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STUDENT UNION OF THE UNIVERSITY OF HELSINKI
LANGUAGE STRATEGY
APPROVED BY THE REPRESENTATIVE COUNCIL 21 NOV 2013
A
1/11
Language Strategy of the Student Union of the
University of Helsinki 2013–2018
Table of contents
1 Introduction...................................................................................
2
1.1 Current state .................................................................................................... 2
1.2 Key values......................................................................................................... 2
2 Future vision and objectives..........................................................
3
2.1 Equal opportunities ......................................................................................... 3
2.2 Lively trilingualism in everyday life .............................................................. 3
2.3 Language issues concern everyone ................................................................ 3
2.4 Positive basic attitude ..................................................................................... 3
3 Languages in practice.....................................................................
4
3.1 Finnish, Swedish and English in HYY's activities........................................ 4
3.1.1 HYY's Board and specialists ...................................................................... 4
3.1.2 Communications .......................................................................................... 4
3.1.3 Areas of responsibility and translators ...................................................... 4
3.1.4 Services for members and organisations ................................................... 4
3.2 Advocacy .......................................................................................................... 5
3.2.1 The University of Helsinki .......................................................................... 5
3.2.2 Finnish Student Health Service and Nyyti ................................................ 6
3.2.3 Foundation for Student Housing in the Helsinki Region........................ 6
3.2.5 National Union of University Students in Finland ................................... 6
3.2.6 Svenska studerandes intresseförening ........................................................ 7
4 Implementation and follow-up ......................................................................... 7
1 Introduction
1.1 Current state
In September 2013, the Student Union of the University of Helsinki had approximately
1,800 Swedish-speaking students and approximately 2,000 international students. The
Swedish language has the official position in the Student Union, which is written in the
constitution. The Student Union's language of administration is Finnish. HYY is the largest
bilingual student union in Finland. Bilingualism obligates the Student Union to provide
services and inform the members in both official languages.
The increasingly international university brings more international students to HYY, whose
language of studies and communications is mostly English. This increases the pressure to use
English both at the university and in the student union, as well as creates an obligation to
include international students as part of the student union, the academic community and
their activities.
The student union also has Swedish and English organisations, which should receive
necessary information on various organisational services and be able to operate within the
student union similarly to the Finnish organisations.
1.2 Key values
The student union's official languages and English are seen in a positive light and the
necessity of the use of all languages in terms of equal treatment of the student union
members is understood.
Diverse ideas and practices enrich the student union activities. Students' language should not
prevent them from operating in the student union or identifying themselves with the
organisation. Opportunities to operate in various languages enable inclusion. When the
Finnish and Swedish-speaking members find information and services in their mother tongue
and the international students find the same information in English, the representatives of
these groups can act in the student union and find their own student union identity.
Multilingualism and internationality enable the participation of diverse members and
operators in the student union. The student union's language strategy is a tool and guideline
for practical implementation.
2 Future vision and objectives
2.1 Equal opportunities
HYY's activities and services are easily accessible to all members. The central office serves
the members and organisations in Finnish, Swedish and English. Relevant information both
to organisations and members is available in all three languages. Members have equal
opportunities to act in the student union, regardless of their language.
2.2 Lively trilingualism in everyday life
Finnish and Swedish are spoken in all HYY's organs, both in festivities and everyday life.
HYY's
operations are characterised by lively trilingualism; everyone knows that they can speak
Finnish, Swedish or English and they also have the courage to do so. The student union's
trilingualism is also visible at the grassroot level in the everyday life of the Finnish members.
The Finnish, Swedish and English organisations within HYY cooperate in three languages.
2.3 Language issues concern everyone
Language issues concern everyone and they are visible in all activities. Communications and
member services operate in Finnish, Swedish and English. Advocacy work applies to all
students regardless of their language. Therefore, these languages should be present in all
advocacy work and events. Active Finnish members also bring up language issues in
advocacy work and make initiatives related to the Swedish and English languages. All the
student union members remember that there are Swedish-speaking and international
members in the student union and all of them do not speak Finnish.
2.4 Positive basic attitude
The use of different languages in HYY does not feel forced. The student union operators
understand that it is useful to have the opportunity to practise and use several languages.
