The new Board of the Student Union of the University of Oulu hopes for a communal university

The OYY Executive Board for 2022 came to order during a meeting on January 24. The new Board was chosen during a Council meeting on December 15, 2021. The eight-member Board consists of a colourful bunch of students from different fields with all of them aiming for a common goal for the term: a communal […]

TEKSTI Tuuli Heikura

KUVAT Tuuli Heikura

The OYY Executive Board for 2022 came to order during a meeting on January 24. The new Board was chosen during a Council meeting on December 15, 2021. The eight-member Board consists of a colourful bunch of students from different fields with all of them aiming for a common goal for the term: a communal and visible OYY.

The term for the 2022 Board of the Student Union of the University of Oulu is coloured by various projects to re-shape the work of OYY – re-branding, renewing the Policy Document, and wellbeing and organisational projects. “Led by these projects, we’ll honour our mission to advocate for a good life for students.”

“The wellbeing project funding received from the Ministry of Education and Culture will allow us to concentrate resources on supporting wellbeing. In particular, the effects of the corona pandemic will most likely be perceptible for a long time, and we hope to do our part in reducing the negative impact with the help of the wellbeing project.

The re-branding mainly aims to enhance communication. The goal of the re-branding is a consistent visual interface that is clearer, more visible and recognisable. Additionally, the website will be improved in order to make the services more visible and to give students easier access to the information. The mandate to renew the Policy Document came from the Council of Representatives. The aim of the renewal is to update the big policies to better match today’s needs.

“We want the next Board to inherit a communal Student Union. Our goal is to further the mindset that you should be proud to be a student at University of Oulu, to help the students have a clear feeling of community, and to strengthen the identity of the student from Oulu.” The motto of OYY is “A good life for students.” This is also the guiding principle for all of the Board’s work; to continuously improve the education and wellbeing of the students.

Under the prevailing corona conditions, the work of the Board is also impacted through uncertain prospects for the future. “It’s quite difficult to predict the future. Concrete execution methods for the ongoing projects are still uncertain, as we don’t know what the situation will be, for example, a few months or half a year from now.” Particularly the development of organisational cooperation and the wellbeing project are still finding their shape regarding the execution.

Students advocating for students

The members of the Board want to emphasise that they’re sitting at this table for the sake of the students. “As clichéd as it sounds, we’re here for you. We think about the students and their benefit in all we do. We wish to efficiently cooperate with the students.” OYY has been criticised for being distant to the students. The Board wishes to change this. Previous Boards have had the same goal. “We must improve in emphasising the purpose of OYY and the significance of the Board as advocates for the students”, says Chairperson Lotta Leinonen.

Iikka Kokkoniemi adds that although many of the members have moved on from subject society work to a different organisation, he hopes that they will still be regarded as easy to approach. “I’m still the same person and a student, just like everyone else.” Reform of organisational cooperation is also hoped to improve the situation. “Closer cooperation helps bring the OYY Board closer to guilds and interest societies”, mentions Viljami Viinikka who works in the society sector.

The Board has already faced criticism after publishing a statement on January 27, 2022, aiming to appeal to decision-makers, calling for forward-looking decisions. In the statement, the OYY Board suggests that in the long run, new construction is the more sustainable and cost-efficient solution, in comparison to renovating the Linnanmaa campus. However, the statement has been interpreted as a sign of support for the city campus project, which has evoked lots of negative conversations amongst students that oppose the project.

The aim of the statement was to introduce a new perspective to accompany previous statements. “We wanted to emphasise the students’ need to study in a healthy and safe environment”, comments the Chairperson of the OYY Board Lotta Leinonen and the 2. Vice Chair Suvi-Anna Salminen. Leinonen acknowledges that bold advocacy work can put you in a vulnerable position. However, she emphasises that conversations should have room for open discussion and varying viewpoints, and everyone should be respected.

Lotta Leinonen, Business studies / Chair of the Board

Why did you apply for Board membership?

