The student representatives in the administration are an important part of both the present and the future of the university. There are three active groups in the university’s administration are the professors, the personnel of the university, and the students. The point of this grouping is to ensure a positive and well-functioning university community.
The Student Council consists of 37 members who make decisions about matters concerning the Student Union (OYY). The Student Council elections are held every two years, and the elected members exercise the highest authority in the Student Union.
The purpose of this guide is to aid the student representatives and members of the Student Council throughout their two-year term of office.
Student representatives in the administration and the members of the Student Council act to ensure a good life for students. The work you are doing is interesting while also being challenging. You will learn new things about the university’s administrative organs, courses of action, meeting practices, and student life.
As a member of the Student Council you will advocate for the interest of all students in the university sphere. You will have a lot to do, but do not worry, you can manage it and there is always help available.
The Student Union is always there to help and support you no matter what your concerns are. You can also ask other student representatives or members of the Student Council for help, if you wish to do so.
As a student representative you will speak with the voice of thousands of students since you represent every student. It is good to improve and expand your know-how, since you will need to know what kind of challenges, for example, international students, students with families, post-graduate students and students in general face.
Every student is unique, but by actively engaging different students and societies in conversation, you will quickly learn new things. This will make your work as an advocate in the administration and student council easier.
Sometimes the university works like a slow ship
Changes at the university (and sometimes even in the Student Union) take time. You should not feel discouraged by this, since purposeful and well-grounded work never goes to waste. Your work will in any case contribute to the every-day life of university students, even if someone else finishes the work you started.
It is important to view the work of influencing as something that will produce results in the long run, as a marathon rather than a sprint, and to persevere and stay positive. You need to be determined and driven in your advocacy for students’ interests.
The status, responsibilities, and duties of a student representative
The student representatives of the administrative organs have the same status as the other members of the administrative organs. The representative has the same rights, duties, and responsibilities regarding the decisions made as do the representatives of the personnel groups. This standing is granted by the Act on Universities. For example, you could say one right is that the student representatives, like any other member of the organ, can take the floor and present motions which will then be discussed accordingly.
You must be vigilant that the real decision-making power does not slip into the hands of executive groups manned only by professors or other such cliques – you have the right to be truly included in the decision-making process. It takes courage and familiarity with the subject to be able to argue with the “This is the way we have always done this” -argument made by a professor who has maybe decades worth of experience in the administration, but exactly this ability to question is one of the qualities that make a good decision-maker great.
Opinions about student representatives vary, but for the most part the other members of the administration want to hear the students’ opinions in the hopes of getting fresh motions to debate. The frequency of attendance of the previous student representatives affects how the department heads and other personnel representatives perceive student reps. Aim to leave an impression of active and constructive student representatives – this way you can make your work, and indeed the work of your successors, easier.
Decision-making is a task filled with responsibilities for a student. All the members of administrative organs are responsible for making decisions. If you disagree with the resolution, you can be released from responsibility by stating a dissenting opinion and entering it in the minutes. In such a case you need to state the contents and basis of your dissenting opinion. Often the chairperson may want the dissenting opinion as a written statement in the appendix of the minutes. Make sure that the minutes include a record of your differing opinion.
The publicity of documents is defined in the Act on the Openness of Government Activities. The administrative organs of the university act within the limits of this law and as such follow the principles of free public access. According to these principles, anyone has the right to obtain information concerning the actions and decisions of authority figures if they so wish. The principles of free access assume openness of operation.
A proposed detailed agenda (“esityslista” in Finnish, includes draft resolutions) with its appendices is not public, whereas a draft agenda (that does not include the draft resolutions, “asialista” in Finnish) is. If you wish to make the process of decision-making more open, you can for example propose that all notices of meetings be made available online before every meeting. Agenda items that are being drafted can be discussed, but only on a general level.