Languages are part of everyday life in HYY also among the central office staff, and the
attitudes towards bilingualism and internationality are positive. Communications in each
language is functioning and it is easy to use the language preferred by a person.
3 Languages in practice
3.1 Finnish, Swedish and English in HYY's activities
HYY is officially a bilingual community, which should be reflected in all its activities. All
members have the equal opportunity to run errands in HYY and therefore the use of English
is essential. The student union's most important documents, such as the constitution,
strategies and the Board programme, should also be available in Swedish and English.
3.1.1 HYY's Board and specialists
Both the central office employees and elected officials should seek to ensure that HYY is
actively a bilingual student union where also the English language plays an important role.
Signs and notices concerning exceptional opening hours of the central office, for example,
should be available in Finnish, Swedish and English. The use of different languages is
regarded as a positive matter. Several languages can be used in a discussion at the same time
if the participants understand them.
3.1.2 Communications
HYY takes languages into account in information and communications. HYY's
communications should be available in three languages when possible.
3.1.3 Areas of responsibility and translators
HYY's staff, the Board and other operators are together responsible for the implementation
of language issues. The board member and the specialist in charge of language issues and
international students have a specific responsibility to monitor and develop language issues.
The entire student union is responsible for the promotion of language issues and the areas of
expertise cooperate actively. Through cooperation, HYY also conveys a natural attitude
towards the use of Swedish and English to other organisations and operators.
A part-time Swedish translator and a part-time English translator work in HYY.
3.1.4 Services for members and organisations
Information on the student union services for members and organisations is easily available
in Finnish, Swedish and English on HYY's website, for example. The member and
organisation newsletters, in particular, should be available in Finnish, Swedish and English.
The member newsletter is sent in a member's native language if it is Finnish or Swedish. In
other cases, the newsletter is sent in English. E-mails distributed more widely to the
Representative Council and members must include at least the titles in Finnish, Swedish and
English.
HYY's services office also provides members and organisations with high-quality service in
Swedish and English. The student union's other services are provided in three languages.
Child care services and legal aid operate in Finnish, Swedish and English and will continue
to do so. The student calendar is published in Finnish and Swedish.
Ylioppilaslehti and Studentbladet are used as equal information channels for members. HYY
encourages both Ylioppilaslehti and Studentbladet to also use English in the magazine.
HYY's organisations are regularly reminded of the student union's trilingualism and they are
encouraged and supported to parallel language usage.
3.2 Advocacy
3.2.1 The University of Helsinki
HYY's aim is that the University of Helsinki develops internationalisation opportunities on
its own campuses by investing in an international learning environment. In addition,
cooperation with other Nordic universities is expanded, especially in relation to teacher and
student exchange. HYY actively supports the university both in mobility and the
development of internationalisation at home.
HYY encourages international students to participate in university administration and also
promotes the possibility to use languages other than Finnish in administration.
Studies:
Teaching in a foreign language or in Swedish must be of the same quality as teaching in
Finnish at the University of Helsinki. Language skills of the teaching staff are taken into
account already in the recruitment situation. The staff also have the opportunity to develop
and maintain their language skills by participating in language courses and international
teacher exchanges.
HYY is actively working to improve the conditions of the Swedish-speaking students to
study in their native language. HYY ensures that the University of Helsinki remains bilingual
and interdisciplinary and has a national responsibility to educate Swedish-speaking lawyers,
veterinarians, social workers and doctors, and thus has an important role as an institution
which maintains and develops the language.
There should be an adequate number of positions for teaching in Swedish. An important
goal is that Swedish-speaking students receive study counselling in their mother tongue and
international students receive counselling in English. Examination questions should be
available in fluent Swedish. Students also have the opportunity to respond in lectures and
present their own assignments in Finnish, Swedish and English. The right to write a thesis in
a student's own national language must be secured.
Services:
International students should have the opportunity to receive guidance and counselling in
English and Swedish-speaking students should receive the same services in their mother
tongue. It is also important that support services, such as the University's website, the
electronic desktop of university students (Moodle) and the intranet Flamma, as well as
library and IT services operate in Swedish and English.