When I was thinking about where to find new challenges and to utilise my previous experience from subject society level, OYY seemed interesting. I noticed that the matters dealt with there are relevant to my interests. It also gives me valuable experience in organisational Board work.

What do you wish to achieve in the Board?

To improve the visibility of OYY, to students and other interest groups, so that we can be a partner that’s seen and heard by everybody. I want to take advantage of the platforms given to me and continue OYY’s long-standing work.

Previous activities

2016-2017 Chair of The Board of the upper secondary school student body, Youth Council

2019 > Deputy member of the Council of Representatives

2019 Finanssi ry, Academic Affairs Committee

2020 > Halloped

2020 Finanssi ry, Member of The Board, Specialist in Academic Affairs

2021 Finanssi ry, The Chairman of The Board, Vice Chair of the Student Associations’ Chairpersons’ Network of The Finnish Business School Graduates

Viljami Viinikka, Chemistry / 1. Vice Chair of the Board, Societies

Why did you apply for Board membership?

I’ve been running around in different meetings and places of advocacy since I was little, so the work feels natural – this is sort of a natural continuation for an organisational career.

What do you wish to achieve in the Board?

Through organisations, I want to bring OYY closer to the students and make the advocacy that happens behind the scenes more transparent. One of my projects is reforming the Järjestökummi-activity. I also aim to increase the involvement of Kontinkangas campus.

Previous activities

2013-2014 The Board of the upper secondary school student body

2015 The Board of 4H Lumijoki, Vice Chair

2018 Valenssi ry

2020 OLuT ry, Chair of The Board

2021 Mölkky- ja kyykkäseura, Vice Chair and person in charge of competitions

Suvi-Anna Salminen, Finnish language / 2. Vice Chair of the Board, Communications

Why did you apply for Board membership?

Throughout my studies, the Student Union has felt close to me. I wanted to be able to do advocacy work on a wider scale. I also gain valuable experience in organisational communication and self-improvement from the point of view of, both, advocacy and professional work.

What do you wish to achieve in the Board?

To improve my own know-how in communication and to learn about organisational work and advocacy. Re-branding will be an important part of my year in the Board and I wish to complete it properly and thus strengthen OYY’s position and visibility amongst student services.

Previous activities

2015 Chair of The Board of the upper secondary school student body

2019-2020 Suma ry, secretary

2020-2021 Suma ry, the Board, Specialist in Academic Affairs, Specialist in Social Affairs

2022 Member of the Council of Representatives

Tiitu-Lotta Paju, Process engineering / Events

Why did you apply for Board membership?

I wanted new experiences and to continue advocacy work. I was motivated to apply by the desire to have students of technology involved in Student Union decision-making.

What do you wish to achieve in the Board?

My goal is to create interesting, relevant events for students and make OYY more visible for the university community through them.

Previous activities

2017-2020 Youth Committee of The Finnish Red Cross

2019 > Oulun yliopiston Prosessikilta ry (Guild for process engineering)

2019 Technical Students Association Oulu

2021 Technical Students Association Oulu, secretary and member of the Board

Iikka Kokkoniemi, Teacher of Mathematical Subjects / Social affairs

Why did you apply for Board membership?

I’ve been a deputy member in the Representative Council for two years, but I felt like I didn’t have enough know-how or courage to work in the Board. Participating in the Board meeting of the National Union of University Students in Finland gave me my first experience of being able to make a difference and bring forth my own viewpoint despite not having much knowledge.

What do you wish to achieve in the Board?

As clichéd as it sounds, I want to grow as a person and expand my own knowledge to prepare myself for work life, and to have a deeper understanding of things.

Previous activities

2019 Sigma ry, spokesman

2020 The Board of OLuT ry, secretary

2020 LuOpiO ry, treasurer

2019-2020 Deputy member of the Council of Representatives

2020-2021 Science Students, group leader

2020 OYY Representative, SYL Congress

2021 Ohari ry, Specialist in Social Affairs

2021 Lapio ry reformation, secretary and relations

2021 OLuT ry, event coordinator

Lotta Ellonen, Education / Academic affairs

Why did you apply for Board membership?

