TREY is looking for student representatives for the next two-year term 2021–2022. Working as a student representative requires fluent Finnish skills. There are 93 places for student representatives to be filled from the Faculty Councils all the way to the Academic Board. We asked a few student representatives what their work has been like, why one should apply to become a student representative, and how it feels like to be a student representative in different administrative meetings!
Why did you first decide to apply to be a student representative?
Annika, Academic Board: “My first spot as a student representative was in the Faculty Council of the Faculty of Management and Business. I had participated in multiple working committees while I was the educational affairs organiser of Staabi ry, and I honestly did not understand how the Faculty Council differs from those. I just knew that the Faculty Council makes all the big decisions and that is why I wanted a spot there. Working committees often lacked the authorisation to make decisions on a level I wanted influence. When I became a student representative, I noticed that the meetings were a little bigger than the ones I was used to, but otherwise my experience didn’t differ from any other meetings before.”
How much information did you have on being a student representative before applying?
Tuomas, Faculty Council of the Faculty of Education and Culture: “I had a relatively large amount of experience before becoming a student representative. I had been on the board of my subject association for two terms, and in the national umbrella organisation for the students in my field for one year. I feel that my background was an advantage but by no means a necessity since comprehensive background material is provided for all decisions.”
Aleksi, Faculty Council of the Faculty of Management and Business: “I only had a little experience, but I made up for that in interest! I had been on the board of a subject association as the communications organiser for a year, and I had developed an interest for influencing the university field. Before applying I familiarised myself with the tasks of a student representative, and in my application, I emphasised my motivation. I became a deputy student representative and afterwards university decision-making and educational affairs have swept me away.”
Why should one apply to be a student representative?
Annika, Academic Board: “There are many reasons to become a student representative. First of all, it’s fun and the educational affairs circles here at TREY are superb in general. On the other hand, you learn a lot as a student representative. My view on the University widened in one go when I got to see how many functions and processes are involved in the University. As someone fond of rumours, I was also happy to know about up-and-coming decisions and to be able to influence them. In the end, the reason why I keep applying for these tasks, is that university democracy does not work without student representatives. The voice of students needs to be raised, and because I can, I even feel that it’s my responsibility to do so. I have heard some wild proposals that could have drastically affected the lives of students if students themselves had not spoken up about what’s wrong with the proposal. Students are experts at being students, and that should never be forgotten!”
How have you combined your studies with being a student representative?
Lauri, Faculty Council of the Faculty of Built Environment, Appeals Committee, Education Council: “Being a student representative has not been at all taxing. There is approximately one meeting per month (depending on the body), and by going through the agenda and asking for tips from the student union, I’ve managed to get a grasp on different matters fast.”
Aleksi, Faculty Council of the Faculty of Management and Business: “The Faculty Council meets once a month for a few hours, so the meetings have not caused problems with my schedule. Sometimes you can’t attend meetings, but that’s what deputy representatives are for. How does it feel like to be a student representative in different administrative meetings?
Aliisa, University of Tampere teaching council: “The meetings are usually nice and professional. You get the most out of meetings if you have prepared well.”
Tuomas, Faculty Council of the Faculty of Education and Culture: “The attitude towards students has always been excellent. Although Faculty Councils sometimes make decisions that students cannot influence (like granting a permission to publish and publicly defend a dissertation or answering a request for rectification of a master’s thesis assessment), I have felt that as a student I am an equal whose thoughts and opinions matter.”
Annika, Academic Board: “Different bodies always work differently and adapt according to their members and Chair. This means that the things you say and do can affect the atmosphere of a meeting. Student representatives should always remember that they are exactly as valuable as their professors in the body!”
What motivates you to work as a student representative?
Tuomas, Faculty Council of the Faculty of Education and Culture: “My biggest motivation for being a student representative is the possibility to have a say in the Faculty’s, and through that it’s students’, matters and the future of the Faculty.”
Aleksi, Faculty Council of the Faculty of Management and Business: “Working as a student representative is a concrete way to influence how your Faculty operates. In addition, it teaches meeting conducts and helps see how the University works in practice.”
What has working as a student representative given you?
Aliisa, University of Tampere teaching council: “Working as a student representative has above all made me braver and given me negotiation skills. When I was a university intern, I was applauded for actively voicing my opinions and development ideas. As a student representative, I had gotten used to talking with deans and other university “authorities”, so I was no longer scared to talk to managers and heads of operation during my internship”
What tips would you give to future student representatives?
Aliisa, University of Tampere teaching council: “Budding student representatives tend to think that they don’t know nearly as much about the topic as everyone else. However, as a student representative, you are the expert on the views of students, so do not hesitate to take the floor and tell what *you* think! If you don’t understand the item you’re supposed to make a decision on, just ask. You have a right to get more information.”
Lauri, Faculty Council of the Faculty of Built Environment, Appeals Committee, Education Council: “It’s easiest to begin with talking to others. Ask for advice from the student union, more seasoned student representatives, student representatives of different bodies, and of course, students.
Tuomas, Faculty Council of the Faculty of Education and Culture: “Dare to bring out your own views and to ask for more information if you need it. It is also a good idea to take time to prepare for meetings and to discuss the agenda with other student representatives beforehand to know what they think. Cooperation always pays off!”
Aleksi, Faculty Council of the Faculty of Management and Business: “It is worth it to prepare for meetings well and maybe talk about the topics with your fellow student representatives. That way you will all know the main topics of the meeting, and you will have a common stand on them. You should also not hesitate to question other members of the Faculty Council if something seems off or is poorly explained. There is a reason why there are students in these bodies.”
Annika, Academic Board: “Talking to other student representatives, members of the body and the student union has always helped me get on track about anything and everything. Your existing knowledge does not help at all if you’re not willing to talk to others. Everything is easier to accomplish together!”
You can apply to be a student representative if you are fluent in Finnish. More information on the Hallopedhaku page (only in Finnish).