3.2.2 Finnish Student Health Service and Nyyti
HYY aims to improve the making of appointments and health care in English and Swedish
and supervises the implementation of the language strategy of FSHS. FSHS should provide
the staff with the opportunity to develop their language skills.
HYY promotes the collection of information related to the international students' health
care and needs in order for FSHS and Nyyti to develop services for international students.
3.2.3 Foundation for Student Housing in the Helsinki Region
HYY particularly works to improve oral Swedish language services at Hoas. HYY
encourages Hoas to take language skills into account in the recruitment process in order for
Hoas to guarantee customer service in Swedish as well as appropriate development and
updating of forms and agreements.
3.2.4 City of Helsinki
The growing number of international students in Helsinki need services outside the
university. Many international students also have the opportunity to register as municipal
residents. Municipal services are available in English to a varying extent. The interpreting
services of the City of Helsinki offer many the opportunity to receive health care services in
their mother tongue. On the other hand, the authorities still communicate only in two
national languages.
3.2.5 National Union of University Students in Finland
Material intended for union meetings, sector meetings and other similar events should
continue to be translated into Swedish in advance. All campaign material must be available
in Swedish and in English, when necessary, as soon as possible. HYY encourages SYL to
report on their activities and important advocacy changes also in the English language.
3.2.6 Svenska studerandes intresseförening
Currently, the primary duty of Svenska studerandes intresseförening (SSI) is to publish
Studentbladet magazine. HYY supports SSI in this activity by purchasing column space for
HYY page in every issue. In addition, SSI should take a more active role in strengthening the
cooperation between the Swedish and bilingual student unions in Finland. HYY encourages
SSI to prepare more initiatives related to advocacy issues. This can be implemented by
increasing cooperation with SYL, for example, where SSI could act as an expert in bilingual
issues.
4. Implementation and follow-up
The language strategy should be evaluated at the end of each year. The evaluation is
conducted by persons in charge of international affairs and bilingualism. Based on the
evaluation and the conclusions, the new Board evaluates the need to update the strategy at
the beginning of the year. If necessary, the Board takes measures to improve and develop
activities and the position of both Swedish and English languages in the student union and
the university. The language strategy is available in Finnish, Swedish and English. This
strategy should be updated at least once every five years, next time in 2018.
Appendices (2)
Appendix 1: Swedish and English communications of the Student Union of the University of
Helsinki in practice
The purpose of this document is to provide concrete examples and support internal operations
defined in HYY's language strategy in practice. The document is available in Finnish, Swedish
and English.
Useful information channels and documents which are systematically translated in HYY are
defined below. In addition, each student union operator (specialist, board members, committee
members) should take into account the need for Swedish and English communications in their
activities and consider which information and current material in one's advocacy sector should
be available in Swedish and English.
Channels for the Swedish communications
●
HYY's Swedish website
●
Swedish organisations operating within HYY
●
Swedish-speaking students mainly use the same e-mail lists as the Finnish-speaking
students. Specifically Swedish e-mail lists are:
● [email protected] of the Committee for Bilingual Affairs
● With the permission of the university, all Swedish-speaking students of the
University of Helsinki can be reached through [email protected] list
● The Committee for Bilingual Affairs
● Student Calendar
● Studentbladet's HYY page
● HYY's printed material in Swedish, such as the Freshman Guide
● Member newsletter (member newsletter is sent to students through hyy-info list
every other week during the academic terms)
● HYY's Facebook and Twitter when necessary
● Facebook page of the Committee for Bilingual Affairs
Channels for the English communications
● HYY's English website
● E-mail lists of international students: [email protected], [email protected]
● ESN Committee and other committees which use the English language
● English-speaking organisations within HYY
● The English section in the student calendar
● HYY's brochures in English, such as the Freshman Guide
● The student union's section in the Orientation Handbook
● University's blog for international students
● University's facebook page for international students
● HYY's Facebook page and Twitter when necessary
Material translated into Swedish
● All material produced and published in HYY is translated into Swedish, with the
exception of administrative documents, such as the meeting material and agendas of the
Board and the Representative Council. Administrative documents are translated on
request. In addition, a Swedish summary of reports and statements is sufficient upon
request.
