Paula Karhunen and Sebastian Österman selected as new student representatives to the University Board!

In its meeting on 3 June 2021, the Representative Council of the Student Union of the University of Helsinki has selected new student representatives to the Board of the University of Helsinki for its next term, 1 January 2022–31 December 2023. The representatives are Student of Social Sciences Paula Karhunen and Bachelor of Science Sebastian Österman. The University Collegium confirmed the selections on 17 June 2021.

Paula Karhunen has accumulated experience of student advocacy work both in the administrative bodies of the University of Helsinki and in the student movement. She served as the student representative of the Faculty of Social Sciences in the University Collegium in 2020–2021, as well as acting as a student representative in the University’s working groups and the administrative committee of the Jubilee Fund in 2019. In the same year, she also served on the Board of the Student Union of the University of Helsinki, being in charge of educational policy, among other things. In 2020, Karhunen was a member of the Board of the National Union of University Students in Finland (SYL), where she was, once again, in charge of educational policy as well as climate affairs.

Sebastian Österman has already served on the University Board during its previous term, 2020–2021. During this time, he has also served as a member of the Board’s Audit Committee. Österman has acted as a student representative in the steering group of a degree programme in 2019–2020, in the University Collegium in 2018–2019 and in the Faculty Council of the Faculty of Biological and Environmental Sciences in 2018–2019. He has also served on several working groups and committees at the University in 2018–2021. In 2018, Österman was in charge of educational policy on HYY’s Board, while in 2019–2020, he served as member of Ylva’s Board.

In the Representative Council meeting, Karhunen and Österman held speeches where they stressed the importance of the University and scientific community as builders of the future. Both representatives also emphasised fostering the Humboldtian university and the conditions of producing knowledge as important goals in their speeches.

– Science alone will not save us, but we are lost without research based on curiosity, an expanding understanding of the world, and education. The University of Helsinki is on the right path, but there is still a way to go, Österman stated.

The speeches of the newly selected representatives underlined that the University needs all members of its community to ensure that critical scientific information is available in these uncertain, even suspect times. The University cannot exist without its community, and the new representatives want the University of Helsinki to continue to look after the wellbeing of both its student and work communities.

– For me, the University of Helsinki has always been the leading university in the country, a pioneer – the boldest, most impactful and most critical. That is also what it should continue to be. I want the University of Helsinki to continue to be an autonomic Humboldtian university that conducts basic research and ensures the wellbeing of all members of its community, both among students and in the work community, Karhunen envisions.

The Board of the University of Helsinki is the highest decision-making body in the University, with two of its thirteen members being students. It will begin it next term on 1 January 2022 with an entirely new composition. The Board makes decisions on the University’s Strategic Plan, operating and financial plans, budget, University Statutes, the operational structure of the University and the number of students accepted into the University. It also tends to the University’s asset management and use, organises accounting and asset management monitoring, approves the University’s performance agreement with the Ministry of Education and Culture as well as any other significant or principled agreements, and issues the University’s statements on major matters of principle. Further information on the University Board’s operation is available on the University’s website (https://www.helsinki.fi/en/university/the-board-the-university-collegium).


For further information on the selection of members of the Board of the University, please contact:

Marianna Suokas, specialist in educational policy