You can discuss the contents of a notice of meeting without getting into specifics about the agenda if you want to gather information about the students’ opinions to help you form an opinion about a matter that is going to be discussed in a meeting. Often, this is the sensible thing to do, since you do not only represent yourself and the students in your own degree programme, but also all the other students in the faculty or the university.
All decisions and minutes are public, but some of the appendices can be deemed confidential, for example applications where they include confidential data such as personal information. Discussions had during meetings are not public and the opinions expressed in them should not be attached to any individual.
Student representative’s checklist
- Cooperate with students and personnel
- The goal is to stir-up students’ interest in common matters
- Do not make promises you cannot keep
- Do not stir up panic
- Inform others about activities and decisions
- other students
- subject societies
- the Student Union
- Make good use of group meetings and networks
- Remember to go to faculty meetings
- Listen to the student guilds and societies
- Take part in OYY’s Advocacy Section and current issues
- Utilize social media
- OYY groups (advocacy of students’ interests)
- people responsible for academic and education affairs/student representative groups within faculties
- discuss, ask, challenge, propose motions
- Ask for help and consultation whenever you feel that you need it
- The specialists at OYY are here to help you! If you are confused about something or need additional info about a subject, turn to the experts.
Cooperation between student representatives is encouraged, as when you think about things together as a group, you sometimes realize things that you would not have if you were just on your own. One good way of cooperating is to meet up with just the student reps (both actual and deputy members) before board meetings to discuss the items on the agenda. It is a good idea to meet up well in advance of the actual meeting, so that you will have enough time to answer questions that arise from your discussion and to come up with supporting arguments for your own opinions.
However, it is not enough to just cooperate with the other student representatives, since you will be in the minority during decision-making situations. Thus, it is beneficial for the student representatives to get to know the professor and middle group representatives. The smart thing to do is to find out where the representatives of other administrative organs stand on the issues, so that you can predict what the tone of the discussion in the meeting is going to be like. You should promote your views actively even in casual get-togethers between meetings.
What’s more, communication between student representatives from different administrative organs will prove beneficial. The higher levels of administration receive valuable information to support their decision-making from prior preparation processes that are not necessarily wholly expressed in the meeting minutes, while those who represent at lower levels can proceed in their advocating work by lobbying among the student representatives on the next decision-making level.
Cooperation also comes in handy in the sense that often representatives get the agendas at the last minute – communication between different administrative organs increases the student representatives’ common knowledge of the big picture: what is happening at the university and what kind of matters are probably going to be on the agenda in the near future.
Collaboration amongst the students within your own administrative sector is especially important. You should collect their opinions on subjects that are on the agenda through, for example, your subject organisation. These kinds of conversations can often be highly emotional, but your job is to remain objective. Do not make promises you cannot keep, but do not stir-up panic by making thing seem worse than they are either.
After decisions have been made, it is important to inform the students. You might want to consider writing a blog or sending the students an info letter, where you briefly summarize the effects the decisions will have on the students’ lives. Make stirring up interest in common causes amongst students one of your central goals for your term of office. Keeping the next election in mind, this will make your work of scoping out what students think about matters easier, while simultaneously making the foundations of student advocacy sturdier.
It is also a good idea to inform the Student Union about decisions through the Academic Affairs Specialist. The Student Union has plenty of opportunities to take the student representatives’ message forward through multiple working groups and informal get-togethers. The Student Union aims to inform the student representatives regularly about the discussions they are having, especially after meetings with the Education Council and the Executive Management Group of Academic Affairs. One extremely efficient way of keeping up with things, networking with all the other excellent student representatives, and informing others about current affairs in your own faculty is to take part in the Student Union’s advocacy section and current issues.
The Academic Affairs Specialist tours all the faculties at least once a year and meets with all the student representative groups. Additionally, you can always contact them and ask for consultation. The OYY also arranges training for the student representatives – if you have a specific subject in mind on which you wish to receive training, contact the Academic Affairs Specialist.
