The Board’s meetings with the student councils (March-April)
During March and April, the Board met with most student councils. It was unable to meet the institute of psychology, Narva College and Johan Skytte institute of political studies.
In these meetings, they discussed their activities so far and future challenges, reports, elections, programme directors and appointing student representatives to the attestation committees, proposals to the local government elections’ platform, handover, and statistics useful for representative work.
In spring, we cancelled the event series “UTSU presents” that received little participation in the fall and in virtual circumstances. Still, we think that we should return to it once the opportunity to have physical meetings is stably possible.
That being said, we still organised Volbriöö with UTSU in virtual circumstances, and about 30 people participated in it, both from inside UTSU and outside.
The virtual winter workshop took place 6 – 7 February.
On the first day, we examined communication principles and got acquainted with various design opportunities to make Instagram stories as an exercise for the elections’ campaign. We shared our distance learning experiences and brainstormed for the UTSU 2025 strategy. The number of participants varied throughout the day, but approximately 30 people took part.
On the second day, we had an airsoft battle, where 16 representatives participated.
The feedback to the workshop was positive.
The virtual spring workshop took place 29 – 30 May, and both the current and recently elected (the coming academic year’s) student representatives were invited. The number of participants varied throughout both days, but approximately 50 people participated in total.
Parallel sessions were taking place on both days. The sessions’ topics regarded communication, mental health, argumentation, academic fraud, teamwork (including in a virtual environment), and new representatives’ induction. As a part of the workshop, we also had the handover, which was a success based on the feedback (except in SV, where participation was very low).
On the first day’s evening, we also had the representatives’ recognitions ceremony, after which a socialising event took place in free form.
The Student Parliament’s meetings (4)
The Student Parliament meetings took place in February, March, April and May. During these meetings, the Board and the institute and faculty student councils presented their reports. The Student Parliament approved the schedule for the faculty and institute student councils’ elections and the electoral committee, the updated student body policy guidelines, the UTSU local government elections’ platform, changes to founding documents and the procedure for electing the teaching staff of the year. The Student Parliament elected representatives to FESU’s general assembly and the UT Senate and candidates for FESU’s council. The Student Parliament also decided on UTSU’s visual identity.
You can find more detailed information in the Student Parliament reports.
The faculty student councils’ chairpersons’ meeting convened once, on 5 March, to discuss the agenda of the coming Student Parliament meeting, the UTSU local government elections’ platform and activities regarding the Rector’s Office’s work plan, the faculties’ results agreement, development priorities and strategies. They also discussed potential structural reforms in UTSU regarding the doctoral studies’ reform and student councils’ financing.
The study quality workgroup met five times from the start of February. This semester the meetings were focused on the quality of e-studies and the ongoing changes in restructuring.
Two meetings were dedicated to how to make choosing a speciality more clear to someone applying to the university, and as a result, they forwarded guidelines to the marketing department on how to redesign the external web.
The workgroup met with the University of Tartu Foundation’s chairperson, with whom they discussed the students’ opportunities for scholarships. After gathering their opinions, they presented their proposals in writing. The workgroup gave feedback to the university’s legal acts’ update processes, including the study regulations, the equal treatment guidelines and the procedure for paying study allowances.
The international students’ workgroup met four times from the start of February, and this semester is characterised by bigger cooperation with the Federation of Estonian Student Unions, whose events and activities were introduced more to the workgroup. In collaboration, they organised student activism training for the international students.
The workgroup discussed problems regarding the conditions for applying for a residence permit, and the discussion’s results were forwarded to the Estonian Police and Border Guard Board and the Ministry of the Interior as a request for clarification.
The workgroup also collected feedback on tutoring, which was forwarded to the counselling centre as feedback.
The workgroup continued working with the International Student Ambassadors’ organisation, and together, they organised a web-based board games night.
The workgroup also met with Ülle Tensing twice to discuss various problems.
The doctoral students’ workgroup organised one public bilingual talk night this semester. The workgroup constantly gave feedback to the statutes of curriculum that defines how the doctoral students are represented in the doctoral studies’ committees and the rules of doctoral studies.
The development workgroup met three times this semester, but the number of active members in the group is smaller than the passive ones. Despite this, the workgroup has actively followed composing UTSU’s strategy and the workgroup’s main goal this semester has been to give input to that.
The communications workgroup didn’t meet this semester, but a short communications’ training was conducted for a broader group of representatives during the winter workshop.
With this semester, we finish moving UTSU’s digital repository from Google Drive to Microsoft Sharepoint. The more important general files from both the board’s, office’s and general student union’s folder have been transferred. However, the student councils themselves, who used Google Drive during this year, still have to transfer the files regarding their student council’s work to Sharepoint (under their channel).
The student representatives’ elections took place from 19 April – 23 May this year.
112 students submitted their candidacies for the institute and college student councils, and in total, 2079 votes were cast for them. 29 students ran for the faculty student councils, and 1618 votes for cast for them. After the elections’ results are published, the faculty student councils have to fill the vacant seats.
We can be pleased with the process, as we had minimal technical difficulties and the elections didn’t paralyse the entire office’s work. The study department and IT department were excellent partners.
The biggest voter turnout was in the institutes of genomics, pharmacy and dentistry.
The new strategy (previously called development plan)
The original objective was to approve the new strategy at the Student Parliament’s June meeting, but the wish to create a strategy that would later be useful and actually implementable demands that this goal is postponed. Included in the creation of the strategy are external experts from the Aestia training, who’ve helped us plan and continue the process better.
The new strategy is planned to be presented to the Student Parliament in the fall semester, and it should enter into force in 2022.
Communicating with the university
The Study Regulations
The process to update the Study Regulations was started last year, and it culminated this spring when the regulations went to the Senate at the end of May. UTSU’s proposals were about the general readability and clarity of the document and extending the primary deadline for appeals and reviews, a recommendation to add a chapter on adaptations for students with additional needs, and their complete vision.