I’m interested in advocating for all students, and OYY gives me experience in that. I have previously worked in organisations that have only recently been formed, so OYY provides a good counterbalance to that. It also helps me gain good experience in working in a larger organisation.

What do you wish to achieve in the Board?

To focus on academic affairs because I want to learn about the way the university makes decisions. A big project will be renewing the Policy Document. I also aim to develop the university’s internal peer supported academic affairs activity, so that high quality academic affairs activity is also accessible on a subject society level.

Previous activities

2017-2018 Motiva ry, events, new student orientation and photography

2019 Umbrella Guild Kaski, communications and advocacy

2019 Motiva ry, Treasurer, SKOL coordinator, GDPR coordinator

2019 Deputy member of the Council of Representatives

2020 Oulu Entrepreneurship Society, secretary and community

2020-2022 SKOL coordinator, EPALE ambassador

2020-2021 Member of the Council of Representatives

Arwa Benkherouf, Architecture / International affairs

Why did you apply for Board membership?

It has always been my dream to be in a position of influence and leadership. It doesn’t really matter where as long as I get to influence and further change. I am primarily interested in Student Services, where I can provide direct help and support to students. Working for the board is a great possibility to fulfil this dream and to develop my leadership skills.

What do you wish to achieve in the Board?

I want to develop my leadership and negotiation skills, while giving back to the student community that has accepted me to be a part of it and showed me, what student life is.

Previous activities

2020 Halloped, students’ wellbeing working group and equality and diversity committees

2020-2021 Kummi activity

2020 Self-Hack, facilitator

Essi Leinonen, Health Sciences / Wellbeing

Why did you apply for Board membership?

I have previous experience on student body and school advocacy levels, so I was aware of the demands and gains of board work. My decision was also impacted by the desire to make the Kontinkangas campus side more visible in the Board.

What do you wish to achieve in the Board?

The most important thing for me is to bring the students’ wellbeing to the centre, to advance the production of high quality services and opportunities to take care of the wellbeing of myself and the community through, both, local and national advocacy work. Personally, I want to grow as a person.

Previous activities

2015-2016 OSASTO ry, Specialist in International Affairs, secretary, events, tutoring

2016 OSAKO Council of Representatives

2017 OSAKO Chair of the Board

2018 OSAKO Council of Representatives, Vice Chair

Tuuli Heikura

Oulun ylioppilaslehden päätoimittaja ja kauppatieteiden maisteri, joka nauttii syväluotaavista ilmiöjutuista, kuluttaa lenkkipolkuja kahden koiransa kanssa ja haaveilee mankelin omistamisesta.

Lue lisää:

Studying to go back to normal in autumn – Rector Jouko Niinimäki says teachers will decide

It’s not yet been decided whether studies this autumn will go back to normal or stay remote, says Jouko Niinimäki, the rector of the University of Oulu. The goal, however, is to return to normal.  “We hope and believe that we can get back to normal by autumn. At the moment, we believe that the […]

TEKSTI Iida Putkonen

KUVAT Iida Putkonen

It’s not yet been decided whether studies this autumn will go back to normal or stay remote, says Jouko Niinimäki, the rector of the University of Oulu. The goal, however, is to return to normal. 

“We hope and believe that we can get back to normal by autumn. At the moment, we believe that the corona situation will in any case calm down for summer. It’s safe to assume that all adults will have at least one dose of the vaccine by August.”

Niinimäki says that national or regional exit-plans may restrict the university’s hopes, as they will decide in which order services will return back to normal. The university has announced earlier that it’s preparing to organise courses as contact-teaching from the 1st of August onwards.

According to the rector, the university hasn’t made any exact plans about transferring to contact-teaching nor planned separate guides for teachers.

