JYY made a questionnaire for the students of JYU about the starting date of the academic year based on the experiences from this fall. The idea was to get more information about the effects of the decision to start the orientation week already in August this year. The questionnaire was available in both English and Finnish and it was responded altogether by 657 students from all faculties. The most well presented is the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences (respondents 224) and the least presented faculties are Faculty of Information Technology and Faculty of Sport and Health Sciences (47 respondents from both). 80% of the respondents were Finnish students and the rest 20% international and exchange students.
Almost third of the respondents were first year students (n 192). Almost half of first year respondents (45%) experienced difficulties related to housing during the orientation week. They were either forced to rent an apartment from the beginning of the month because of these few days of orientation or had troubles finding a place to stay during the orientation. One month’s rent is a significant extra in the student budget. The right for Kela’s financial aid for students starts in September for new students. In the questionnaire also tutors brought out their worry about the housing arrangements of their tutees in August. JYY is especially worried about the situation of international students, for whom the Finnish rental rate is often high and who usually have less contacts in Jyväskylä beforehand, making couch accommodation during the orientation week difficult.
The schedule of the orientation week does not only affect first year students, but also international and Finnish tutors and the board members of the subject associations, who are expected to organize events for the new students during the orientation week. If the orientation week is organized in August, it doesn’t allow these people to continue their summer jobs until the end of the month. Income from summer job is significant for the whole year budget for many students and even a week’s salary can make a difference. From the respondents in their second or third study year (234 respondents in total) over 40% experienced difficulties related to summer job and the schedule of the orientation. Also a little break on the first week of September, between the summer job and the start of the fall semester, would be beneficial for many students according to the open responses to the questionnaire.
Many respondents were hoping that instead of prolonging the academic year by starting the orientation week already in August, the studies within the academic year could be organized more effectively and evenly to ensure that really stressful and busy peaks would not occur. JYY’s board of executives has discussed the matter and thinks that the practical problems caused by this decision are unreasonable for students in relation to the 4-day extra time this arrangement gives for the fall semester.
If you have any questions or comments about this topic you are very welcome to contact JYY’s Specialist in Social Affairs: