Educational Policy


Categories

AYY has selected the Student Representatives in Administration for 2019

The Board of Aalto University Student Union has selected the Student Representatives in Administration for 2019 in its meeting on 18 Dec.

Student Representatives in Administration are ordinary students who operate in the University’s administrative bodies in accordance with the Universities Act. Aalto University has Student Representatives on University level, on School levels and on Department level as well as in smaller working groups. The term of office of Student Representatives in Administration, i.e. Hallopeds, is one calendar year.

The selection of Student Representatives in Administration is a statutory task of Aalto University Student Union. The application period was 31 Oct–3 Dec, during which most of the open positions were filled. For a few positions, the call for applications was continued until 11 Dec. A total of 216 applications was received. The largest number of applications in relation to open positions came in for the Equality Committee of Aalto University, for which one ordinary and one deputy member were sought and 10 applications received.

In early 2019, a call for applications will be announced for a few positions. Otherwise, the positions will be filled throughout the year as required.

AYY is searching for a designer for the web training module for student representatives in administration

Assignment

AYY is searching for a project worker/workers to design the web training model for training student representatives in administration (hallopeds) at the Aalto University. The assignment includes designing the training module, including but not limited to the following subjects: Technical meeting equipment and appliances, Aalto decision-making, yearly clock, development of studies (e.g. pedagogics, feedback, course material), teaching planning development, student admissions, and legislation regarding studies and lobbying.

Successfully completing the assignment requires knowledge in project working and pedagogics, studying at a higher learning institution and experience in student advocacy, a strong knowledge of Aalto as a university environment, understanding the Administrative Procedure Act and good management, and a clear and concise knowledge of oral and written Finnish along with a good knowledge of oral English. Swedish is seen as a plus.

A more detailed call for applications in Finnish can be found at https://ayy.fi/blog/2018/06/26/ayy-etsii-hallinnon-opiskelijaedustajien-verkkokoulutuskokonaisuuden-suunnittelijaa/.

Opinion: Swedish is one of Aalto University’s three languages

For release 25th of April 2018

The Aalto University Student Union AYY and Teknologföreningen TF are worried for the position of Swedish-speaking students at Aalto University. AYYs theme for 2018 has been well-being and equality, and the language issue is essential. TF has long upheld discussion regarding these matters in meetings with the university management, and there have been promises to tackle the problems.

According to feedback we’ve received, Swedish-speaking students encounter challenges both in everyday teaching situations and when consulting administrative services. For example, updating and maintaining Swedish study related information on the web is often neglected, and study counseling is not always available in Swedish. Being forced to discuss such matters in a non-native language causes an inconvenient situation for the student. The language an exam should be determined by a simple choice made on WebOodi, but in practice this often requires some negotiation, which puts the student in an uncomfortable position.

Aalto has three working languages: Finnish, Swedish and English, enabling everyone to flexibly take part in all daily activities at the University. Following the agreed-upon guidelines and policies is important, in order for students speaking a minority language to have equal opportunity in education and efficient legal security.

If you feel like your student rights are not being fulfilled as they should, there are three options:

  1. Talk to the teacher in charge of the course.
  2. Talk to the student representatives, association study affairs responsibles or to the AYY advocacy experts. AYY, student representatives and study study affairs responsibles work together: the student union carries out advocacy in the scope of all of Aalto and supports the student representatives. The best answers on questions of a specific field of expertise can be found from the staff members in charge of student representatives and from study affairs representatives. Advocacy pertaining to Swedish-speaking students in Aalto is carried out especially by TF.
  3. You can also contact the head of the degree program or the head of learning services of your school. You should also talk to your co-students, since the problem might concern several students.

