AYY student rights
Academic communities aim at mutual respect and equal treatment. Smooth studies are achieved with fair play and effective administration. The purpose of these guidelines is to introduce the most important student rights at the Aalto University. This guide is not comprehensive but gives a good idea of how studies and student life are safeguarded. Citizens’ fundamental rights for instance, that apply to all students regardless, are not listed here. We have introduced more general issues common to students’ daily life. Each chapter includes a reference to the underlying rule the right is based on.
Remember to keep your demeanour calm even when feeling insulted. Most problems can be solved with conversation and dialogue. It is wise to attempt to solve problems immediately after they’ve occurred. Alongside with the rights also come student obligations. All aaltonians have committed to follow Aalto’s ”Principles of responsible conduct in university environment” i.e. act ethically during studies, be responsible for the sake of study safety and quality and use the premises with diligence.
“When operating in the university environment and representing the university, the members of the Aalto University community agree to:
- act honestly and with integrity
- respect others regardless of their background
- foster open discourse and the free exchange of ideas
- build mutual trust
- actively care for the safety and well-being of others
- respect private, shared and university property
- use the physical facilities of the university for their intended purposes
- react to any violations in a manner appropriate to their position and duties.”
You can always contact your student organization or the student union with problems. It’s the job of student union specialists to advise student organization activists and other students. They also function as support persons in matters related to legal protection and help to solve matters that students as private individuals are unable to solve alone. There are also two harrasment contact persons working at the student union.
You have the right to study without interruptions. According to the law on universities, you’re entitled to study so that you graduate within the target deadline laid down in the law on universities. The university must organize tuition and learning support allowing the students to keep the deadlines. Tuition must be uninterrupted both by organization and content and no obstacles must interrupt academic progress. You can, however, apply for extra time to obtain your qualification, if necessary.
Tuition is organized systematically according to approved curricula. A curriculum must state, among other things the timing, scope, skill objectives and teaching methods of tuition. These integral parts of curricula must not be derogated without permission. This is to make sure that you can realistically assess your study load, timing and content when devising a learning plan.
You are entitled to apply for recognition of prior learning (RPL) i.e. acceptance or replacement of prior learning. You can apply for recognition of prior learning completed or experience gained elsewhere. The essential element of RPL is that it is an assessment of evidence provided by an individual to support their claim for competence against a given set of standards or learning outcomes. You have the right to appeal for RPL decision from the examination board.
One autumn we realized that due to some procedural changes a fifth year course could not accommodate all students who had to take it. Additionally it was announced half-way through the course that on top of the examination the students knew they had to take, they were also expected to submit other compulsory course work with an impact on their final degree. The procedure was declared inappropriate.
You have the right to receive guidance to plan and complete your studies. Good mentoring helps to set realistic goals and navigate safely in the ocean of possibilities. You have the right and obligation to put together a personal study plan (PSP) and get help doing it. The university approves students’ PSPs and uses those to organize tuition, which is why it is important both for the university and yourself to keep your PSP up to date. Your PSP has to be relevant and can not base purely on peer support from other students.
Students are also entitled to supervision of researching for and writing a thesis.
Students Master level thesis supervisor informed the student unexpectedly that she’s going to spend six months in India as a visiting researcher and that there was no practical way to supervise the student from there. To enable the student relevant supervision so that he could graduate as planned, the student was appointed another supervisor.
You are entitled to get your exam and other results within four weeks. You’re also entitled to know how and when you get your evaluation criteria and how to use the feedback for your academic benefit. This can be anything from general feedback to a chance to discuss your results with the reviewer. Learning achievements must therefore be kept for six months. In principle, learning achievement results are public and theses/dissertations are always public. Reviews must base on given skill targets and evaluation criteria i.e. a reviewer must always be able to explain the grade given.
Study attainment must be registered promptly after the disclosure of results.
If you’re not happy with your result, you’re entitled to dispute it and seek rectification of your grade. Rectification must be applied from the teacher in charge within 14 days. If you remain unsatisfied even after receiving a response, you can apply for rectification from the university’s board of examiners.