“No instructions for autumn have been planned, and there won’t be any guides from the university management. Instead, they’ll be decisions made by teachers and students on the field”, Niinimäki comments.

When last autumn contact-teaching was mainly secured for freshmen, this time around the goal is to offer contact-teaching for everyone. The hope is that everyone could start normally, Niinimäki says. However, it’s not purely a return to the old normal.

“During the pandemic, we’ve learned some things both in work and study life that we want to keep. I believe that neither students nor teachers want to return to quite the same daily routine as before the pandemic, but instead some remote work will become permanent.”

According to Niinimäki, remote studies have brought people more freedom and decision-making power about their own schedules. However, it’s not the purpose to get stuck with remote work forever.

“Contact-teaching is extremely important, and the university will continue to keep offering contact-teaching as much as possible. It’s well known even through research that time spent together with the teacher improves learning.”

However, mass lectures for hundreds of students might benefit from being remote in the future as well, the rector thinks. If the teaching is one-sided, there’s not that much of a difference whether teaching happens in the same physical location.

Entrance exams to test things out 

For this spring, teaching will continue remotely, but contact-teaching will be tested with the spring’s entrance examinations. Last spring universities arranged entrance examinations through alternative methods, such as digital exams and acceptance based on grades. The changes of the criteria received critiquing, which Niinimäki agrees with.  

“The critiquing was justifiable, and I agree with it. Because of it, universities have now decided to arrange entrance examinations in person. When you look at the national corona situation, I’m confident that it’s going to be fine.”

Niinimäki emphasises the increased safety measures of the exams and the fact that there’s enough space for each candidate on campus. However, there’s still a problem with examinations being arranged in person: if a candidate is in quarantine, they can’t participate in the exams this year at all. The common guide for universities states that a candidate who’s otherwise ill, in a voluntary quarantine or waiting for test results must also not participate in the exam.

“Due to getting ill, there might be individual injustices. They’re sad things and personal tragedies, but as for corona, you can say that if someone wants to protect themselves from an infection before the exam, all needed means are available.”

This year 20 133 people applied for the University of Oulu, which is over 3000 more applicants than last year. Despite the large number of candidates, rector Niinimäki is positive that the University will get through the examinations safely.

“I hope that people coming to the examinations live so they won’t get an infection before the examination. I trust that things will go well in Oulu, and that an easier time will dawn by autumn.”

In practice an easier time in autumn would mean contact learning for both new and old students and a return to the old normal in August.

Iida Putkonen

Oulun ylioppilaslehden entinen päätoimittaja. Tiedeviestinnän maisteri ja glögin ympärivuotinen kuluttaja. Etsii revontulia, riippumattoja ja juuri oikeita sanoja.

Lue lisää:

Timi Kärki chosen as OYY’s Project Coordinator, Kati Kantonen as Event Producer and Eetu Leinonen as Community Specialist

Three new employees will start working in the Student Union of the University of Oulu (OYY). The position of Project Coordinator in a project related to welfare tutors and the positions of Event Producer and Community Specialist in the student union were opened earlier this year. The first new employee was selected at the OYY […]

Three new employees will start working in the Student Union of the University of Oulu (OYY). The position of Project Coordinator in a project related to welfare tutors and the positions of Event Producer and Community Specialist in the student union were opened earlier this year.

The first new employee was selected at the OYY board meeting on March 5th. Timi Kärki was elected as the coordinator of the welfare project supported by the Ministry of Education and Culture.

Kärki studies history at the University of Oulu and has previously been a part of OYY’s Student Council. He started working for OYY last week. By the deadline, 15 people applied for the position of Project Coordinator, three of whom were interviewed. The Project Coordinator is scheduled to work until the end of 2022 to promote well-being tutor activities at the University of Oulu.