More information:

Suvi Vendelin, study policy correspondent of the AYY Board, suvi.vendelin@ayy.fi, 0407524692

Victor Granlund, vice chairman of the board, Teknologföreningen, viceordforande@tf.fi, 045 1381738

Minna Mäkitalo, Specialist (Academic Affairs), minna.makitalo@ayy.fi, 050 520 9438

Statement on Amending the Universities Act concerning educational cooperation

The Government suggests amending the Universities Act on grounds of the University of Tampere’s plans to merge with the local University of Applied Sciences, the resulting educational cooperation and the mobility of education between the universities. AYY does not oppose the planned merger itself, but rather supports the universities’ right to autonomous decision-making in choosing their own courses of action. However, AYY wishes to criticize the fact that the merger seems to be utilized to amend the Universities Act in a way that would affect all universities’ educational arrangements. AYY finds that constructing an experimental law or assessing the practical experience gained from the current educational cooperation and making amendments later would offer a more sustainable and reliable way to further develop the universities than immediate amendments. The suggested amendments have arisen rather from the needs of a local experiment and politics than the academic community’s internal discussion on their core values and the direction of educational development.

Carrying out the educational cooperation between universities and universities of applied sciences in the way the planned amendments suggest could lead to an uncontrollable situation. The cooperation has been deepened and could be deepened further with the current system, especially with the aid of the VIRTA Academic Record Data Bank. AYY does not fully oppose the suggested amendments, but finds the assessment of the amendments’ effects to be insufficient when it comes to the students’ position and legal protection. The proposal should provide a wider and more precise statement about the student’s right to be informed on the structure of the studies that demand more and more commitment on their behalf.

Detailed statement in accordance with the statement form

Tampere3

Do you support the proposed merger of the University of Tampere and the University of Applied Sciences of Tampere and the forming of the Tampere3 higher education group?

Yes

Do you support the proposed approach on the matter (implementing act)?

No

Suggested changes to be made to the implementing act and to its reasoning:

The current proposition suggests that the University Board of the new university would be chosen by the boards of the merging universities. However, it is clearly stated in the Universities Act that a new Board should be selected and appointed by a multi-member administrative body. Even though the Boards involved in the fusion have been appointed by such administrative bodies, this process would add an unnecessary step to the process. The multi-member administrative bodies of the merging universities (that is, their respective University Senates and Collegial Bodies) should nominate the new university’s Board directly, while taking the prerequisites for the nominating committee into account.

If the current University Boards should appoint the new Board, the university community’s representation would not be large enough to autonomously and freely decide on the composition of its own Board, since members coming from outside the universities would be disproportionately represented in the appointing body.

Educational cooperation

Do you support the proposition concerning the extension of possibilities for educational cooperation?

Yes

What positive and negative consequences would the regulation have?

AYY has some reservations when it comes to the proposed amendments concerning educational cooperation. Making the cooperation easier and further developing the division of labor and cooperation between universities and universities of applied sciences are important matters. However, the proposal is currently very loosely formulated. “The main part” of an academic degree is a very vague concept, especially when considering how much learning pathways can differ from one another. With different combinations of major and minor subjects, a degree can turn into something very different than the one originally offered by the university. On the other hand, the personal limitation concerning the main educational establishment could lead to a situation where the student’s possibilities to choose their studies would be severely limited if they have previously taken part in external courses. The wider the responsibility of planning the educational arrangements is distributed, the more difficult it will be to carry out a common planning process.

The reasoning also mentions that universities should follow good administrative practices when obtaining education and e. g. see to it that a change in one’s study location would not cause an unreasonable disadvantage to the student. The meaning of the phrase “unreasonable disadvantage” is very subjective, and as a definition very vague. It is also mentioned in the reasoning that universities should formulate their degree regulations and curricula in such a manner that the student has a concrete possibility to receive a clear picture of the structure and the practical execution of their studies in due time. However, following normal good administrative practices, even now Aalto University’s curriculum only runs for a year and can be changed even during its period of validity. Even though this currently meets the standards of good administrative practices, it still leads to multiple changes being made during an individual student’s study time. In the case of the merging universities, these changes could be far greater and more unexpected than the ones taking place in a single university. At the moment, there are no established indicators that would give an accurate account on how strong the student’s right to study the way they committed to when applying for and enrolling at the university is.

