Introductory seminar for the newly elected PhD representatives : A summary of panel discussion

HYVÄT’s first effort to introduce representatives responsibilities and rights successfully took place on Wednesday 16th January in New Student House.

After an introduction about HYVÄT by Anton Saressalo the program continued with a presentation about university administration and the rights of representatives by Harri Waltari.

Anton’s presentation
Harri’s presentation

The seminar also included a panel discussion in which Mariella Aalto-Araneda, Abdelhakim Salem, Harri Mäcklin and Giovanni Canarecci shared their experiences as previous representatives. At the end, about 50 new representatives had the chance to have more free discussions in small groups based on their doctoral schools.

Please find bellow a summary of questions and answers discussed during the panel:

1.How was the workload? Too much? If yes, what could be done to adjust it?

The workload is higher the first year. It is not spread evenly throughout the year: most work has to be done when selecting new PhD students and reviewing applications for salaried positions or when organizing events for the doctoral school.

2. Did the board use English or Finnish? Was language an issue in any way?

From the experience of our panelists, the boards switches from Finnish to English when a non-Finnish speaker joins. Official documents are often still in Finnish, but usually a translation or summary in English is provided by someone on the board. If applications from doctoral students can be send in English and Finnish, this can make it complicated to review them.

3.What was it like to be on the board? Did you collaborate well with the other board members?

In some schools and programmes the atmosphere is friendly and informal. Not a lot of voting is done and most decisions are made unanimously through compromises. On some boards there is a feeling of distance between the student representatives and professors. Professors might be hesitant to organise something extra, like a symposium, until they find out no extra work is required

4.On role of doctoral schools in paid positions

The school has a certain amount of paid positions, which are distributed to the programmes. The way these positions are distributed is done differently in every school. On the doctoral school level, you try to unify between different programmes, such that there are equal opportunities despite the programme.

5.Have you been in contact with the school and programme representatives in your school? How do you keep contact with the other doctoral students?

Some programmes/schools have a Facebook page to keep contact with the students. It is important that your fellow students know that you are their representative, so that they can come to you with possible issues.

6.On issues with supervision

The go to person for problems on supervision is the coordinator of the doctoral programme. Other people are the head of the programme or the head of the department. If the head of the department is the supervisor in question, then the head of the doctoral school is an option.