Students’ Rights

Introduction

During your studies in the University of Jyväskylä, have you come across any trouble or offensive behavior? Make sure you know the rules and policies of our university and life on and off campus will go smoother for you and people around you.

This is the essential guide to the basic student rights that all parties of the academic world should respect at all times. The point of view is mainly that of students in the University of Jyväskylä, but many of these rights apply to university students everywhere. The Student Union has compiled this guide from several sources. This is not an exhaustive listing of student rights, but it sets the guidelines for good studying conditions. Even though they are not mentioned here, all students are, of course, entitled to general civil rights as well.

Remember: even if you feel hurt, try to remain calm. Most problems can be solved with a little help from university staff or other students. The Secretary of Academic Affairs and the Secretary of Social Affairs are usually the best people to contact. In an emotional emergency, you can also turn to the harassment contact persons.

  1. Right to a healthy living and studying environment
  2. Right to complete one’s studies flexibly
  3. Right to sick leave and health care
  4. Right to study counseling
  5. Right to study without being harassed or discriminated
  6. Right to financial aid
  7. Right to know the goals and requirements of each course in advance
  8. Right to well-grounded evaluation
  9. Right to receive the grade promptly
  10. Right to retake any exam
  11. Right to equality and special needs services

1. Right to a healthy living and studying environment

You have every right to study and live in an environment that makes you feel secure and isn’t harmful to your health.

The humidity, lighting, background noise and other conditions in your apartment as well as in other studying premises should stay on a healthy level at all times. The owner of the real estate is always responsible for fixing any flaws and maintaining their property in a good condition. If a student detects any health hazards in university premises, they should consult a doctor and inform the administrators responsible for university facilities.

2. Right to complete one’s studies flexibly

You have the right to complete your studies in an appropriate order, without needless delay.

The Finnish university law states that you must complete your studies within certain time frames. In most cases the time frame is 3 years to your bachelor’s degree and 2 years for your master’s degree. Therefore, the university has to arrange enough courses and student counseling for students to keep these deadlines. In case a student runs out of time, he or she can, however, apply for extension from the university in question.

Even though this right might sound a little abstract, it is one of the most important ones. Basically, it comes down to removing all kinds of obstacles and constraints that might delay graduation. Once university staff has approved of the student’s personal study plan (PSP), he or she has the right to study according to it.

3. Right to sick leave and health care

Even a student needs a break sometimes and students have the right to be sick. In other words, the lecturers have the responsibility to make their syllabi flexible enough, so that the students may take a day off when needed.

Students who have paid the student union fee are entitled to use the services of the Finnish Student Health Service (FSHS)

Both the FSHS and the municipal health service are bound by the same health care guarantee. This means that a student has the right to get an appointment within three months, even if his or her condition isn’t urgent.

Students rights for social benefits and municipal health care vary depending on the status of the student.

Students with Finnish citizenship:

If you become ill, you have the right to rest and apply for sickness allowance and housing allowance.

If you don’t earn enough credits because of a short-term illness, it shouldn’t affect your benefits. What’s more, a sick student doesn’t have to try and live with student financial aid alone. In case of a long-term illness, it is usually worthwhile to apply for a sick leave and sickness allowance. This way, you can save your student financial aid for when you really need it. In addition to the services of the FSHS, you are entitled to the services of the local health centers and hospitals. Even if the FSHS offers similar services, a student can always opt to use the services of municipal health care. On the other hand, visiting a local health center might be compulsory in case of an emergency or when the FSHS clinic is closed.

Citizens of other EU/EEA countries or of Switzerland:

Citizens of other EU/EEA countries or of Switzerland who have a European Health Insurance Card are entitled to medical treatment while visiting Finland on the same terms as the local residents. The card should be acquired before arrival to Finland from your local social security institution.

Citizens of non EU/EEA countries:

Citizens of non EU/EEA countries must have a valid health insurance policy in order to obtain a residence permit. The health insurance policy must be valid throughout the stay. For more information consult your insurance company.

Students who study in Finland for at least two years can apply for domicile and receive the right to use municipal health care services.

4. Right to study counseling

You are entitled to counseling and guidance in all stages of your studies.

Studying is much easier and less stressful if you have a professional to organize your study plans with you. The university is committed to providing its students with counseling and guidance throughout their studies. The students should also be able to know about the resources and principles the study counseling programs are based on.

In the beginning of their studies, each student has to create a personal study plan (PSP), which is then gone through with a university staff member. The staff should also guide the students through their most important study projects, such as internships and theses.

5. Right to study without being harassed or discriminated

You have the right to study in a university where there is no harassment or discrimination.

