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Helgas chairperson speech in audit webinar 17.1.2023

Haaga-Helia quality system will be assessed in the quality audit conducted in February 2023. Student Union of Helga chairperson Janina Brunfeldt made a speech in Haaga-Helia audit webinar about the student perspective for upcoming evaluation. Read more about the Audit from Haaga-Helia website.

“Hello everyone! My name is Janina Brunfeldt and I’m the chairperson of Student Union Helga. Thank you very much for offering this possibility to come speak to you about the audit in Haaga-Helia in students view. 

For those who aren’t that familiar with Helga, I’m going to tell you briefly about what is our goal and task in our community and then point out a few things that are most important in our view regarding the audit and improving Haaga-Helia to be even better in the eyes of students.

Helga’s mission is: “To protect the individual and to enable a community for students. The Student Union represents and protects students throughout their higher education path and Helga guarantees the best experience in student life.” In practice this means that we help the student’s whenever they might feel their rights have been compromised or the student faces inappropriate treatment from other member of the community.

We also strengthen the community by tutoring, organizing events and by giving peer support to studies and social life. Even though our role isn’t under Haaga-Helia we are very much connected to it – our purpose comes from the same law. And therefore the audit and its topics also helps us as a student community to reach our purpose.

In my point of view the most important thing Haaga-Helia offers is learning. The main task is to give all different kinds of students the education they need in the working life and of course give possibilities to learn about themselves. Who am I as a professional? What are my interests and how do I flourish? And as you all know, our community is wide. Students’ needs and wishes towards Haaga-Helia differ from each other and it’s in everyone’s best interest to help every individual thrive.

The new study counseling model is a good example about the versatility of support services and answering these individual needs. We also have “extra” ways to help students: Like Helga’s study help for the students who need more peer support. Of course there are still improvements to be made and with the educational reform there might be an accentuated need for the support services and this should be kept in mind.

Student feedback is an important part of the audit and general improvement of Haaga-Helia. Feedback is collected regularly and in general the feedback system and processes are in a good shape. Of course as we know the feedback is sometimes tricky. We need more answers but students might feel their feedback doesn’t matter if the process isn’t transparent enough when telling what the feedback affects. Students need to get the feeling that their feedback is valued and that actions will be made based on it.

At the same time, I would like to look into our international students’ situation. Our administration language is Finnish and even though this is reasonable in many cases, we still need to know how we get our international students and staff the feeling they are equal with the Finnish speakers. In this case it is critical to ensure that teachers have good enough skills in English to really use the pedagogical methods. English speaking students still face more problems to get a training place even though the situation in Haaga-Helia is better than in many other universities of applied sciences. So when making new partners I wish everyone would consider the international students because we need more immigration as a small country and it would be a shame not to be able to offer the students who wish to stay a place to use their degree and knowledge.  Also understanding diversity is a working life skill that can be practiced within these walls.

Talking about diversity it is only natural to also discuss enhancing the communication about the equality and nondiscrimination plan. It’s positive that this is recognized as an area that needs to be enhanced and us as a student union value this work. It’s critical that the students and of course also teachers feel safe and accepted in Haaga-Helia. An Equality plan is a good start but at the same time it’s the bare minimum. Equality work is never complete but at the same time this plan should be discussed in every level of Haaga-Helia. Also us in the student organizations should look into our ways of work because even though I don’t believe no one thinks equality work isn’t important, at the same time there might be structures that prevent accessibility to take steps forward.

One thing the audit team will also take into consideration is the student participation and also how do we make an impact in the surrounding society. Haaga-Helia’s work and study model is a great example about understanding different places the learning can happen and the universities and work life cooperating to offer the students ways to work efficiently and still contribute to their studies fully. But making an impact on society is sometimes more than just going to work and climbing the company ladders. It can be active in politics, being active in non-profit organizations or being part of different movements. We need our generation not only to feel part of Haaga-Helia but also in the society as a whole. Democracy, involvement in society and understanding how we can affect the grievance we face is something that we as a student union feel highly responsible for. The degrees in Haaga-Helia have all the potential to also offer future solutions in various fields. But this means we need to fully understand the value of voluntary work and non traditional ways to gain knowledge.

I am certain that due to these development processes it is possible for our community to grow as a whole to more equal, more considerate to individual needs and safer place for all students and members of staff. In order to achieve this we need to review our policies and ways of doing things critically in our community.

Thank you for listening.”

Janina Brunfeldt
Chairperson of the board
Haaga-Helia Student Union Helga

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