How do you define a well-being University of Applied Sciences?
Jamk’s well-being projects (YYamk, OHKE and AHK) have together gathered up and taken a place at campuses. We had a stand at Rajakatu and Dynamo’s lobbies 31.8. and right the next day 1.9. at Jamk’s Back to Campus festival. We asked students two questions: “How do you define a well-being University of Applied Sciences?” and “What advances your well-being with your studies?”. We had many answers and in this blog I interpret the issues of well-being behind the answers.
After a long time of distancing, students talk a lot about soft values such as a supportive and motivating atmosphere at campuses, caring about each other, a receptive work community and a place where you can be yourself. They want their studies to be comfortable, relaxed, and they need support from their fellow students. Because these things are hoped for in many ways of words and expressions we can conclude that behind the answers is a bigger need for encounters and support. In other words, students need communities.
The closest contact to school after other students are teachers of the courses. Teachers’ actions can be observed closely and every encounter with them feels individual to every student. For example adding students to Moodle on time, sticking to the schedules (such as the dates of tests), encouraging students and taking care of their well-being stood out in the feedback for teachers. Students simply wish for teachers to have more time to guide them and it won’t happen if the class sizes climb up to even hundreds of students per teacher. Even though Jamk offers the services of guidance counselors, study psychologists, tutor teachers and even a special needs teacher, they can feel distant when students see their course teacher every week or even every day.
Safety stood out as a strong theme in the answers. After taking cautions, isolating and distancing, students are noticing things that affect not only physical safety but also mental safety. They hope for comprehensive mental health services, flexibility in studies and investments in students’ well-being. Creating a plan for safety in different places or a Code of Conduct would be an important message to students that they have a right to feel safe while studying at Jamk. Because students wish for more events, all of the events should also have a Code of Conduct and a harassment contact person that can be contacted if needed.
The wishes came up for example arranging sleep capsules in campuses, buying sport equipment to advance physical health and being able to get good food also at an evening time. Sleep, exercise and nutrition: to invest in the basic elements of well-being. The wishes seem simple and easy to execute but on the road from wish to concreteness might come up challenges. That is the reason that Jamk has projects that advance well-being issues and invests in the work of guidance and well-being personnel’s work.
We at the YYamk project invest in advancing unity by training teachers, developing tutoring and mentoring and making the services easily and even more accessible. It is very valuable to get feedback directly from students because that is how we know that we are doing the right and important work. The need for communities is up to the roof and there is room for development everywhere. So thank you for answering an easy question in the hallway or at an event, that is where we get power to keep going!
Stella Palassalo, Equal and United University of Applied Sciences (yyamk) – project
The author of the blog, Stella Palassalo, works as a project coordinator in the joint development project of JAMK and JAMKO, funded by the Ministry of Education and Culture