Why is HYY, the Student Union of the University of Helsinki, involved in development cooperation?
According to the Universities Act, the mission of the Student Union is “to raise students to an active, political, socially aware, and critical citizenship.” HYY has a long tradition in development cooperation, which has been and still is seen to be a central part of the tasks defined by law for the student union. Development cooperation is also outlined in the section “Social Impact” of HYY’s strategy: primarily, the Student Union monitors and comments on social changes affecting students’ lives. However, student union members are not detached from the rest of society; different social issues affect students’ lives, even if they are not directly related to university or study. The Student Union has various means to raise awareness of themes that are important to a whole generation. HYY wishes to set an example in its actions — by participating in development cooperation projects, treating its actors and partners responsibly, and adhering to the values its organization pursues.
In 2006, HYY decided to spend 0.7% of its operating budget on development cooperation. With this HYY wants to set an example for Finnish government in raising development cooperation appropriation to 0.7% of gdb corresponding to the UN recommendation for western economies. HYY managed to reach this goal ahead of time in 2008, and has ever since directed 0.7% of its funds to development cooperation.
HYY´s budget consists of two parts: annual membership fees from students and profits from HYY conglomerates turnover. The proportion of the former is around one third and latter around two thirds. The decision to allocate 0.7% of funds to development cooperation has not increased membership fees for HYY members.