You can reach all student representatives via the mailing list email@example.com
Here are the mailing lists for students sorted by faculty:
Faculty of Biochemistry and Molecular Medicine: firstname.lastname@example.org
Faculty of Humanities: email@example.com
Faculty of Education: firstname.lastname@example.org
Faculty of Science: email@example.com
Faculty of Medicine: firstname.lastname@example.org
Oulu Business School: email@example.com
Faculty of Technology: firstname.lastname@example.org
Faculty of Information Technology and Electrical Engineering: email@example.com
The mailing list for all Members of the Student Council: firstname.lastname@example.org
NB! Remember to notify OYY’s Communication Specialist (email@example.com) if you change your email or no longer act as a student representative or a member of the Student Council!
Most of the university’s funding is determined by the financing model formulated by the Ministry of Education and Culture. The university’s internal financing model follows the same principles, so actions that make the university and faculty do well in the criteria of the model will most likely be taken into serious consideration. This means that it is worthwhile to learn how to argue your objectives based on the financing model of universities and the university’s strategy.
Documents that guide the operation of the university of Oulu
The most important guiding document for the university is the Universities Act. The university must also follow the Administrative Procedure Act when implementing public administration duties, as well as the Act on the Openness of Government Activities when applicable. Of the university’s own documents, the most important ones are the University Regulations and the Education Regulations. You might want to look into the university’s Recruitment Guidelines, although the role students play in recruitments has become regrettably small. Student representatives should pay special attention to the Education Regulations, since they define students’ responsibilities and duties. Additionally, the University of Oulu Strategy was renewed and implemented in the beginning of 2016. In the Strategy, the university defines the focus points of its main effort and areas of improvement. The Strategy plays a key role in how the university is profiled.
The tasks and operation of the administrative organs
The University Collegium
- Defines the number of the University Board of Directors and elects external members
- Supervises the decision-making process in the whole university
- Represents the voice of the university community
- Approves the financial report and the annual report
The University Collegium assemble relatively rarely, but they decide on very important matters. The role of the University Collegium and the relationship it has with the University Board of Directors is still somewhat vague. Students have traditionally cooperated especially with the so-called middle group (university staff).
The University Board of Directors
- Responds to the future challenges facing the University of Oulu
- Defines the university’s strategic policies
- Decides about the university’s finances
- Has influence over the university regulations
- Elects the university’s rector
- Works to develop an international science university
- Aims to make history in Finnish higher education
It is the responsibility of the Board of Directors to act for the benefit of the whole university, not for any single faculty or degree programme. Some decisions may seem disagreeable from the point-of-view of one degree programme or even one a whole faculty, however, sometimes the greater good demands painful decisions. Student representatives must regard the university as a sum of its parts.
It would be great if the student representatives on the other levels of administration contacted the student representatives in the board to inform and discuss the issues that might end up on the agenda. Many of the issues that end up being decided upon by the Board of Directors are first drafted in faculties, the education management group or in the Education Council.
Research, Education and Cooperative Relationship Councils
The university has Research, Education and Cooperative Relationship Councils that function at the university level. The councils are chaired by the university’s vice rectors.
- Supports the rectorate in the advancement of research and in maintaining ongoing discussion about science policy
- makes proposals related to the research policy
- assesses the quality of research activities
- Supports the rectorate in the promotion of education
- Makes proposals related to education policy and the development of education
- Assesses the quality of education
Cooperative Relationship Council
- supports the rectorate in improving the university’s impact on society
- Aims to promote the university’s innovation operations, entrepreneurship, research and project cooperation, the correspondence between education and working life as well as communications, alumni relations, and fundraising
- represents the university’s various stakeholders and fields of activities
The Education Management Group
- supports the Vice Rector for Education and the Education Deans in the management and development of education and the implementation of the education strategy
- acts as a direct link to the Education Committees of different faculties, the Graduate School and the University of Oulu Extension School
Board of Examiners
- handles student admission, study credits, and the accreditation of studies taken elsewhere
Faculty Management Group
- supports the dean in developing operation (the profitability and efficiency of operation)
- supports the dean in implementing strategy
- acts as a link to the faculty’s research units
It is the Faculty Board’s job to support the faculty’s management in
- the drafting and implementation of the faculty’s programme of measures,
- the drafting of the faculty’s action, financial and personnel plans,
- keeping an eye on the actions and finances, and
- informing the personnel and students about faculty matters.