A student was surprised seeing grade ”2” in the registry for a course he thought he’d achieved better. The teacher sent a two sentence e-mail saying that that’s the case and discussing it won’t help. Students are entitled to apply for rectification based on teacher’s reply. Based on student’s and teacher’s statements, the board of examiners will then decide whether the evaluation was fair or not.
You have the right to pursue studies in a predetermined language. The academic languages of the Aalto University for technical and arts subjects are Finnish, Swedish and English; the academic languages of learning business subjects are Finnish and English. In principle, tuition is given in a language of instruction. Where the language of instruction for technical and arts subjects is Finnish and Swedish, students are entitled to use either Finnish or Swedish for academic work. Signing up for the exams, students must let the university know if they wish to receive questions in the second official language. Students study plans must include the language they want to use for their academic pursuits. On Bachelor’s level tuition is mostly given in Finnish or Swedish, on Master’s level primarily in English.
If the language of the degree is English, the programme will be taught and instruction made available in English and tests and exams must be taken in English. Universities must make sure that Master level education is also available in Finnish (or Swedish), if necessary.
According to the law on universities the official administrative language of Aalto University is Finnish. Aalto’s working languages are Finnish, Swedish and English. The underlying principle is that everybody can flexibly participate in the activities of the university. For instance one can operate as a student representative in the administration also in English. Students can manage own affairs in all given languages i.e. an applications for extension of study time can be made in Finnish, Swedish or English.
A member of staff expressed a funny attitude when a student whose language of tuition was English made inquiries about his prospects of becoming a student representative in the university’s administration, implying that all the materials were in Finnish. In fact, the student managed superbly as the working language was simply switched to English after getting a new English language member to the administration.
You have the right to study without discrimination and harassment. The Constitution of Finland stipulates that ” no one shall, without an acceptable reason, be treated differently from other persons on the grounds of sex, age, origin, language, religion, conviction, opinion, health, disability or other reason that concerns his or her person”. The university must provide a safe learning environment. In addition, universities have a legal duty to observe the principle of equality between men and women.
In addition to preventing discrimination, educational institutions are liable for implementing the principle of equality and you have the right to reasonable special arrangements, should you have a disability or a handicap that may prevent learning.
Harassment can happen in the form of bullying, sexual harassment or hampering academic progress. Members of the Aalto University community are committed to mutually respectful demeanour. Should somebody experience discrimination or harassment, the university has clear procedures to investigate the matter. Everybody has the right to be heard in a way that respects the sensitivity of the matter. The Student Union has two harassment contact persons who can be addressed with big and small issues alike.
A lecturer sneered at the supposed working culture and work ethic in one country. After finding out he had some students from that country attending his course, he singled them out and started asking questions about their experience with tax evasion. Similar incidents occurred over and over again during the course. The students experienced the situation as harassment. The lecturer’s demeanour was clearly inappropriate.
Constitution 6 §, Universities Act 41a §, Non-discrimination Act 6 §, Act on Equality between Women and Men 5-7 §, 8b §, §0a §, 11-12 §, Criminal code of Finland 11 §, Aalto University Code of Conduct, Aalto University General Regulations on Teaching and Studying 24 §.
You have the right to be unwell. Accepting a study place, students can report their absence in the 1st academic year, should they, due to illness, become incapable to begin the studies. You can apply for a grace period to complete your studies for health reasons. Extending the right to study and granting extra time, the university must take into account the student’s circumstances that can be affected by the illness.
Falling ill, you can apply for sickness allowance and general housing support. Short term sickness or possible lower academic performance caused by illness won’t stop student aid payments. Particularly during a longer episode of illness, you may not want to hang on to student aid; on a case-by-case basis you can apply for a sick leave and sickness benefit. When you receive sickness benefit and do not get student aid, you’re saving your student aid months for later. General housing support for the period of illness must be applied separately. For students recuperating from illness, getting short term sickness benefit during studies is possible. In such case studies in the max. volume of 12 credit points per semester or 24 credit points per academic year is acceptable.