We also fought for implementing practises that favour equal treatment in assessments, setting the deadline for publishing the assessments’ results and making it possible to give feedback on the partial assessments in continuous evaluations. The idea to make it possible to defend one’s dissertation before passing the rest of the curriculum with a permit from the programme director and the proposal to allow students to request anonymising the exam order were rejected.
Doctoral studies’ reform
With the doctoral studies’ reform, the regulations for doctoral studies were sent in front of the Senate in May. It’s a new document that concentrates the various provisions regarding doctoral studies that were so far scattered around different documents. The statutes of curriculum were also sent in front of the Senate to create doctoral studies’ committees by faculties.
UTSU made proposals to the new document, mainly regarding the quality of supervising:
The prerequisite for supervising doctoral students should be passing a supervising training;
There should be an upper limit to the number of supervisees (a guarantee that the supervisor actually has time to work with their supervisees);
The doctoral students should have an opportunity to give feedback to their supervisors during the attestation, and the attestation committee should assess the quality of the supervision.
The first proposal was rejected. With the second one, they agreed with the problem, but not with the solution and promised to analyse the situation. The third proposal was added to the draft and got approved by the Senate.
Regarding the statutes of curriculum, UTSUs main feedback was that the doctoral students’ representatives should form 1/5 of the doctoral studies’ committees, and they should be electable. The representatives could be appointed only if the elections fail. Although it wasn’t added to the original draft, UTSU managed to convince the Senate to support the amendment to the draft, and in the future, doctoral students will form 1/5 of the doctoral studies’ councils’ composition.
Mental health action plan
Starting from last year, UTSU, in collaboration with the personnel development centre, has developed a mental health action plan for UT that reflects both the students’ and staff members’ perspectives. In the spring semester, UTSU mainly worked on coordinating the plan with the various stakeholders and improving the action plan will continue throughout the summer and at the beginning of the fall semester.
Need-based special allowance
Already last year, in the context of COVID-19, we discussed the idea that the system for applying for a need-based special allowance should be more flexible in cases of unexpectedly reduced incomes. UTSU’s input was gathered at a talk night and forwarded to the Federation of Estonian Student Unions. Based on these recommendations, proposals were forwarded to the study department. After two meetings with the counselling centre, they reached a decision that the currently unused money will be distributed, based on a ranking list, to the students with partial ability to work and the students to whom or to whose children’s child support money hasn’t been paid out. The legal act will reach the Senate in June.
Statute of the best teaching staff award
This year, UTSU focused on making the statute of the best teaching staff award and the electoral process more clear. An intra-UTSU description of the electoral procedure was created, and the statute of the best teaching staff award was also changed on a university level to make it possible to nominate candidates individually.
Thanks to UTSU’s initiative, a committee to improve the guidelines for equal treatment has started working in the university. During the three meetings that have taken place so far, they have reviewed the process for handling complaints and considered the opportunities to create a support system that encourages equal treatment – which positions should the University of Tartu create or how should they rearrange existing ones. UTSU will present their final proposals at the end of June.
The Academic Committee
The academic committee met three times, during which eight professors were attested, and a position was taken regarding two professor candidates.
The committee also focused on the promotion principles for academic staff members. UTSU’s proposals were that they should take study quality into account in addition to the number of teaching hours, that self-improvement should be a prerequisite for promotions and that the doctoral students’ successfulness should be monitored in the promotion process.
Participating in the university council’s meeting
On 22 February, the student body’s chairperson gave an overview of UTSU and the students at the university council’s meeting. A meaningful discussion followed, where they talked about the financing of higher education, and free vs paid higher education, lessons learned from the covid crisis, inclusivity regarding the international students, expanding Delta’s standard to cover other study buildings, problems regarding external lecturers, collaboration with the colleges, motivating representatives, etc. You can read more about it from the council’s protocol.
MTÜ Üliõpilasküla general meeting
The 14 April meeting had the financial year’s report and approving the budget on the agenda. With the draft budget, they wanted to approve a 10% rise in the rent prices in all dormitories, except the Keres dormitory in Narva. The student body’s chairperson voted against it but was outnumbered. The rent prices will be raised from 1 July 2021.
Closing the Centre of Arts
At the end of the fall semester, UTSU first received hints on closing the centre of arts. With the board’s initiative, an address was composed with the faculty student councils’ chairpersons, in which they asked the Rector and the chairperson of the university’s council to find ways to have the centre of arts continue their activities. On 16 February, it seemed that the address had proven useful, and the Rector’s Office’s action plan included a chapter “agreeing on KUKE’s development concept”.
On 7 April, an official announcement was made on closing the centre of arts. If there were discussions on this topic, then the student union was not included in them. UTSU expressed their indignance both to the university’s management and the media, but it didn’t have an effect: the centre of arts will be closed on 31 August.
Joint projects: university in motion, study areas’ project and studentweb
In March, we received a confirmation on the financing of our projects. The processes have been kicked off in the following ways:
The university in motion project involves multiple UT structure units, and in its process, a competition was organised to raise more awareness and include the entire academic family in creating the movement exercises.
The project is led by the development advisor Kristin Nugis.
Students’ study and rest areas. During the spring semester, UTSU has once again visited all four study buildings included in the project and coordinated the final list of the areas. The next steps involve specific sketches and then public procurement and implementing the project.
The project is led by the policy advisor Õnnely roos.
The student web that will also give us the student app. UTSU hasn’t been as included in the process as we would’ve liked, and the start of the project has moved to the fall semester.
The project is led by the IT department, in collaboration with the study department.
The UT mascot
Last fall, UT started looking for a mascot for itself; the competition was led by the marketing and communications department. UTSU was also included and was represented by the vice-chairperson Trine Tamm; later, the development advisor Kristin Nugis was also included.