- guide and evaluate the operation of and cooperation between degree programmes
- are responsible for collecting and analysing student feedback
- act as important connections to the degree programmes of faculties and the improvement effort of education in the whole faculty
Other noteworthy positions of influence include:
Teacher Education Management Group
- Coordinates the implementation and improvement of teacher education in different units
- Decisions regarding multidisciplinary teacher education must consult the Teacher Education Management Group.
Education Committee of the University of Oulu Extension School (TOPIK)
- supports TOPIKs management in improving the quality of the education it provides
- TOPIK organizes language and communication studies for degree students and students of continuing adult education
Wellbeing Working Group of Students
- aims to improve the wellbeing and studying ability of students
- aims to take students into account as members of the university community
- handles a wide range of matters regarding the students’ wellbeing and studying ability; their livelihood, housing, and communality; as well as study guidance and the progression of studies
- acts as a connection and coordinator for all the work that is done to support the wellbeing of students
- Different operative organs at the university, such as the FSHS and the Oulu Parish Union, are represented in the multiprofessional working group
Equality and Diversity Committee and Working Groups
- are responsible for the work aimed at improving diversity and equality in the University of Oulu
- forums of cooperation that collect and distribute information and expertise about equality and diversity issues
- organize training, avenues of communication, and events for the university community to improve diversity and equality
- makes sure that the equality and diversity action plan and its procedures are kept up to date
- amongst other things they go through the customer feedback and work together to improve their operation based on it
- has student, personnel, and FSHS representatives in addition to the restaurateurs
FSHS Management Group
- keeps an eye on the operation of the health service unit, changes in the operational environment, health improvement, and community health promotion
- works in close cooperation with its interest groups
- has representatives from student unions, the personnel of the foundation, the universities, and the public health care sphere
FSHS Health Working Group
- working group with representatives from the health centre, the student union, the university, and other interest groups, that plans and implements promoting action for health issues
- brainstorms, plans, and implements health promotion action, promotes active communication between the operators, educates people on health issues on local level, and provides training in health promotion action for the FSHS staff
- does work that guides and outlines the foundation’s operation on national level based on the Foundations Act
- its most important tasks are: electing the board of directors of the foundation, the approval of the action plan and the budget, as well as approving the annual accounts
- can bring forward important issues regarding student health care on a national level
Additionally, doctorate students have their own seats in the University of Oulu Graduate School, UniOGS.
The Student Union is an advocacy organisation for all degree students. The Universities Act defines and gives guidelines for student unions in Section 46.
A student union consists of the students of a university and is self-governing. The student
union liaises with and on behalf of its members and promotes their societal, social and
intellectual aspirations and those relating to studies and the status of students in society.
The student union also participates in the implementation of the educational mission of the
university, referred to in section 2, by preparing students for an active, informed and
The duties of the student union are in particular to
1) nominate student representatives to the administrative bodies of the university
2) contribute, where needed, to the performance of the tasks relating to students’ primary
It is the Student Union’s job to occasionally act as a watchdog of the university and to advocate for the students. At the same time, the Student Union is a great place to learn about advocacy and to promote a good life for students, come rain or shine.
Our members are a diverse bunch of students, who all have their own interests and are in different life situations. However, we are working hard to achieve some common goals that serve all students, such as improving the student employment rate, ensuring that life is affordable for them and that they get high quality education, and making sure they feel included in the community.
