Dear member of HYY! The past spring has been filled with work on HYY’s educational policy sector – and not only because of the coronavirus, but due to other matters, too! All of us working on the sector thought that we would briefly describe what the spring has entailed. In 2021, the educational policy sector included two members of the Board (Aleksi and Tuukka) as well as two specialists (Jenna until 24 February 2021, Marianna starting from 8 March 2021, and Topias).
Requests for comments and statements
Our year got off to a quick start in January, when we prepared a statement on the education policy report for HYY’s Board. The report sets out the goals for education and research in Finland up to the 2040s. We also got to comment on important, concrete study policies in February, when the policies concerning degrees and studies at the University of Helsinki (UH) were circulated for comments. In April, we commented on the principles of the recognition and validation of learning at the UH. After May Day, we still had time to give our comments on the UH’s IT2030 plan.
Together with the secretary general and others, we met with the UH’s Director of Development Susanna Niinistö-Sivuranta around every other week, with the agenda including the coronavirus in particular. Our spring also featured meetings of several different working groups as well as some advocacy work meetings with students and subject organisations. In our meetings, we have actively advocated students’ interests by, for instance, highlighting the need for independent study facilities in libraries and demanding high-quality arrangements for entrance exams. We have also brought attention to the questions related to the introduction of Sisu that our members have raised. Together with HYY’s international affairs sector, we also met with the London-based researcher Jonathan Parker on the issue of student democracy in HYY. We have stayed in touch with the National Union for University Students in Finland (SYL) and other student unions on the subject of educational policy affairs through messages and regular meetings. In addition to this, we have participated in events including the spring seminar of SYL’s educational policy sector and a workshop on the future of higher education organised by OAJ, Samok and SYL.
Other bits and pieces
Fresh winds were blowing on the educational policy sector when Jenna Sorjonen took a work leave to take on new duties at the University and the amazing Marianna Suokas was hired as her replacement! In March, the educational policy sector got some visibility through HYY’s statement on student wellbeing as well as the opinion piece written under Tuukka and Aleksi’s names, ‘Etäopinnoissa on rakenteellinen ongelma’ (‘remote studies have a structural problem’), published in Helsingin Sanomat on 6 March in response to an earlier article published in the paper. In the UH’s workshops aimed at developing PHP guidance, the educational policy sector’s members of the Board were strengthened by the addition of Member of the Board Salla Kuva. In early June, another opinion piece by Aleksi and Tuukkawas published, this time in Hufvudstadsbladet, covering the lack of resources and recruitment ban of the Faculty of Arts.
At the beginning of the year, we organised training events for study advisors and other interested students in the form of Kickstart and Tuning Day. In April, we organised a training session on the University’s finances together with Chief Financial Officer Marjo Berglund from the UH. We also participated in the University’s audit by taking part in the work of the audit project group, conducting preparatory work, communicating to students and commenting on the self-assessment report.
In addition to all the above, we also influenced the University to ensure that studying in the coronavirus era would feature as many different alternatives as possible on issues related to facilities, for instance.
Sunny regard from our sector,
Tuukka and Aleksi,
Members of the Board
Marianna and Topias,
Specialists in education policy