“It feels weird to jump from a student’s role to an expert’s position all of a sudden. It’s great to get to do meaningful work and strive to improve student well-being on a larger scale than before. I strive for everyone to have the opportunity to find a suitable hobby and also find new friends from hobbies”, Kärki commented to the magazine.

Last Thursday, March 25, OYY’s Board selected a new Event Producer and Community Specialist for the Student Union. In the past, job titles have belonged to one employee, Specialist of Events and Associations. Following the resignation of the previous Specialist of Events and Associations the titles were separated in February 2021.

Kati Kantonen was chosen as the OYY’s Event Producer last Thursday. Kantonen has a Master’s in Education from University of Jyväskylä. Nine people applied for the Event Producer position, three of whom were interviewed. Among other things, the Event Producer is responsible for organizing the opening event of the academic year.

Eetu Leinonen was chosen as the Community Specialist from 11 applicants and four interviewees. Leinonen is studying statistics and the Finnish language at the University of Oulu. He served as Chairman of OYY’s Board 2020 and as a substitute for OYY’s Specialist of Academic Affairs in early 2021. Leinonen began his work as a Community Specialist on Monday, March 29. The role of the Community Specialist is fixed-term and will last until the end of 2022.

“My goal in this work is to be present to students and organizations. In addition, in my work I seek to develop the community spirit of the university and the Student Union and to monitor interests, especially in international matters. I’m enthusiastic at the moment and I hope to be able to start work full steam ahead soon”, Leinonen told the magazine on his first working day.

OYY’s Secretary General Kauko Keskisärkkä says that he is satisfied with the choices.

“The chosen ones represent very different backgrounds: Leinonen, who is more familiar with OYY, Kärki, who is a little familiar with OYY, and Kantonen, who brings a completely new perspective,” says Keskisärkkä.

Iida Putkonen

Oulun ylioppilaslehden entinen päätoimittaja. Tiedeviestinnän maisteri ja glögin ympärivuotinen kuluttaja. Etsii revontulia, riippumattoja ja juuri oikeita sanoja.

Lue lisää:

The future of international students’ study grants are being decided on Thursday – OYY hopes the issue would be returned to preparation

The Board of the University of Oulu will discuss a reform of the scholarship model for international students at its meeting on Thursday, February 25th. According to the Student Union of the University of Oulu, the new model weakens the position of international students and the preparation of the reform has been undemocratic.

Read this story in Finnish.

“The scholarship model is to be weakened for students from outside the EU and EEA area”, says Olli Joki, Chairman of the Student Union of the University of Oulu Board (OYY).

OYY issued a statement regarding the Oulu University international students’ study grant reform today. The reform is to be decided on at the University Board’s meeting tomorrow, Thursday the 25th.

“The current suggestion weakens international students’ grants significantly and continues to weaken them throughout the strategy term”, the statement says.

The statement doesn’t only concern the weaker funding, it also concerns the decision-making process. OYY’s Board says that the Education Management Group discussed the changes at length but the proposal made to the University Board differs from the discussions.

The Education Management Group is the part of the university administration that decides on the management and development of education. Its task has been to plan the reform of the scholarship model. According to Joki, however, the discussions in the Education Management Group have not been taken into account.

“The University Board is now being presented with a completely different model than what was to be presented on the basis of the discussions. This model is much weaker from a student’s perspective.”

In its statement, OYY demands that the decision-making process be suspended and that the reform of the grant model be prepared more thoroughly. The goal of the statement is that the University Board meeting on Thursday would not approve the models presented to it. OYY also says they are worried because the consequences of the new models have not been estimated. 

“In our opinion, such urgent and careless preparation is not good administrative practice or in line with the values ​​of the University”, Joki says.

Less funding for a student?

Presented to the Board on Thursday are four different options for scholarships.

In the first option, no scholarship is awarded to the student at all.

In the second option, each student pays the fee for their first academic year in full. From the second year onwards, the student has the opportunity to be reimbursed 70 percent of the tuition fee, as long as they have completed the required number of studies and have fared well in their studies. In bachelor’s programs for the third year and for master’s studies, the scholarship is 70 percent per year if the same conditions are met.