The draft mascot “Tiksu” reached the Rector’s Office’s table on 20 May, and UTSU expressed strong support to Tiksu. If we exclude some technical questions, then the Rector’s Office gave an overall endorsement to the draft.
The doctor residents’ electoral committee
Like last year, UTSU had an important role in electing the residents’ representatives to the residency committee. The electoral committee was composed of a chairperson, the student body’s vice-chairperson Helo Liis Soodla, and the student body’s chairperson Karl Lembit Laane and the residents’ representative Teesi Sepp. The elections ended on 13 May.
As a member of the University of Tartu Foundation’s council, Helo Liis Soodla has forwarded the student body’s input to the foundation’s chairperson regarding the timeliness of the scholarship payments and the conditions that excessively narrow the target group. Helo Liis has also participated in the scholarships’ committee’s work as a representative of the council. In the future, UTSU hopes to lobby for creating a scholarship matching software for students that would show users the possible scholarships based on the data from SIS. The idea has been introduced to ITO.
The time to register for subjects
During the discussions regarding the study regulations, an idea emerged to change the time for registering for subjects. Two interns in the study department started working on the project and organised a survey to find out the students’ preferences. The final decision-making committee had Helo Liis Soodla and Riin Tamm as UTSU’s representatives, and now the new time for registering is 21.
The primary feedback from the study department and ITO is that registering at an earlier time worked smoothly.
The meetings of the heads of the institutes
Since this semester, on the Rector’s Office’s initiative, meetings with all the heads of the institutes have taken place about once a month; so far, Karl Lembit Laane has participated in them. The meetings help stay in touch with the topics on the university’s management and, if need be, have our say in them.
Communications with the student body
The educational policy campaign “Inclusivity”
Although at the beginning of the semester, it was planned as a big campaign with multiple events, a podcast and articles, sadly, it wasn’t possible to do everything that was planned. So far, we have an approx. 1,5-hour podcast from our conversations with international students and an article. Another article is yet to be published on the students with additional needs from the perspectives of the UT counselling centre’s counsellor for students with different needs Sille Sepmann and our partner universities.
The University of Tartu student body’s chairperson’s speeches and addresses in the media
Karl Lembit Laane also gave an interview on 2 March on the dangers of the electronic surveillance software Proctorio and on 29 April on the situation of the Estonian language in higher education. Neither interview was published.
The board’s development fund
This semester has not seen any new applications. But the institute of sports sciences and physiology received their water kettle and microwave oven.
The local government elections’ platform
At the beginning of March, a politician from a party approached UTSU and asked for ideas regarding the students they could add to their election platform. Since we do not want to support one specific party, but we find it necessary that the parties take students into account in their programmes, we decided to compose a UTSU local government elections’ platform and included all interested students in the process. On the 8 April student parliament meeting, the parliament approved the platform and soon after, we published it on our website and sent it to all the parties’ representatives. The authors of the programme were the student union’s office members, in the Pärnu chapter the Pärnu College student council, in chapters regarding health, we were helped by the medical sciences student council, and ÜKSA and Ilmar Uduste helped with topics regarding the student body.
Presenting the Eurostudent report
On 7 April, a talk night took place where we introduced the Eurostudent’s mental health report’s results. The report was composed by Merle Purre and Andres Käosaar; UTSU started the project in 2019 and gave extensive feedback to the report. Over 70 people participated in the event; it was moderated by the vice-rector for academic affairs Aune Valk and presentations were made by the counselling centre and the report’s authors. The event received very positive feedback and was UTSU’s biggest outward-oriented discussion night. You can see the report’s summary here.
Communications with external partners
Karl Lembit Laane and ÜKSA’s executive director Ele Laks have discussed the student organisations’ financing model. The phrased models have been submitted to the university.
On 12 May, another roundtable took place, where first and foremost, JUME (the model for the organisation’s management quality and viability) was discussed, along with info minutes.
UTSU was nominated in the ÜKSA Awards in the organisation with the largest societal impact and deed of the year categories. Karl Lembit Laane was also nominated in the student of the year category.
FESU’s general assembly took place 15 – 16 May. On the first day, the monitoring committee presented their report and the board their activity and financial reports. They approved the procedure for issuing the new ISIC cards and decided to put 150 000 euros from FESU’s reserves into investments.
On the second day, the council was elected, including Jay Zameska, Joosep Heinsalu and Aana-Liisa Kaste from UTSU, and the monitoring committee, including Anne Merzin from UTSU. The new board elections also took place – the new chairperson is a UT student and former chairperson of the Estonian School Students Council’s Union, Marcus Ehasoo. The vice-chairperson was not elected, and the general assembly will convene at an extraordinary assembly on 18 June to fix this.
UTSU met with FESU on 11 March, where they introduced their plans to each other and discussed how to maintain good relationships to stand for the students’ interests together.
Meetings with the city
UTSU has made it their goal to increase cooperation with the city, and the first meeting on 10 March was successful. They discussed public transport, foot and cycle paths, mental health topics, and the students’ broader well-being. The cooperation with the city is supposed to continue.
There haven’t been many events that are aimed at the EKKA student bodies during the pandemic. But it is noteworthy that this semester Joosep Heinsalu was elected to the EKKA council as the University of Tartu’s representative.
EU Careers Student Ambassadors
At the beginning of the year, the Government Office contacted us to ask, for the first time in history, if we’d like to authorise someone to be the EU Careers Student Ambassador. The competition was won by Norman Vester, a member of the student council for the School of Economics and Business Administration. His term in office will start in the academic year 2021/2022 and last for a year. You can read more about it in EU Careers.
At the beginning of March, the ENLIGHT network was officially kicked off, and along with it started the development of the programmes that go with it. Multiple virtual conferences have also been held, and UTSU has been a participant in them as a member of the ENLIGHT Student Network. UTSU is represented in the network by vice-chairperson Trine Tamm.