It is difficult to monitor the quality of educational cooperation, mainly because the most notable way that students can give feedback is through the feedback given on individual courses, which can only be accessed or handled partially due to data protection regulations. To further develop the curricula, the organizations concerned should share qualitative data on the parts of their respective degree programs.  It is essential to find a sustainable solution to the feedback problems before the cooperation begins. If the students of different educational establishments are to share the same courses, and thus the same curricula, they should also be granted equal representation during the development process. However, it might prove challenging to arrange this between the participating establishments.

In the past, even universities have found it trying to agree on the quality of academic education, which has led to problems in transitioning between institutions as well as with the transfer of credits. The amount of differences in the course content should not be underestimated or overly emphasized in the legislation. Doctors’ contributions still make up the majority of university education, and the education also has to be connected to current research. The high education level of university teachers is an integral part of the quality of education that universities offer, and it should not deteriorate due to the educational cooperation. There is a risk that as the educational cooperation deepens, the contents of the university degree, the goal of which is to promote scientific thinking, may deteriorate, and universities of applied sciences may lose their special characteristics related to their own aims and move towards a more generic, academic direction.

Proposed amendments to the draft regulation concerning educational cooperation and to its reasoning:

It should be added to the reasoning that by the enrollment, the student should, as a rule, be informed of where and through which institution their studies will be organized.

The transfer of education

Do you support the proposition concerning the transfer of education?

Yes

What positive and negative consequences would the regulation have?

At the moment, students are left practically undefended when it comes to transfer of education. Even though a three years’ transitional period may not correspond to the actual duration of studies, entering it into the regulation would already be an improvement. However, it is worth noting that the concept of “transfer of education” is questionable, since in the light of recent examples, it appears to refer more to the process of discontinuing education in a particular location than to a full-scale transfer of resources and study places. If the education is discontinued, the student should be granted the possibility to finish their degree in the educational establishment they were accepted into.

The administrative language of universities of applied sciences

Do you support the proposition concerning the administrative language of universities of applied sciences?

Yes

What positive and negative consequences would the regulation have?

The regulations concerning the administrative language of institutions of higher education should be standardized.

National student feedback survey commences again

The students who completed a bachelor’s degree at Aalto University during 1.8. – 31.12.2013 are invited to participate in the student feedback survey in the beginning of March. The survey is to be conducted in all Finnish universities twice a year, and this autumn the survey will be held from 3 to 21 March. The survey can be answered online and a link will be sent by email to the graduates.

From 2015 onwards, the Ministry of Education and Culture is planning to distribute annually 3% (approx. € 50 million) of university core funding based on student feedback. In addition to the direct financial impact that the survey has, Aalto University will use the results of the feedback to develop education and support services for education.

The harmonised collection of student feedback from all universities meets the desire of student organisations for a national feedback process, which can be used to spur universities to make investments in the quality of education.

The survey was implemented twice last year. The results of the surveys reveal that students at Aalto University value the opportunity to study abroad and believe that international experience is very important for their career after graduation. Students at Aalto University are also likely to work during their studies and their work is usually related to their field of study. Furthermore, according to the survey there is need for improvement in interaction between students and faculty.

The universities have decided to implement the feedback survey as an outsourced service. As the result of competitive bidding, the German company CHE Consult GmbH has been selected to be the service provider. The survey produced by this international company also presents the opportunity for Finnish universities to be compared at a European level.

For further information: contact Aalto University’s Development Specialist Reetta Koivisto, (reetta.koivisto@aalto.fi)

See the report of the previous survey: https://into.aalto.fi/display/enaalto/Results+of+the+second+national+student+feedback+survey+available

Also see further information about the project at the Universities Finland (UNIFI) website: http://unifi.fi/ajankohtaista/YOPALA.html