In the third option, the student also pays the full tuition fee in the first year. For the second year of study, the grant is 50 percent if the conditions are met. In bachelor’s programs, the scholarship for the third year and master’s years is 50 percent.

The fourth option is for exceptional cases. It grants scholarships every year and the percentage stays the same throughout your studies.

Compared to the current models the proposed change affects the amount of funding and also when a student is eligible for funding. The current models allow grants from the first study year unlike the new models being proposed.

With current scholarship models, a student can receive either a 50 percent scholarship, a 75 percent scholarship, or a full scholarship. In each current model, the scholarship continues through the studies if the student completes 60 credits during the year. The change proposed in the reform would therefore be big, especially for the first year students.

“An individual student in particular cannot be sure if they will receive a scholarship for their entire study period. The new grant system also limits applicants to those from only a good socio-economic background, which may limit the number of good applicants”, Joki says.

The current tuition fees are around 10,000 euros depending on the subject. With the current scholarship model, at best a student pays nothing for their tuition and at maximum they pay 5,000 euros per academic year.

In the models proposed to the University Board, the student will have to pay the entire 10,000 euros for their first year. After this, depending on the model, they pay either 5,000 euros or 3,000 euros per academic year. For example, a three-year bachelor’s degree currently costs from zero to 15,000 euros and. Based on the proposed model it would cost at least 16,000 euros.

Of the proposed models, the most advantageous for the student corresponds to the most expensive option of the current model. On top of that the student will in any case have to pay the full amount of 10,000 euros for their first year. Taken as a whole, the new proposals increase the tuition fees for individual students.

The goal is to delay the decision

“I don’t understand what motivates this change. It is going well now, so why change this system? One of the pillars of Finland’s education system is free and quality education for all, this step by the university weakens it”, Vivek Manjunatha Swamy of the OYY Board says. 

“Changing the scholarship system limits the opportunities for international students. It is no longer a single question of whether they are academically qualified, but of their financial situation too.”

The number of scholarships has decreased since 2018. The model now being prepared would further reduce the scholarship received by the student. The University justifies reforming the model by cutting red tape and developing education.

“One significant thing that will change is that the number of grant recipients will be reduced. This was not discussed at all in the Education Management Group”, Eetu Leinonen, OYY’s Specialist of Academic Affairs says. “Our intention is that no decision be made.”

OYY would also like to see broader perspectives and the consideration of the students themselves in making the decision. Manjunatha Swamy hopes that international students will be asked for feedback on this matter before making this huge decision. Joki also emphasizes that international students have other options than Oulu.

“Although this does not affect the lives of current international students, one should ask why international students chose Oulu. Did the available grant affect their decision?” Joki ponders.

The decision on the new scholarship model will be made at the university board meeting on Thursday, February 25th. It remains to be seen whether OYY will be able to delay the decision-making or return the matter to preparation, as hoped in their statement.

Iida Putkonen

Oulun ylioppilaslehden entinen päätoimittaja. Tiedeviestinnän maisteri ja glögin ympärivuotinen kuluttaja. Etsii revontulia, riippumattoja ja juuri oikeita sanoja.

Lue lisää:

The University of Oulu is investing in international students – new career guidance service and events this year

The University of Oulu has decided to improve its Career Counseling and Employability Services by creating a new position specializing in foreign talent. Two of the reasons for this new service are an increasing number of overseas students enrolled in the degree programs and the new public trend Finland of tapping into international talent already located in the country.

At the beginning of the academic year 2020–2021, the University of Oulu extended its Career Counseling and Employability Services. More specialized support for international students will be provided by Angela Suorsa. She is  the new International Student Career Guidance & Employability Designer at the University of Oulu. 