The Board 2020/2021 — autumn semester
The Board’s meetings with all the student councils
In August and September, the student union board met with nearly all the student councils, except the psychology institute’s and Tartu observatory’s. There we introduced the extra opportunities for representing outside the student council, reminded with whom and in what form they should communicate when representing the students and agreed upon mutual expectations and the form of communications.
The event series “UTSU presents”, which was started in the fall, includes the students once a month in the form of a talk night or a social get-together. From the low participation percentage of the fall semester’s talk nights concerning the educational policy campaign on learning outcomes, we conclude that we need to find topics that cater more to the student body. The event at EscapeTartu had the most participants.
The fall workshop that took place on the 19th-20th of September at the Sokka resort had approx. 70 participants. Positive feedback was given to the beautiful location, substantial topics (mental health, digital development, environment, targeting, international students and updating the policy guidelines) and the evening programme, which also included saunas. You can read the feedback here.
The Student Parliament meetings
There were three Student Parliament meetings in the fall semester (in September, October and November) and one e-vote to elect a new member to the Student Parliament. The bigger decisions were the founding documents’ reform, approving the 2021 budget and confirming the wages and work loads of the student union board members. You can read more about these in the Student Parliament’s report.
Work group meetings
The PhD students work group met four times during the fall semester and, among other things, discussed topics like the results of the PhD students’ feedback survey and the quality of supervising. The meetings were bilingual and open to the entire student body. The continuing collaboration with the study department will culminate in the spring semester, with presenting the change proposals to the legal acts concerning PhD studies. There was a continuous input gathering at the work group’s Teams channel on the topics of the vice rector for research.
The international students’ work group met four times during the fall semester. The topics of discussion included study quality and equal treatment. Additionally, collaborating with other student organizations that bring together international students was also considered.
The study quality work group met seven times in total and made it possible for the student union office to operationally give feedback to the materials of the Rector’s office and the study committee, but also to start new processes, such as the good practice of studying and changing the statute of the teaching staff of the year.
The UTSU development work group met five times in the fall semester. The discussions were centered on organizing events and composing a development plan. Despite the events that have taken place, low motivation and participation is apparent.
The digital development work group is a bit different from the other work groups. It was convened in collaboration with the UT head of digital development and is currently mainly focused on the student’s desktop project. Three meetings via Teams have resulted in a strong input to the project’s description and future fate.
At the beginning of the academic year, we moved from Google to the cloud space offered by Microsoft and with the end of the fall semester, we will open access for all the student representatives to the UTSU Moodle course, which contains all the necessary guide materials for their work.
For the first time, the student representatives got the opportunity to earn 6 ECTS for their activities through the project-based internship created in collaboration with FutuLab, which was supervised by Trine Tamm. The internship’s goal is to give a better overview on how to plan your activities and carry them out. 25 representatives joined, including the chairperson of the student union. But fewer people made it through the internship than were originally signed up for it, which is why we conclude that the Board, the ones carrying out the subject, and the representatives had different expectations that require better coordination.
The Christmas party
There were approx. 50 participants at the 17th of December virtual Christmas party. We played virtual games (Among Us, Scribble) and presented the recognitions to the best. UTSU also made a video to announce the recognitions, which you can watch here. /tunnustus/
A present at Tõllakuur was awaiting all the representatives during the Christmas period, which, as of the 28th of January, 101 representatives have retrieved. The feedback has been overwhelmingly positive and thereby we find that this action is definitely necessary, considering the principles of recognizing and thanking the representatives for their volunteer work.
The Board’s meetings with all the Student Councils (March)
The celebration of the 101st anniversary of the creation of the Student Union on the 15th of May
Composing the new development plan
Communications with the university
The feedback to the university’s strategy drafts (financial strategy, spatial development strategy, and the principles of Estonian and internationalization).
According to the University of Tartu development plan for 2020-2025, the university composed three supplementary strategic documents in the fall semester: the principles of Estonian and internationalization, financial strategy and the spatial development strategy.
Our main proposal to supplement the principles of Estonian and internationalization was that all representatives, who are not proficient in Estonian, should be guaranteed the substantial capability to participate in the work of their council and that the responsibility for creating this opportunity must lie on the head of the structure unit. This was formally taken into account with the term “parallel translation” and it was promised to use more technical solutions for it.
We had two bigger proposals for the financial strategy: to clearly state the places for investments into the study quality (additional funding for the work of study consultants and teaching-related training, building up collegial feedback, and creating a comprehensive feedback and quality management system) and to the student body (e.g., supporting student organizations). These proposals were not taken into account.
At the discussions for the spatial development strategy, our proposals to develop Maarjamõisa into a better environment for both the students and the staff, also from a social point of view, to give the student organizations the right to use the study buildings, and to guarantee the university’s environmentally sustainable development, were taken into account.
Every month, we meet with the student representatives who belong in the University of Tartu Senate’s composition and brief them on the coming agenda.
Two of the student union’s proposals have officially been adopted by the changes to the legal acts that made it to the Senate. The first of these concerns the statute of the curriculum and states that from now on, the programme council student representatives can only be appointed if it’s been coordinated with the structure unit’s student council. The second concerns the terms and procedures for reimbursing the costs of level studies and according to this, the right to be released from paying tuition will be expanded from the coming academic year, to also include all students with reduced capability to work, who are studying on an Estonian curriculum full-time.
Study quality and arrangements
Every Friday, there is a meeting between the Vice Deans for Academic Affairs of the four faculties, the Vice Rector for Academic Affairs and the Student Union’s Vice-Chairperson of Educational Policy. This meeting is the main communications channel for opening topics related to study quality and arrangements, which during the fall semester were, among others, e-learning, performance financing curricula and the work of the disputes committee. These meetings are supplemented by the monthly discussion mornings of the programme directors, where the students are represented by the policy advisor.
