The coronavirus pandemic has taken its toll on the well-being of university students and teaching staff. To support students’ well-being and coping with their studies, the University of Eastern Finland will contact all of its degree-seeking students and actively reaches out to those in need of support. The teaching staff will also be provided with support for teaching arrangements.
Feedback from students shows that almost half of them experience an increased strain, and more than one third feels like they are not getting support from their peers. Moreover, nearly half of students feel excluded, according to a follow-up study conducted by Professor Markku Niemivirta’s research group.
“The pandemic and the exceptional circumstances are continuing, so it is of utmost importance to try to break the negative trend in well-being. The University of Eastern Finland, together with the Student Union, is now taking concrete steps to improve the well-being of students and teachers,” Academic Rector Tapio Määttä says.
Määttä says that over the course of just this spring, the university will launch a model to reach all of its students, hires a third educational psychologist, launches peer mentoring for doctoral researchers, supports the Student Union’s activities relating to active everyday life and physical exercise, and prepares a teaching assistant system to support teachers, to be launched next autumn.
“We will contact all of our degree-seeking students during the spring and summer of 2021 to chart their possible needs for support. The students will be contacted by SMS, email or other online solutions. The aim is to establish a personal dialogue with students, find those in need of support, and guide them to supporting services on a low threshold,” Director of Student and Learning Services Miia Turtiainen says.
For this purpose, i.e. to reach all of its degree-seeking students, the university will recruit well-being coordinators from among students of, e.g., career counselling, psychology, social psychology, social work, health promotion, nursing science and class teacher education.
“We will also invest in the well-being of our teachers and support their work by recruiting some 40 teaching assistants to all schools and departments for next autumn. The aim is to provide the teaching staff with support for teaching arrangements and, for example, in the use of digital tools. In addition, group activities will be organised for second- and third-year students, and for students admitted to Master’s degree programmes in 2020 and 2021, to strengthen their commitment to their own subject and department, and to the university as a whole,” Määttä says.
According to Määttä, a call for applications to the teaching assistant positions, aimed at students, will be published later this spring.
The University of Eastern Finland has also launched a two-year Bridges project to strengthen support relating to student guidance and student well-being. The project seeks to support students’ well-being, commitment and inclusion, and to prevent exclusion. Student advisory services will be digitalised, and students’ well-being will be supported through peer activities and other support measures and activities.
More information on the Bridges project: Bridges project supports students’ well-being – UEF KAMU
For further information, please contact:
Tapio Määttä, Academic Rector, University of Eastern Finland, firstname.lastname@example.org tel. +358 29 4455198
Miia Turtiainen, Director of Student and Learning Services, University of Eastern Finland, email@example.com tel. +358 29 4455159
Professor Markku Niemivirta, University of Eastern Finland, firstname.lastname@example.org, tel. +358 50 518 9827