As a result, there are now two Career Services Specialists at our University. The first is Outi Tolonen, who will focus on local students. The second is Angela Suorsa, who will be offering career guidance for international students and researchers and support in their post-graduation job hunt. 

In practice, the new service aims to offer students with international background guidance tailored to their specific needs. The service helps with job seeking, job marketing, integrating into working life, supporting thesis and traineeship placement opportunities finding. 

This year’s timetable is already booked with some exciting events, like the new Oulu at your service event this week.

What are the particular attributes of international talents, and what are some of the challenges they face?

According to Angela, job hunting is different for international students compared to local students.

“Although their international background could be used as a strength in their application, many fail to present their competencies in the application documents properly.” 

For example, a common mistake made by international talent is that when mentioning their work experience from abroad, they fail to offer a clear picture of the company and the work tasks. 

Finnish employers can evaluate the job seeker’s experience from the same country because they are familiar with the education, the expected skills, the working conditions, the legislation, and the requirements. However, it is challenging for local employers to know everything about education systems around the world. They might also not be familiar with the companies in the international arena where students have gained their working experience. As a result, it is more challenging to relate to them and their background. 

“Therefore, the employers do not find an answer to the question: What can he do for my company and me? Nor can they answer the question: Do I need him?”

Nevertheless, cultural differences in job hunting and work mentality play a role as well. While a lengthy CV is considered an advantage in some countries, the Finnish employer won’t read one longer than 1–2 pages. The Finnish custom of addressing superiors by their first name might feel extremely impolite for people who worked in companies with a strict addressing etiquette. 

“Two years are not enough”

Since the international Master’s level programs last two years, a significant challenge identified by Angela is that students usually do not have enough time to properly educate themselves about the local job market and create a strong professional and personal network.

“When applying for a Master’s Degree, international students already have a more precise idea of what career path they would like to follow. They might also have some work experience. Still, they might have different values and weaker networks, which means they need additional support upon graduation, compared to the local students.”

For the future, Angela would like to see supportive programs developed in close collaboration with the city of Oulu and the regional employment office (Te-toimisto). Such programs could connect the international students directly to the local working market and even help establish contact with the employers on behalf of the students during and after graduation. 

Also, more emphasis on the sense of belonging of the international student is needed in the future. The feeling of being valued and worthy will encourage them to be more active in creating their career path and taking part in events designed to help them.

What opportunities does Oulu have to offer to its international talent? 

According to Finnish law, the municipalities, like the City of Oulu, are responsible for developing an integration plan for refugees and immigrants. This usually means offering language courses and basic education. 

However, as Angela points out, there is a risk that the highly skilled immigrants and university graduates fall outside of the municipality’s integration programs and the free support services that come with them.

As a result, they are not eligible to receive services such as one-year-long intensive Finnish language courses, employability guidance, familiarization with the health care system, or assistance with the paperwork related to other practical dimensions of day to day life in the community.

This can be perceived as a discouraging factor by international talent because they lack the Finnish language skills that would allow them to access more services, as well as an overall understanding of the Finnish systems and society upon graduation. 

Oulu at your service (20.01.2021)

The University of Oulu’s Academic Affairs and Counselling Services are organizing an event. The event is being held together with the municipality on the 20th of January at 14.00. Oulu at your service aims to improve the visibility of the services that the City of Oulu has to offer to international talent.

Oulu at your service is an online event for all international students, researchers, alumni, employees, and their families. 

During the event, you will have the opportunity to find out more about the municipality’s public transport and library services, daycares and schools, Finnish language courses, well-being, health, leisure, and entrepreneurship name a few – basically, all the essential information for a newcomer to Oulu. 

You can ask specific questions in the chat and get answers from experts in different fields during the webinar. You can also send your questions in advance to and get your questions answered during the event. You can find the detailed program here and the registration form here.

Anca M. Catana

Education student, theater enthusiast, nature lover. Curious, spontaneous and ambitious, open for new challenges.