Members of the Student Union make the operation of the Student Union possible. After you have paid the membership fee you are entitled to enjoy all the perks of the membership, such as discounts for the services at Matkahuolto (bus and coach services) and VR (the Finnish National Railway Services), as well as the discount price student meals. Your student card will grant you discounts both locally and nationally.
Doctoral students can also join the Student Union, if they so wish. The membership will grant the doctorate student all the same membership benefits and student discounts as the degree students get, with the exception of some national benefits that are only for the lower and higher university degree students. The Doctoral Students’ Section of the Student Union advocates for doctoral students, and they meet approximately once a month.
The organisation model of the Student Union of Oulu University (OYY) is based on the model of traditional representative democracy, where the members of the organisation elect representatives through elections to advocate for them in the highest decision-making body. The Student Council then elects the executive branch, the Executive Board of the Student Union, to represent themselves and to execute decisions.
The Executive Board and the Student Council get support from the Committee for Economic Affairs and other committees and sections which have been granted preparatory power in the Student Union. The committees are open opportunities for all members to make the Student Union’s decision-making bodies aware of their points-of-view.
The Student Council elects both the Secretary General of the Student Union and the Editor-in-Chief of the Oulu Student Magazine.
The Secretary General of the Student Union is the head of staff in the Student Union and, as such, is responsible for the personnel management, financing, and budgeting of the organisation, as well as for some of the public relations business and collaboration with other operatives. The Secretary General works in close collaboration with the Student Council and the Executive Board of OYY and is responsible for preparing meetings and implementing decisions.
The Editor-in-Chief of Oulu Student Magazine is responsible for the policy and contents of the publication, as well as for coordinating the group of contributors. The practical tasks of the Editor-in-Chief include writing articles and columns, editing, taking photographs, determining the style of the magazine, marketing, and collaborating with the interest groups.
The Academic Affairs Specialist is an expert in promoting the quality of teaching and learning, students’ legal protection, and opportunities of advocacy for students. High quality education, vibrant student culture, taking the points-of view of different students into account in the decision-making, training the student representatives and supporting their work, student admission, funding for universities, development of the higher education sphere, free education, internships and the relevancy of education in the labour market, updating the curricula, and the feedback processes are all issues in the heart of the Academic Affairs Specialist’s work.
The Social Affairs Specialist is an expert in social policy who promotes the improvement of the students’ study environment, studying ability and well-being, in order to give the students the best possible opportunity to study. Meals, health, accommodation, issues of equality and diversity, financial aid for students and livelihood, as well as different support structures, wellbeing and work-life issues are all included in the Social Affairs Specialist’s field of expertise.
Events and Societies Specialist’s work includes cooperation with the subject and interest societies under the Student Union, organising events like anniversary celebrations and the celebration of the beginning of the academic year, and developing the Student Union’s event activities, as well as coordinating the grants given out by the Student Union, the Universitas projects, and organizing training for students actively involved in student organisations.
The Communication Specialist’s work consists of improving the organisation’s internal communication and handling the everyday external communication from media monitoring to moderating the mailing lists. The ambitious goal of OYY is to make the operation of the Student Union transparent, open, and interactive, and to make clear to every student why the Student Union’s work is important for everybody.
Secretary of Member Services and Administrative Affairs is the first person our members meet when they come into the Student Union’s office. They are the heart of the office, making sure that the system is operating as it should. The office secretary is your contact person in all questions regarding your membership. They are the one who collects membership fees and processes student card applications. You can also purchase a sports pass from them and borrow items that the OYY has provided for you. They also control the quick loan scheme. Additionally, our office secretary runs the routine, day-to-day finance operations of the Student Union and acts as the secretary general’s right hand.
The Business Cooperation Coordinator negotiates OYY’s agreements of economic cooperation, develops public relations, and arranges financial and material support for the events and activities of the Student Union.
Whenever necessary, the Student Union hires temporary workers, for example, people to help with giving out the academic year stickers, interns, or project workers.
There are many ways that the Student Union promotes “a good life for students” by working every day to make the life of students easier. The job descriptions of the Student Union personnel are really expansive, and the work can get pretty hectic and taxing from time to time. Nevertheless, the staff puts their hearts into their work and they always keep the students’ best interests in mind.
On top of general advocacy, the advocacy experts give private counselling to students. You can reach them all by simply sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
The most important documents that guide the operation of the Student Union are Section 46 of the Universities Act along with the OYY’s rules.
The Student Council decided on the strategy for the Student Union (2011-2015) and the mission statement calls for “a good life for students”. During 2015, the strategy was updated and the new version including the strategic goals was approved in autumn 2015. The new strategy includes the core values of the Student Union: openness, courage, effectiveness, and communality. According to the Student Union’s vision for 2020, the students find OYY’s work meaningful and want to be part of the Student Union.
- Stable financial standing
- Even better and more accessible services for members
- The Impactful Student Union
- Well-being and capable operatives
- Shared Campus 2020
Documents that guide the operation:
OYY’s Strategy 2016–2020
OYY’s Policy Paper
OYY’s Action Plan and Budget
OYY’s Communication Strategy 2017–2020
OYY’s Municipal Policy Programme 2017
Guiding Regulations for Selection of Student Representatives in University Administration
Rules for Honorary Decorations
Standing Rule for Sections
Interest groups – where we influence
The Student Union collaborates closely with all kinds of different operatives. Our goal is to promote the issues that are important to students on the university, city, and national levels.
The National Union of University Students in Finland SYL – SYL is the umbrella organisation of all Student Unions, under which OYY also operates. SYL advocates for university students on the national and European level. OYY can influence SYL’s policies and operation by taking part in the annual General Assembly and by consulting agents from other student unions between the General Assemblies. SYL arranges training and networking events for student union agents so that good policies and practices can spread and gain more ground.
PSOAS – PSOAS, the local student housing foundation, was founded by the Student Union of the University of Oulu, Domus Botnica foundation, and Pohjois-Suomen Oppilasasuntolat oy in 1971 to manage student housing in Oulu. Currently, PSOAS owns over 5,500 student apartments that students can rent for affordable prices.
Uniresta – Oulun Ylioppilasapu ry was founded in 1962 to manage canteens and cafés. Uniresta Ltd is co-owned by Oulun Ylioppilasapu ry and OYY. Currently Uniresta Ltd runs student canteens in Linnanmaa (Kastari), Kontinkangas (Medisiina), the Oulu Music Centre (Preludi) and in Oulu city centre (Vanilla). Additionally, the company has a couple of Health to Organic -restaurants in the Oulu area and runs the Juhula Catering -catering service.
The Student Council re-elects the executive board for Oulun Ylioppilasapu once a year. Ylioppilasapu elects a chair from among its members every year. The company is responsible for ownership steering of Uniresta Ltd. The goal of the association is to support and further the studies, research, cultural hobbies, social and health services as well as the intercultural connections of the students of the University of Oulu.
The Finnish Student Health Service FSHS – FSHS offers general health, oral health, and mental health services for degree students in the university. The foundation promotes the well-being and health of students actively. The students are well represented in the different sections of the FSHS – from the local Health Working Group to the national FSHS Council and Board of Trustees.
Other central interest groups for the Student Union are the City of Oulu, the Council of Oulu Region, the University Properties of Finland Ltd (SYK), and the student restaurant company, Juvenes Ltd.
Why you should apply to be a student representative
What kind of university do you want to study in?
Student representatives have the opportunity to directly influence the day-to-day life at the university. At the same time, you will gain a new perspective on how things should be done on the administrative level of your faculty and the whole university.
Through participation you get to influence your fellow students’ university experience and everyday life. The professors and university staff do not necessarily know what student life is really like without your input.
