The Student Union lobbies for flexible ways of studying. Flexible studies mean that the students themselves can choose how, when and where they study. Digitalization in itself does not solve all problems, but it can be used as a support for a more equal and accessible education.
On October 4th, Åbo Akademi University held a meeting for students and members of faculty about real estate plans. Future plans of the campus in Åbo and the reality of the university’s financial difficulties were discussed. Blåkulla, Axelia and Gadolinia are examples of buildnings ÅAU will no longer use at the end of the year. Every faculty will have to look over their spaces and find economically sustainable solutions.
Education should not become completely virtual
During the meeting, it was mentioned that the Student Union wants more distance teaching and that being one of the reasons the usage of spaces needs to be reconsidered. It is true that the Student Union lobbies for alternatives to old-fashioned teaching, distance learning, but this is only a small piece of a much bigger cake.
Around 5000 people study at Åbo Akademi University. They are all in different stages of their lives, have different learning styles and have different needs in their everyday lives. What the Student Union therefore lobbies for is flexible ways of studying. Flexible studies mean that the students themselves can choose how, when and where they study depending on their circumstances in life, their health and other factors that affect their everyday life. The digital tools that have been developed during the pandemic can make this happen.
Digitalization in itself does not solve all problems, but it can be used as a support for a more equal and accessible education. It should be possible to attend a lecture from home if you feel a bit under the weather even after the pandemic is over, and to take courses virtually between the Vasa and Åbo campuses. Appropriate and available spaces will be just as important after the pandemic as they were before. The need of social contact between students has not vanished because of the global pandemic, in fact, quite the contrary. The pandemic has shown us how important social interaction is for the mental and physical well-being of a person.
ÅAU should conduct a survey about the students’ needs and wishes
The university has conducted a survey about the wishes and needs of the university personnel regarding how they wish to work after the pandemic. A corresponding survey about the students’ wishes regarding their studies and how they wish to study in the future should be conducted by the university as soon as possible. When a university faces challenges, they should be solved with the help of fact-based knowledge. Surveys show that students who belong to a community and feel well, achieve better academic results. Even in the future, students should have the right and opportunity to study on campus, to socialize with other students, and to relax on campus even if the education is digitalized and hybrid models for teaching are developed.
The associations are an incredible asset for ÅAU, and they do a lot of work in the building of the community feeling ÅAU is known for. Student life in both Åbo and Vasa is one of the biggest reasons that people apply to ÅAU. We cannot afford to make further cuts in the asset that are the associations. Short-term savings can have devastating effects on us, the students.
We appeal to Åbo Akademi University to take the need of available and appropriate study spaces seriously. Spaces for studies and the associations’ activities will be needed, now and always.
Chair of the Board
The Student Union of Åbo Akademi University