Lue lisää:

From hybrid to fully online, Löyly hopes to inspire students in job hunting

Employment event Löyly will be held fully online this year. In its fourth year the event includes familiar keynotes and workshops focusing on how to find a job in Oulu even in a pandemic.

January has rolled around again. At the University of Oulu, that means it’s almost time for Löyly. Many people have yet to return from their holiday break, but the organizers of the event are already busy preparing. One of them is Katariina Sarja

“I don’t think we ever considered cancelling the event. Instead we decided to move to an online environment pretty early on”, she says. 

Löyly is an employment event aimed especially at international degree students. In short: its aim is to help students find a job in Oulu. This year the corona pandemic has changed plans, but the event is going to be held again, for the fourth time this year.

“Löyly has been a hybrid event even in previous years. That is, we’ve streamed some of the program to Youtube and Facebook. As the corona pandemic hasn’t let up, we’ve moved completely online for this year”, Sarja explains. 

Katariina Sarja works as OYY’s Specialist of Events and Associations. Alongside OYY, Student Union of the University of Oulu, are OSAKO (Student Union of Oulu University of Applied Sciences), Talent Hub Oulu and BusinessOulu. 

Sarja is organizing Löyly for the third year in a row on the 14th of January. She hopes that despite the pandemic students will find their way to the event once again.

“The event is aimed at international students but I sincerely hope everyone who is interested will participate, it doesn’t matter if you’re not an international student.” 

The same event, just online

Apart from helping students find jobs, the aim of the event is also to let businesses in Oulu know about the potential that international students hold. In previous years this was done by holding a job fair with local businesses. This year that’s not possible, but the key parts that make Löyly what it is remain unchanged.

“The constant in Löyly is the core of the program: keynotes and workshops. These weren’t all too hard to move to an online platform”, Sarja says.

This year the event focuses on different aspects of employment, especially during the pandemic. How to make connections and network amidst a pandemic and how to make an impressive video CV are some of the questions the event will answer. In total the one-day-event includes 3 keynotes from different speakers and 2 workshops.

Despite months of preparation, there are still unanswered questions in holding an event online. One of them is the amount of participants compared to previous years.

“I have no idea how many people we can expect this year. There’s a chance that people from outside of Oulu will also participate online, but at the same time this academic year we have fewer international students than usual, so less participants from Oulu”, Sarja ponders.

Instead of fancy stages and lights, the keynotes will be held from the speakers’ own computer screens. Still, there are also upsides to organizing an event virtually.

“We are free of the shackles of physical events, for example having to be in a certain place at the right time, having to come to the campus physically. It will be interesting to see how it goes on the day”, Sarja says.

Inspiring every student

Sarja hopes that the event will go smoothly, but also that the atmosphere will be equally inspiring online. 

“I hope that people will have room to compare their own employment stories to Löyly’s program somehow.”

The event will be held next week, on the 14th of January. Sign-up is still open and the organizers hope to reach as many people as possible. 

“The start of the year is a good time for anyone to broaden their skills and think about their future work. There is no need to know anything beforehand, you can just show up”, Sarja says.

An online-only event is a first for Löyly, but the organizers think that the future will hold even more online features. Their vision is to continue with a hybrid of online and offline parts but to also strengthen their online presence. The future is largely unknown, but hopes are high.

“I hope that every single international degree student will know about Löyly in the future, that they will know where to go and possess all the skills taught at the event”, Sarja concludes. 

Löyly 2021 employment event is organized by the Student Union of the University of Oulu (OYY) and Student Union of Oulu University of Applied Sciences (OSAKO) together with Business Oulu. The event takes place online and consists of workshops and keynote speeches. You can find the sign-up form and the program on the Löyly website.

Iida Putkonen

Oulun ylioppilaslehden entinen päätoimittaja. Tiedeviestinnän maisteri ja glögin ympärivuotinen kuluttaja. Etsii revontulia, riippumattoja ja juuri oikeita sanoja.

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