Choosing student representatives has been determined in the Finnish legislation, which should be seen as a privilege. You will be one of the specialists in the administration of the university and the Student Council. You will be an important part of the organisation and we hope that you regard your job with adequate seriousness when need be.
You can apply at halloped.fi. You can also check who your representatives currently are at the same address.
Resigning from duty
If a student representative resigns or the position becomes vacant for some other reason during the two-year term of office, either the Student Union or the Student Council has to appoint the former representative’s deputy member or another deputy member who would act as a substitute in meetings.
A student representative can resign before the end of their term by giving a written notice to the Student Union. The resigning person will be dismissed in the same meeting they get a successor in. However, only the University can dismiss members of the University Board, Education Council, Education Management Group, Faculty Education Committee, Research Council, and Graduate School, when the Student Union proposes it.
Why you should apply
Why is there a membership fee? Which issues does the Student Union promote in the university administration, city council, the province and in the National Union of University Students in Finland? What is OYY’s strategy? As a member of the Student Council you get to influence all of these as well as many other matters!
As one of the 36 members of the Student Council you get to influence what kind of a student union you are a part of. You can think of the Student Council as the parliament of the Student Union, which gets to decide on the finances and policies and to elect the Secretary General and the Editor-in-Chief of the Oulu Student Magazine.
Previous Student Councils have decided on e.g. the move of the Student Union’s office, the strategy of the Student Union, and the policy paper that guides all of the Student Union’s operations.
The Student Council has a lot of power that needs to be used wisely and with careful deliberation.
Applying and election
The application process for the Student Council is organised according to the election notice given by the Central Electoral Committee.
All members of the Student Union who are at least 18 years old on the election day, have registered to attend the university, are present in person, and have the right to vote are eligible to be members of the Student Council.
The candidates are allowed to form electoral alliances and election circles together.
The Student Union chooses the Student Council through the elections. Only members of the Student Union who have registered to attend the university and are present in person have the right to vote.
The way in which the elections are conducted is comparable to the national elections in Finland, so you should regard the process with equal seriousness and respect.
The elected 37 people will be members of the Student Council for the following two years. On top of the amount of votes the candidates personally get, the amount of votes the electoral alliances and election circles get also impacts the order in which the representatives are elected, so the candidate who gets the most votes might not necessarily be the first one to get elected. You can find out more about the election conduct from the Student Union’s election regulations.
Resigning from duty
A member of the Student Council can give their letter of resignation to the Student Council, which then accepts the resignation. A member of the Student Council must be a member of OYY to be able to act as a member of the Student Council. After the resignation has been granted, the resigning member’s deputy member will become an actual member of the Student Council.
The most important meeting practice is preparation in good time: read through the agenda and its appendices carefully and ponder the things on the agenda, preferably with other student representatives.
A part of effective advocacy work is so called lobbying, which stands for the act of attempting to influence the actions, policies, or decisions of others by collaboration while skilfully arguing and “marketing” of your own ideas. You would be wise to discuss issues with the other members of your administrative organ and to try to make them see matters from your point-of-view.
Presenters are here for you. If the contents of the agenda are unclear, or you have other questions or remarks, contact the person who is going to present the items before the meeting. Often the person is either the head of administration or the Chief Academic Officer. In the Student Union, the person or persons you should contact are usually the secretary general, a specialist, or the board of executives. You should have a chat with the presenter from time to time in any case, since they can offer crumbs of important information about the issues they are planning to present.
In this guide we introduce you to a very formal meeting procedure. However, often the university’s different sections do not follow this formula exactly. The most important things for you to make sure of in a meeting are that you get to speak your mind on issues you have planned to speak on, that your motions are included in the minutes, and that you can follow the conversation enough so that you at least know on which issue you are deciding.