The students’ protest movement in the School of Law
This semester, the main battle of the School of Law has been against turning the block-mode master’s studies into paid studies, against which the students gathered over 300 signatures in a few hours. The student union board helped both the students and their representatives with advice. Also, the student union chairperson participated in the 9th of November meeting between the students and the university representatives. The opposition from the School of Law’s Council and the Senate’s student representatives ended up as a minority. The student activists from the School of Law are preparing for a legal battle in the courts.
National university 101 (RÜ 101) and the UTSU 100 book presentation
The dance performance “Oh, otsigem…” was created in collaboration between UTSU and Raul Markus Vaiksoo and was supposed to be performed on the stage of Vanemuine, was a part of the grandiose celebrations of the national university’s 101st anniversary. The event that was shrunk down into an online format due to the pandemic, was filmed at ERM’s Black Box and reached the audience via UTTV.
The UTSU 100 celebrations were also overshadowed by the pandemic, but the book that summarized the history and appeared as an important sign, was presented viaUTTV, along with the university’s updated ring, pin, and university cap.
Common projects – developing study areas, school in motion, and the student app.
At the end of the year, the student union started to revision the study areas. A brainstorm led to the idea to have the student union present applications to the university’s development fund, thanks to the call of the Vice Rector of Academic Affairs. Existing and still unused areas in four study buildings were picked out for updating – Lossi 36, Jakobi 2, Vanemuise 46, and Ravila 19a. The collaboration with the estates’ office allowed us to add sketches to the project, for which we are requesting financing of 120 000 euros. The decision will be made at the end of February or at the beginning of March.
In addition to the study and recreation areas project, we also wish to create an image of the University of Tartu as a school that encourages people to move. In collaboration with the marketing and communications department, personnel development center, movement laboratory, and the institute of sports sciences and physiotherapy, we are submitting an application to the development fund to create a video with 60 movement exercises. The videos are planned to be one minute in length and they can be applied both in lectures and more broadly in the university’s marketing.
In collaboration with the IT department and the study department, we have created an application for creating a student desktop, which would fuse the currently different platforms (SIS and Moodle, e-mail if possible). In addition to the web platform, there is a plan to create a smartphone app by 2022, which would fulfill the same function.
The mental health action plan for the university
During the last year, UTSU has worked on creating a mental health and well-being action plan to accompany the UT development plan 2025. We forwarded the action plan to the UT management on the 23rd of January 2021. Included in the creation of this action plan were the student representatives, student organizations, personnel development center and FutuLab.
A mandatory training on education for starting teaching staff
The teaching staff’s continuous in-service training, which enables them to develop their knowledge about teaching, is considered important by the student union. At the beginning of the academic year, we introduced a proposal in the Rector’s office to make it mandatory for starting teaching staff to pass a teaching training. The proposal received the approval of the Rector’s office and the Academic Affairs Committee and has been set in the operational programme of the development plan.
A busy year in the Academic Committee
Due to the routine obligation of attesting academic personnel, the fall semester had a record 41 professors at the attestation. The students were represented at every meeting and based on the qualitative feedback of the subjects, curricula, and students, the suggestions to develop their teaching were passed on.
Collaboration with the quality advisor Since the fall semester, the university has employed the quality advisor Maiki Udam, who is responsible for carrying out the development plan’s sections on study quality, preparing for the institutional accreditation and creating a common quality system. The student union board has met the quality advisor and presented the change proposals to improve the current system. The collaboration will continue in the spring semester in the context of the Senate’s committee, where the students are represented by Rait Bessonov. The goal of the committee’s work is to create a university-wide system of quality assurance.
The Study Regulations reform During the last academic year’s spring semester, a Study Regulations work group was created, which was composed of the student union’s vice-chairperson of educational policy and the legal advisor. Due to the changes in the legal acts, a large part of the work on the Study Regulations was shifted into 2021. The Study Regulations will go to be changed in the Senate at the end of April. The primary feedback of the student union is expected in February, and we will format our proposals for the official coordination in March.
Revision of the guidelines for equal treatment Last year, the student union brought up the need to change the guidelines for equal treatment since according to the current procedural code it is not possible to avoid the conflict of interest of those in dual roles. During the spring semester, the respective committee was formed, which has the student union’s vice-chairperson of educational policy as a member from the student body, but due to the situation of the pandemic, the committee has not been convened. The head of the committee, the Academic Secretary, has promised that the revision of the guidelines will be finished by the end of the spring semester.
Communicating with the student body
Participation in the student fair
On the 9th of September, UTSU participated in the traditional Ole Rohkem student fair, where we introduced the composition, structure, and activities of UTSU as an advocacy organization. The former policy advisor Marge Vaikjärv and the UT student union’s chairperson Karl Lembit Laane carried out a game on the connections between learning outcomes, the interests of the students, and the needs of the society.
An educational policy campaign on learning outcomes
As a part of the campaign that ran throughout the fall semester, the former policy advisor Marge Vaikjärv organized three discussion evenings and published five articles in collaboration with the UT magazine. Although we increased our visibility among the students through the magazine, the participation in the discussion evenings was low. We will learn from the latter for the next time.
The UT student union chairperson’s addresses:
During the fall semester, the student union’s chairperson made seven public or half-public addresses:
In the speech for the student body, in connection with the national university’s 101st anniversary’s canceled procession on the 1st of December.
The cross-cutting issues were the financing of higher education, the access to higher education for all who are academically capable, and calls to organize and stand for one’s rights.
The Boards’ development fund
In November, the student union Board created a development fund, which supports the students’ initiatives to change the university into a better place for studying and being. So far, the institute of Estonian and general linguistics has used the fund to get a microwave and the institute of education got board games. Still in progress are getting reusable dishes to the institute of ecology and earth sciences and a water kettle and a microwave to the institute of sports sciences and physiotherapy.