The information presented above assumes the student is a Finnish national or a has a permanent residency permit. For more information on Finnish social security system visit www.infopankki.fi.
A student is suffering from long-term depression and has been unwell over 2 months. The student should apply for sickness benefit as this is his best option to secure livelihood. Sickness benefit payments do not include a minimum learning volume requirement and because student aid payments stop for the period of receiving sickness benefit, he’s saving his student aid months.
Social Insurance Institution, Health Insurance Act 1-10 §, Act on Financial Aid for Students 6 §, Universities Act 39 § and 42 §
You have the right to health care. In principle, the health care of undergraduate students is the liability of Finnish student health service (FSHS). Everybody paying student union membership fee is also entitled to receive FSHS services.
You’re entitled to use local health care services in addition to the services provided by FSHS. You’re entitled to use the health care services of the municipality of your studies even if your home municipality was elsewhere. Both – FSHS and the local municipality health care service are bound by health care guarantee. Students pay for municipality health care services just like everybody else.
EU/EEA and Swiss nationals
You’re entitled to use the same local municipality health care services as the Finnish nationals, provided that you’ve got a European health insurance card. You can apply for the card from the officials of your home country before departure.
Nationals of other countries
You’re entitled to apply for the municipality of recidence, if you have legal grounds to stay in Finland for two years. Among other things, this will also entitle you to use local health care services.
Everybody coming to stay in Finland must have a valid health insurance to be able to apply for a residence permit.
A student catches infectious mononucleosis in summer and therefore requires treatment. FSHS is closed for summer holidays. The student must seek help from his local clinic or from an on-call medical unit.
Constitution 19 §, Health Care Act 17 § and 48 §.
You have the right to study and live in a safe environment free from health hazards. The owner of the buildings is liable for maintenance and repairs. It is also the owner’s liability to investigate the causes of damage. Students who notice problems with indoor air quality harmful to health are advised to get in touch with FSHS public health nurse who will then pass the case on to the doctor, should that be required. All indoor air quality problems in Aalto University should be reported to email@example.com Your e-mail will be redirected to the university’s occupational health and safety manager, the owner of the property and the health and safety representative. Local municipality health protection official can order the person liable for indoor air problems to rectify the situation.
If you were issued a medical certificate due to problems with indoor air quality by FSHS, you can apply for special arrangements as part of implementing the university’s accessibility policy.
It is the obligation of the student health service (FSHS) to monitor the health and safety of the learning environment and keep an eye on the welfare of the learning community. This includes, among other things, the monitoring of ergonomics, noise levels and other welfare issues.
A student notices that he always develops certain symptoms in one particular room. He suspects the symptoms are caused by problems with indoor air quality. The student is recommended to see the public health nurse and if necessary, have a medical examination and also report the problem to firstname.lastname@example.org
Constitution 6 §, Non-discrimination Act 6 §, Health Care Act 17 §, Public Health Act
You have the right to an adequate standard of living. Student’s main source of income outside paid work is student aid that consists of three parts: study benefit, housing supplement and state-granted student loan.
Under certain circumstances you are also entitled to other social benefits like maternity, paternity and parental benefit, subsistence allowance, general housing benefit, sickness allowance and of course free income. Additionally under certain conditions you may be entitled to unemployment benefit. Life circumstances change and different circumstances bring about different benefits. Students with family who meet certain criteria are entitled to parental benefit from Kela. Subsistence allowance is the last resort i.e. all other income takes precedence over it. Similarly to other social groups students, too, are entitled to subsistence allowance, provided that they meet the specific criteria. However, it must be kept in mind that the state-granted student loan as part of student aid is regarded as income even when the loan was never taken. It can also be decided that the student receives a smaller subsidence allowance.
Under certain circumstances you may be entitled to Finnish social protection, provided you have the right of residence or if you have a permanent residency permit or you have worked in Finland. For more information visit www.infopankki.fi and the social services of your municipality of residence.
A student with no assets has used all his study aid months. He will be entitled to subsistence allowance if he’s unable to earn livelihood in another way.
Act on Financial Aid for Students 5 § and 14 §, Social Assistance Act 2 §