A project to develop student guidance, supervision and wellbeing has been launched at the University of Helsinki, aimed at developing easily accessible forms of support for students and clarifying current guidance and supervision processes. As part of the project, the resources of study psychologists have already been increased and new guidance counselors recruited. The project is funded with allocations from the Ministry of Education and Culture and the University's own strategic funding for wellbeing.
For Rector Sari Lindblom, who decided on the University allocation, student wellbeing is an important topic:
“The pandemic has been taxing for our students, and there is great demand for easily accessible guidance and advice services that support wellbeing. In the spring, we will specifically concentrate on identifying students who have veered off their study path and those in danger of doing so to offer them targeted support and guidance to the appropriate services. This work will continue in the autumn,” Lindblom says.
Easily accessible support prevents problems
The long-term goal is to intensify cooperation between teachers who offer supervision and guidance, and other parties involved in supervision, guidance and wellbeing activities. High-quality and easily accessible supervision and guidance promote the smooth progress of studies and prevent the onset of problems.
“We will intensify multidisciplinary cooperation between the parties involved in guidance, supervision and wellbeing activities, as well as clarify related service paths. In addition to students, clarifying supervision and guidance activities as a whole benefits teachers. Clearly defined service paths and roles make it easier to direct students towards the right kind of assistance,” says Laura Teinilä, head of guidance, career and wellbeing services.
Support for studying and inclusivity
At the moment, new student wellbeing concepts are being planned, and the range of support services is being supplemented at the University. The aim is to support students’ inclusivity and group identity through events and small-group activities, which are carried out in collaboration with, for example, the Finnish Student Health Service (FSHS) and the students’ mental health association Nyyti.
In small groups supervised by study psychologists, students receive peer support from their fellow students alongside supervision by the psychologists. New groups are launched in each teaching period, and they can be targeted with the challenges posed by the pandemic in mind. In addition, small-group activities headed by guidance counselors will be organised in 2022.
Guidance Corner, familiar from Kaisa House, has been expanded to Viikki Campus, with the opening ceremony of the new Guidance Corner at Info Centre Korona to be celebrated on 28 March. As a new concept, Guidance Corner offers Tomato Thursdays, or guided study sessions based on the Pomodoro Technique. The number of Wellbeing Tuesdays, sessions focused on the promotion of the ability to study, has also been increased and the programme diversified.
In addition, project funding has been used to expand course offerings related to wellbeing: in a new course on improving group dynamics (‘Ryhmät kuntoon’), the significance of social groups to wellbeing is examined and social tools to support wellbeing are developed. The popular Finnish-language course ‘Kohti parempaa opiskelua’ is now available in English (Towards better wellbeing and studying) as well.