Material translated into English
● All necessary material produced and published in HYY is translated into English
when possible, with the exception of administrative documents, such as the meeting
material and agendas of the Board and the Representative Council. Administrative
documents are translated on request. In addition, an English summary of reports and
statements is sufficient upon request.
The material listed below are always translated into English
● Freshman Guide and the welcome letter for new students
● Website
● HYY's Constitution
● Material related to the Representative Council elections
● Information material concerning major events, such as the anniversary week,
opening carnival and the events for new students, Flower Day, Independence Day, etc.
● Member and organisation newsletters and other current releases when considered
necessary
● Position papers
● Summary of reports
● Summary of statements published on the website
● Surveys
● Recycling guide, housing guide
● Member and organisation forms
● Terms of use for HYY's facilities (also terms of use for the Old Student House)
● Facility booking system
● Organisation service guide
● Operating grant application
● Signs and guides
● Invitations
Material for translators
Information should be published in all three languages at the same time when possible in
practice. Proofreading and translation projects must be agreed well in advance both with the
translator and the communications officer. Material should be sent to the translator at least two
days prior to publication. A text proofread by the communications officer should be delivered to
the translator. You should mention the type of the text (release, statement, invitation, etc.),
where the text is published and the date by which the translation is needed.
Contact information of the translators:
The English translator: Johanna Kouva, [email protected]
The Swedish translator: Theresa Norrmen, [email protected]
Measure
Area of responsibility
Vision
Future vision and
objectives
Equal
Multilingualism is seen as an asset, not as all, administration
opportunities
additional work. The services office could
introduce language flags to clarify the
primary service languages.
Lively
Student union speeches are held, if
all
trilingualism in
everyday life
possible, in three languages.
Coffee breaks in Swedish are organised
regularly at HYY's office.
Languages are a
common issue
Positive basic
attitude
Languages in
practice
Student union
operations
person in charge of
language issues, services
office, communications
Often used brief communication texts are person in charge of
available in three languages.
language issues
The orientation of the Board includes a person in charge of
section on the significance of languages in language issues
the student union activities.
Language skills are emphasised in the
administration
recruitment of the staff members.
A positive campaign on multilingualism is language sector,
created with the university.
communications
The chairperson checks at the beginning
of a meeting which is/are the most
suitable language/s for the meeting in
question.
Printed publications are available in three
languages if possible.
Board and
The Board and specialists are encouraged
specialists
to use a language that is natural to them.
Communications All e-mail messages sent to the
in three languages Representative Council or members must
include at least titles translated into
Swedish and English. Formal spelling is
not so important as the fact that the
message reaches the members.
Every board member and specialist is
responsible for trilingual comunications
and taking translation work into account
in the implementation schedule.
All services at the services office are
available in three languages. Facebook
status updates are written in three
languages. On Twitter, the most natural
language is used depending on the
message.
Areas of expertise Each board must ensure that there are
organs that are responsible for advocacy
work related to language issues. The
board member in charge of language
issues provides adequate information for
the board on the status of languages in
the student union and the university.
Organisational
Organisations are informed about the
services
reception of international students.
administration
communications and
advocacy
all
all
all, communications
board, chairperson
international affairs and
persons in charge of
organisations
persons in charge of
organisations
Organisations are encouraged to
cooperate across language barriers and
organise activities in two languages.
Organisation training sessions are
persons in charge of
organised in three languages. Material
organisations, language
can be translated and the key words in
issues
the presentation can be written in
Swedish and English in the presentation.
Advocacy
Studies and
services
FSHS and Nyyti
SYL
Cooperation
Internationalisation should be part of the
personal study plan HOPS.
Internationality and language studies are
highlighted in the university's career
services.
Cooperation with Svenska ärenden unit
and faculty councils so that each student
can study in Finnish, Swedish or English.
international affairs
international affairs,
working life affairs
person in charge of
language issues, persons
in charge of academic
affairs
HYY supervises that the language
person in charge of
strategy of FSHS is put into practice and language issues and the
lobbies for English services provided by person in charge of social
Nyyti.
policy
The student union has influence with SSI person in charge of
on SYL to provide meeting material also language issues
in Swedish and in English if necessary.
When looking for campaign partners,
all, person in charge of
HYY's operators remember to take
language issues
multilingualism into account and different
partners accordingly.
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