Unfortunately, harassment comes in many forms. It can be actual bullying, sexual harassment or unjust evaluation of one’s work, for example. The university is committed to supporting equality and suppressing discrimination on all levels. This means that a victimized student has the right to receive a written explanation or apology about the events that offended him or her. By law, it is even possible to apply for damages. The harassment contact persons of the Student Union provide emotional support for the victims.

Discriminating a student on grounds of his or her gender, age, religion, disability or any other reason is completely unjustifiable. On the contrary, all educational institutes are responsible for providing learning opportunities for people with special needs.

6. Right to financial aid

Students with Finnish citizenship:

Within certain conditions, you are entitled to financial aid for students. In some phases of your study you might also need parental allowance, social assistance, housing allowance, sickness allowance or exempt amount of income.

Studying is not a stable phase in a person’s life, and students are not all the same. That is to say, different students live in different socio-economical situations. Different situations call for different social benefits. For instance, no one needs to raise their children on student financial aid alone. If you have children, remember to apply for parental allowance from the Social Insurance Institution. As a last resort, students can even apply for social assistance.

Students without Finnish citizenship:

If you are not a Finnish citizen, you may be entitled to financial aid with education in Finland if

  • you are registered as a permanent resident of Finland in the population register system and
  • your purpose for residence in Finland is something other than education (for example, work, family ties or return migration).

If you are in Finland for the express purpose of attending school, you are not eligible for financial aid from Finland.

7. Right to know the goals and requirements of each course in advance

Before the beginning of the course, you have the right to know its level, learning outcomes, completion modes, criteria of evaluation and language of instruction.

The courses have to be conducted according to the information given about them in the syllabi and curricula. The curricula should specify, for example, the goals and requirements for each course. In addition, the work load of each course has to be corresponding to the credits awarded for completing it. The work load cannot be altered mid-course.

If a teacher has to make changes in arranging the teaching or the exam of the course, he or she has to inform the students about these changes as soon as possible.

8. Right to well-grounded evaluation

You have the right to get feedback for your work at least in the form of a grade. In addition, you have the right to know about the evaluation criteria your grade is based on. This way, you can ensure that you have been evaluated fairly. If this is not the case, you have the right to demand re-evaluation.

Contemplating one’s grades is an essential part of a learning process. Thus, it’s the teachers’ duty to give such grades that reflect the skills and development of the student. However, a grade alone is not a sufficient form of feedback.

The same applies to examiners. The student has the right to know the evaluation criteria and the actual requirements of an examination before taking it. The student has the right to read his or her exam paper after the examination and should be able to get a copy of it at his or her own expense. All exam papers are archived for a year after the grades have been given. If a student feels the grade doesn’t reflect the quality of his or her work, he or she can apply for re-evaluation. This has to be done within 14 days, counting from the day the grade was given. The applications are delivered directly to the teacher or, in some cases, to the board of examiners.

9. Right to receive the grade promptly

You have the right to receive grades for your exams, essays and other assignments within two weeks, counting from the day the examiner has received the papers. Furthermore, the grades should be recorded in the study register within one week, counting from the day they were given.

You also have the right to receive your grades well before the re-examination opportunity. Generally, teachers are allowed two weeks for checking and evaluating exams and assignments, with the exception of e-examinations, which should be evaluated in three weeks. Preparing evaluating comments for theses shouldn’t take longer than one month. The dean or the leader of the separate institute can grant the examiner some extra time, but the student in question has to be informed about this. Even with extra time, checking an assignment shouldn’t take more than a month. Deviating from these deadlines is only possible during summer vacations.

It is important that the examiners record the grades in the study register as soon as possible. If a student’s record is not up-to-date, he or she might face problems with graduation, employment or the Social Insurance Institution. Delays concerning the study records cannot be justified by vacations or lack of time.

10. Right to retake any exam

You have the right to retake your exams.

All students have to have an opportunity to retake their exams at least once. At latest, the re-examinations must be arranged two months after the publication of the grades. On the other hand, the students have to have at least one week of study time between receiving the grades and retaking the exam. The students should be informed about the re-examination opportunities well in advance.

If an exam can be taken on a general examination day, students can retake it as many times as they want. However, if a student fails to show up or pass the exam twice in a row, he or she has to consult the examiner before signing up for a new re-examination.

11. Right to equality and special needs services

Should you have special needs, the university has the responsibility to meet them in all stages of your studies.

As long as it doesn’t call for unreasonable measures, it is the duty of all educational institutes to provide equal learning opportunities for regular and special needs students alike. In practice, this means that the university has to make its premises, lectures and learning materials accessible to different kinds of students. If a student demands individualized arrangements on grounds of his or her disability, the university staff should try their best to answer these special needs.