The visual side of UTSU has had its ups and downs, but now it’s just smooth sailing – we have found the colour combinations and elements that of the existing options speak to us the most. We are a bit anxious in light of the soon-to-be updated UT style book.
Keeping in mind the content-rich articles, spreading messages is the area for development. During the fall semester, in addition to the articles published within the framework of the educational policy campaign, UT magazine also published an article that explained the essence and activities of UTSU. There is an ambition to supplement the homepage with articles that would shed light upon important projects that we could reference on social media. We have also sent out numerous informative bits that introduce UTSU to the other organizations’ collaboration sections.
The educational policy campaign on the university’s openness and inclusivity.
Elections for the student representatives on all levels and the preparations related to it.
Hopefully, moving on with the three previously mentioned UT development fund’s projects.
Communications with external partners
Estonian Federation of Student Unions (EÜL)
Participation at the general meeting on the 21st – 22nd of November 2020
According to the change in the founding documents that entered into force in November, one member of the student union Board is a part of the UTSU representatives at the EÜL’s general meeting – from the current composition it is Karl Lembit Laane.
Participating in the general meeting with a personal mandate was the vice-chairperson Trine Tamm. UTSU’s representatives were also the former student union chairperson Allan Aksiim (now the policy advisor for EÜL), former members of the Social Sciences Faculty Student Council Rainer Urmas Maine and Ismail Mirzojev, the current member of the Social Sciences Faculty Student Council Birgit Helen Tarien and a master’s student in cultural management Kertu Süld.
The two-day general meeting’s agenda had the change proposals for the founding documents, listening to reports, approving the new development plan, action plan, budget, pricing for the ISIC-cards and accepting the Tartu Health Care College into the EÜL. The UTSU faction phrased the most change proposals.
Our proposals were related to a regular and more clearly regulated monitoring, creating a replacement order in the elections of the EÜL council members, directing at least 51% of the output of EÜL’s entrepreneurship to advocacy activities, a more clear time frame for composing the budget and taking the management of regional student organizations (e.g., The Round Table of the Student Unions of the Higher Education Institutions of Tartu) as the responsibility of the EÜL. Every proposal, except the last one, was adopted.
Feedback to the EÜL’s public policy guidelines
For the purpose of giving feedback, UTSU’s Board worked through approx. 35 pages of the EÜL’s public policy guidelines. In June, we made the proposal to rethink the format for presenting the policy guidelines. After the formal changes were dropped, we also made substantive proposals in August, which haven’t been taken into account.
Meeting with their head of marketing in order to discuss collaboration
On the 8th of December, the student union board, UTSU’s marketing and communications specialist, and EÜL’s head of marketing Gerlin Gil discussed the possible collaborative spots between TÜÜE and ISIC. As a result, we see the collaboration mainly in the fall, where university is started by new students, for whom it is important to be in touch with the available discounts. As a second and bigger thought, we could try to unite the activities of the university in motion and ISIC’s actions/games/campaigns that invite people to move more.
ÜKSA (the Student Body Foundation)
Participation in the collaboration seminar of the student body and universities.
The Student Body Foundation arranged a collaboration seminar for the student body and the universities on the 12th of November. Our student union was represented by Trine Tamm and Karl Lembit Laane, whose main goal was to design a common sentiment that it would be possible for the student organizations to use the university’s study buildings without having to pay a fee and that the University of Tartu would consider creating a separate “Student House” for the student organizations. ÜKSA composed their own summary of the event and will continue to communicate with the universities on these topics.
The Student Body Foundation’s council
On the 26th of January, Trine Tamm was elected to be the UT student union’s representative in the Student Body Foundation’s council. During the fall semester, the ÜKSA council had two meetings, where, among other things, they discussed the communications strategy and elected a new executive director.
On the 17th of November, the U4S yearly conference took place, where the UT students were represented by the student union’s vice-chairperson Trine Tamm. Taking into account the new consortium, where all five of the U4Society universities participate, the network was standing in front of a difficult decision on how to carry on in the light of limited resources. At the meeting, it was decided to keep U4S as a network but to carry out only a minimal programme during the following three years. The students first and foremost stood up for the continuation of the leadership training, and a respective address was written on it to the U4S rectors.
At the end of 2019, a consortium of eight universities called Enlight started a collaboration. In the summer of 2020, it received a positive financing decision from the financing measure of European Universities for carrying out a three-year project. In order to find the methods that are appropriate and work in the covid crisis conditions, multiple meetings were held in the fall semester. The project is focused on, among other things, learning mobility, digital collaboration, and empowering the students and teaching staff. The University of Tartu is represented at the Enlight student network by the vice-chairperson Trine Tamm.
EÜL’s general meeting in the middle of May
Collaboration with EÜL on the topics of the conditions for granting the need-based special allowance and preventing gendered and sexual harassment.
Collaboration with ÜKSA on the process of the next academic year’s freshmen’s goodie bags.
Events of the Enlight project throughout the spring semester, starting from March, the theme for 2021 is inclusivity.
The Student Parliament 2020/2021 – spring semester
In the academic year 2020/2021 spring semester, four Student Parliament meetings took place: 11 February, 11 March, 8 April and 13 May (in addition to the current 10 June meeting). All meetings were held virtually. Between 26 February and 3 March, an e-vote was held to approve a new Student Parliament member.
The Student Parliament is the University of Tartu student body’s highest decision-making body composed of all four faculty student councils, with 20 members. The Student Parliament members by faculty are the following:
Faculty of Arts and Humanities: Imar Koutchoukali, Pille-Riin Makilla, Tuuli Põhjakas, Ahenkora Siaw Kwayke and Kerdo Kristjan Tamm (chairperson).
Faculty of Science and Technology: Brigitta Rebane, Karel Paan, Anton Žatkin, Kärt Soieva and Ilmar Uduste (chairperson).
