement as well as kept up discussion on university democracy with relevant contact persons at the University.

The collegium’s move to the tripartite system with equal representation is a victory for students in general but also a demonstration of the importance and influencing opportunities of student representatives. The whole process was initiated in the University Board, the most important multi-member decision-making body in the University, where the student representatives’ initiative was the initial spark for the change. During the autumn, student representatives from the collegium, faculty councils and other administrative bodies at the University during the 2020–2021 term joined in to help. Student representatives all around the University’s organisation decided to work together for a common goal, and this resulted in a strong stance for the realisation of the tripartite system with equal representation in the collegium on many different levels at the University. Thanks for the change is thus due to student representatives above all – they are the source of true influence at the University!

The collegium adopting equal representation is a step towards the different groups also having equal relative strength in other administrative bodies, such as the faculty councils. This change does not therefore mean that the work for an equal and democratic University that engages all members of its community is at an end – but it has taken a bold step forward!


Marianna Suokas
Specialist in higher education policy
050 325 5202