There are a couple of things that always happen in a meeting in the following order: opening the meeting, stating the legality of the meeting and that the members present constitute a quorum (there are enough members present so that decisions are binding), approving the agenda (not done in the university’s administrative organs), announcements, closing remarks, and closing the meeting. The meeting is divided into smaller sections in the agenda.
The agenda includes a numbered list of everything that will be discussed in the meeting and will usually determine the order in which matters are discussed.
Action items are handled according to the following formula:
1. Opening an agenda item up for discussion
The chair will move to discuss an item.
2. Introducing the item
The person who has prepared the item tells the other participants how they prepared the item for discussion and argues their motion.
3. General debate
The chair opens the debate. During the general debate the motion will be complimented on a general level, or it or its preparation process can be criticized – or both. All possible amendments, and their supporting arguments regarding the issue, rejection motions, and proposals for the shelving of the motion must also be made during the general debate.
NB! Only supported motions move to a vote. You should discuss possible amendments with the other student representatives beforehand to ensure that your motion has support. In administrative organs, where there is only one student representative, it is vital to be well prepared and to discuss the motion with representatives of the personnel beforehand.
4. Debate on details
More detailed discussion on the item and its contents. For example, when drafting the action and financial plans, each section is discussed at a time. The chair decides how detailed the discussion is. The proposed amendments are made and usually the members also compliment the motions they are supporting for during the detailed discussion.
5. Closing of the discussion on an item
The chair closes the discussion and states the resolutions that have been shelved (if no other motions have come forward, move to item 8).
6. Voting procedure
The chair proposes a voting method and an order of voting. Often straw ballot is by a show of hands to make the meeting less time-consuming. The trial vote is not official, and even just a single member can demand a vote. The voting method is chosen based on the issue/motion at hand. The administrative organs of the university use the “parliamentary” and the “collegial” voting methods. Parliamentary voting method is used when there are two opposing resolutions, whereas collegial voting can decide which one of several options has the most support.
Do not be frightened if the chair asks you to cast your vote first – in collegial voting the order in which the votes are cast is decided according to the so-called seniority in office, from the youngest to the oldest. If you find the voting method unclear, or you think that another member of the board has misunderstood it, ask the chair to clarify.
7. The chair states the result of the vote and the resolution that won
Here you can state your dissenting opinion if you cannot stand behind the board’s decision.
8. Closing of the item
The chair states the decision and ends discussion by tapping a gavel against the table.
About addressing the meeting
1. The most common way to ask for permission to address the meeting is to raise your hand. Make sure that the chair acknowledges your request for the floor and accepts it by nodding. Begin your address by thanking the chair for the floor, to make the chair feel good and to make the other participants listen.
2. A rejoinder is a way to address the meeting, that can bypass people on the list of speakers. Making a comment is useful especially when you have already had the floor, have been misunderstood and you want to correct the misunderstanding. Ask to make a comment by raising your hand and saying “comment”.
In practice, it depends completely on the style of the chair whether or not unscheduled comments will be heard.
3. You can ask to make a point of order if you wish to comment on the order of business, the way the items are handled, the chair’s conduct, or when you want to request a break for the meeting. Just like a comment, a request for a point of order will bypass all other speakers on the agenda.
You can find more information on negotiation skills and meeting procedure from:
Huhtinen, P. 2002: Näkökulmia neuvotteluihin ja palavereihin. Puheviestintä, Tampere.
Kansanen, A. 2002: Neuvottelu- ja kokoustaito. WSOY, Helsinki.
Spangle, M. L. & Isenhart, M. W. 2003: Negotiation. Communication for Diverse Settings. Sage, Thousand Oaks, CA.
Tenhunen, M-L. & Tšokkinen, A. 1995: Viestijänä yhteisössä. Kokous- ja neuvottelutaito. WSOY, Helsinki.
Vanha-aho, P. & Mäkelä, K. 2007: Neuvottelutaidon opas. TJS opintokeskus, Helsinki.