Faculty of Medicine: Aana-Liisa Kaste, Liisa Marie Kerner, Polina Gladkova, Martin Špol and Liisa Ansip (chairperson).
Faculty of Social Sciences: Grete Põlluste, Denis Larchenko, Birgit Helen Tarien, Grethel Mets and Joosep Heinsalu (chairperson).
The following will give an overview of the most important Student Parliament decisions by meetings. You can see the protocols here, the e-vote’s protocol here.
11 February meeting
At the meeting, the reports from the board, Student Parliament, faculty student council and monitoring committee were introduced to the Student Parliament members. The changes to the founding documents (student body statutes and general electoral procedure) were approved. The changes to the statutes concerned institute councils: if normally there’s a requirement that all institute councils must have 1/5 of their composition made up of student representatives, then from now this requirement does not apply to institutes that don’t manage any curricula. These institute student councils were also included under the principle that the student representatives are elected by the institute’s student body, not appointed first off by the faculty student council. These changes apply to the student councils of the genomics institute and Tartu observatory. Appointing student representatives to programme councils was also regulated more specifically.
In addition to the previously mentioned, the Parliament also approved the new student body policy guidelines, in which the most important changes were that the guidelines are written as visionary and that it’s not so much the student union’s guidelines, but the student body’s, which expand to cover all members of the student union.
The Parliament also approved the schedule for the 2021 elections and the electoral committee for the 2021 faculty and institute student council elections, with its members being Helo Liis Soodla, Katariina Sofia Päts and Martin Pärn.
The Student Parliament meeting was chaired by the vice-chairperson of the Federation of Estonian Student Unions, Joonas Nõgisto, and protocolled by the legal advisor Riin Tamm.
E-vote 26 February – 3 March
The e-vote was about deciding whether to approve Pille-Riin Makilla, a student of the faculty of arts and humanities, as a new member of the Student Parliament, to fill the vacated seat in the faculty of arts and humanities’ block.
The Student Parliament approved Pille-Riin Makilla as a new member of the Student Parliament with 17 votes in favour (two did not vote).
The vote was conducted in the UT document management information system (DHIS).
The e-vote was initiated by the UT student body’s chairperson Karl Lembit Laane.
The e-vote’s protocol was composed by the UT student union’s legal advisor Riin Tamm.
11 March meeting
The procedure for electing teaching staff of the year was introduced and approved at this meeting. In regards to UTSU’s visual identity, the Parliament approved joining the University of Tartu’s new style book. It was decided that the student senators and candidates for the Federation of Estonian Student Unions’ council and general assembly members will be elected at the 13 May extraordinary Student Parliament meeting.
At the meeting, the University of Tartu Student Union’s vice-chairperson of educational policy, Helo Liis Soodla and the marketing and communications specialist Silja madison gave an overview of the developments and plans regarding the student councils’ elections. They informed the Parliament that the electoral procedure had been translated into English in full. The electoral committee’s job is to make the electoral procedure accessible to the entire student body at the beginning of the elections’ period.
The Student Parliament’s meeting was chaired by the student body’s chairperson Karl Lembit Laane and protocolled by legal advisor Riin Tamm.
8 April meeting
On 8 April, the Student Parliament had on their agenda: discussing and approving UTSU’s local government elections’ platform, discussing UTSU’s new strategic plan, discussing the need for amendments in the procedures for dismissing student representatives and appealing said decisions, discussion on the necessity of the UT student body standpoints on the Estonian language, and -as per FESU’s request to receive the candidates’ list from the universities already by the end of April- electing the candidates for FESU’s council.
At the Student Parliament meeting, the members heard the board’s presentation on the local government elections’ platform, and after a discussion, they decided to replace the sentence “The car free area in the city centre will expand: Ülikooli street from Vallikraavi to Munga street, Küütri street, Kompanii street, Gildi street” with the sentence “The city favours creating car-free areas”. After this change, the Student Parliament approved the platform.
There were three candidates from UTSU to FESU’s council: from the faculty of medicine Aana-Liisa Kaste, from the institute of philosophy and semiotics Jay Allen Zameska and from the institute of education Joosep Heinsalu. All of their candidacies were approved. Proposals were made regarding the procedure for dismissing representatives and appealing said decision in the meeting. Student Parliament member Denis Larchenko made a presentation on the concern about the status and use of the Estonian language in the University of Tartu and called upon the student body to develop more specific standpoints regarding it. The board and the student parliament took note of the information.
The Student Parliament’s meeting was chaired by the student body’s chairperson Karl Lembit Laane and protocolled by legal advisor Riin Tamm.
13 May meeting
In this meeting, it was decided that from 1 July, the student representatives in the Senate will be Kertu Liis Krigul (LTT doctoral student), Joosep Heinsalu (SV master’s student), Stella-Maria Kangur (MV I – III bachelor’s/integrated studies student) and Imar Koutchoukali (HV doctoral student). Erik Mandel and Uku Kangur are on the alternate list. From 17 May, UTSU’s representatives at FESU’s general assembly are Kertu Süld, Uku Kangur, Karel Paan, Helo Liis Soodla, Trine Tamm and Karl Lembit Laane.
In this meeting, the procedures for dismissal and appealing the decision were changed so that student representatives can be dismissed by a decision-making body that’s one step higher (in case of an ISC, their FSC, in case of an FSC, the Student Parliament). The Parliament also received information that the process of composing the strategic plan is extended, and UTSU’s strategic plan will be ready in the fall semester of 2021.
The Student Parliament’s meeting was chaired by the monitoring committee member Katariina Sofia Päts and protocolled by the legal advisor Riin Tamm.
The Student Parliament 2020/2021 — autumn semester
During the 2020/2021 academic year’s fall semester, three Student Parliament meetings took place: on the 10th of September, on the 8th of October, and on the 12th of November. The first of these took place, as is tradition, in the University of Tartu Senate hall; the rest were virtual. Between the 22nd and the 29th of September, an e-vote took place on confirming a new member of the Student Parliament.
The Student Parliament is the University of Tartu student body’s highest decision-making body, which is composed of the student councils of all four faculties, in a total of 20 members. The members of the Student Parliament, according to their faculty, are as follows:
Faculty of Arts and Humanities: Imar Koutchoukali, Annabel Parts, Tuuli Põhjakas, Ahenkora Siaw Kwayke and Kerdo Kristjan Tamm (chairperson).
Faculty of Science and Technology: Brigitta Rebane, Karel Paan, Anton Žatkin, Kärt Soieva and Ilmar Uduste (chairperson).
Faculty of Medicine: Aana-Liisa Kaste, Liisa Marie Kerner, Polina Gladkova, Martin Špol and Liisa Ansip (chairperson).
Faculty of Social Sciences: Grete Põlluste, Denis Larchenko, Birgit Helen Tarien, Grethel Mets and Joosep Heinsalu (chairperson).
According to the meeting, the following will summarize the most important decisions of the Student Parliament. You can read the protocols here, and the e-vote protocol here.
The meeting on the 10th of September
The Student Parliament’s new composition convened for a meeting for the first time on the 10th of September, but in a smaller than usual composition: the Faculty of Science and Technology Student Council was reduced by one member since the representative status of their representative Aravindan Sooryanarain had ended together with their status as a student. The new members of the Student Parliament were introduced to the Student Parliament’s rules of procedure, the members of the student union board and office, the previous report from the monitoring committee, and were given an overview of the ongoing process of the election of teaching staff of the year. The previous Student Parliament meeting’s protocol and the regular Student Parliament meeting times for this academic year were also approved.
The speaker for the Student Parliament meeting was the student union chairperson Karl Lembit Laane and the meeting was protocolled by the legal advisor Riin Tamm.
The e-vote on the 22nd – 29th of September
In order to fill the seat left vacant by Aravindan, the chairperson for the Faculty of Science and Technology Student Council Ilmar Uduste presented as a candidate Kärt Soieva from the physics, chemistry and material science curriculum, who became a candidate out of the wish to “make positive changes and with that make the university more awesome”. The Student Parliament approved her as a new member of the Student Parliament with 17 votes in favour (two members did not vote).
The meeting on the 8th of October
Discussions were about, among others, the UTSU statute of recognition and the student union board’s workload and wage levels. With the first, the Student Parliament approved seven categories of recognition: the mega representative, the spirit of UTSU, the old-timer award, the deed of the semester, the innovator, the most hardworking team of the semester, and the outside helper. It went into force right after approval and you can read about the first people recognized here. You can read the statute of recognition in full here.
The discussion on the board’s workload and wage levels was prompted by the task set by the previous composition of the Student Parliament at their last meeting – to “explore opportunities to give deserved remuneration to the student union board”, since previously the student union chairpersons’ wages were set by a single decisions from the Student Parliament and it wasn’t seen as sustainable in the conditions of the current inflation. Since the University of Tartu Student Union is in parallel also a University of Tartu structure unit and the chairperson’s wage was already set by the minimum rate of the wage level for the head of a structure unit, the board’s proposal was to also set the vice-chairpersons wages by the minimum rate of the wage level for the vice-heads of a structure unit. The board also made the proposal to lower the student union chairperson Karl Lembit Laane’s workload from 0,8 to 0,6 and to raise the workload of UTSU’s vice-chairperson of development and foreign relations Trine Tamm from 0,4 to 0,5. Both proposals were approved.
The speaker for the Student Parliament meeting was the former chairperson of the Federation of Estonian Student Unions Britt Järvet and the meeting was protocolled by Riin Tamm.
The meeting on the 12th of November
There were three topics under discussion at the last meeting of the fall semester: UTSU’s budget for next year, another change in the board’s workload and the reform of the UTSU founding documents.
The board’s budget draft was approved without any changes. The budget is in total 152 978 euros, with the biggest expenses being labour costs (91 760 euros) and the stationery and administrative costs (40 780 euros), which, for example, includes organizing the three UTSU workshops (13 000 euros), UTSU’s Christmas party and birthday celebration (in a total of 10 000 euros), financing the freshmen’s goodie bags (3500 euros) and the board’s development fund (1450 euros). The board made the proposal to reduce the chairperson’s workload to 0,5 and the vice-chairperson of development and foreign relations back to 0,4 in order to use those released funds for other activities. A majority of the UTSU income comes from the university’s main fund (146 255 euros), the rest from other sources.
The changes in the founding documents were related to the student union statutes, rules of procedure, and electoral procedure. The most important substantial changes were related to the election of the board and themes related to the EÜL.
The regular elections for the board take place after every two years and in the spring, which guarantees handing over the office during the summer, which will allow the new board to get used to the job without the pressure and workload of their studies. Also, one of the board members is, from now on, an ex officio member of the EÜL general meeting, as they are in the Senate.
As a result of other changes, it is possible to present one’s candidacy application also as scanned, it is possible to fix shortcomings in the applications, and in the case of e-voting, there is a clearly marked difference in the period of discussion over a draft and voting over the draft (respectively, three and five days).
The speaker for the Student Parliament meeting was the former chairperson of the Estonian School Students Councils’ Union Marcus Ojasoo and the meeting was protocolled by Riin Tamm.
Privacy & Cookies Policy
Necessary cookies are absolutely essential for the website to function properly. This category only includes cookies that ensures basic functionalities and security features of the website. These cookies do not store any personal information.
Any cookies that may not be particularly necessary for the website to function and is used specifically to collect user personal data via analytics, ads, other embedded contents are termed as non-necessary cookies. It is mandatory to procure user consent prior to running these cookies on your website.