In 2020 Arcada made a giant leap forward in support of student well-being. In order to support the students in their learning, career and coping competence, a new Counselling and Student Well-being unit was established.
The unit is lead by Annika Stadius, Head of Counselling and Student Well-being.
– We provide study and career counselling, psychological services and support for students with special needs. Arcada is now in a position to provide wider psychological services, but even so, it is still a major challenge to move up an increasing number students who are in need of more support and help. There is a serious shortage of Swedish-language psychological services in the Helsinki area. We must make an active effort to create new networks, Stadius says.
The new unit will provide a sounding board and support in matters of studies, career and coping competence, how to approach the studies and how to look at one’s future.
The aim of the unit is to meet the increased need. Today, studies are demanding in a way they haven’t been before, says Stadius. In order to complete their studies successfully, the students must possess self-discipline and the ability to work independently – no less true in 2020, with everything overshadowed by a global pandemic. Remote studying brings new challenges and new support requirements. Investing in the unit was deemed a long-term effort, but it turns out to have brought immediate results and the timing was actually better than what could have been foreseen. The unit is a complement to already existing support facilities at Arcada.
– We already have amanuenses who provide guidance on questions concerning studies and course choices, as well as study services, who help the students with administrative matters. The new unit will provide a sounding board and support in matters of studies, career and coping competence, how to approach the studies and how to look at one’s future, Stadius says.
Arcada is a pioneer in investing in well-being and in identifying how well-being influences everything.
The aim is to help the students to reflect on their studies in a more general way, but also to support them in taking an active role in shaping their own future. Unfortunately, many young people are worried and stressed by the everyday life of a student, which sometimes leads to interrupted work. This type of, largely unnecessary, interruption can and should be prevented with the right kind of support.
– I am very pleased that Arcada has chosen to invest in a wider scope of student well-being. We think it is important to help the students get used to reflecting on who they are, and to take responsibility for their studies and their lives. This way, we help students graduate, but we also provide them with the kinds of competence they will need in their careers. Arcada is a pioneer in investing in well-being and in identifying how well-being influences everything, Stadius concludes.
Support for Swedish speakers in Finland
The question of education and degrees is also a question of economics and politics. According to statistics from the Uusimaa Centre for Economic Development, Transport and the Environment, in July 2020, there were 597 NEET youths (16- to 29-year-olds Not in Employment, Education or Training). In July 2019 the number was 232. This is an increase of 157 per cent in one year.
We must prepare our youth for continuous learning: ”I’m here now, this is where I’m going, but then where will I go?”. Completing a degree is not the final step.
According to Stadius, a changing society means that we have to assume that, in ten years’ time, certain jobs and fields will no longer exist. Other kinds of work will have replaced them. Still, it shouldn’t be necessary to acquire three or four degrees to have access to the labour market. One basic degree should be sufficient, to be complemented with shorter study modules. This environment is frequently experienced as a jungle and students may need help and support to cope.
– We must prepare our youth for continuous learning: ”I’m here now, this is where I’m going, but then where will I go?”. Completing a degree is not the final step. You complete your degree, yes, but you aren’t likely to remain in your first job for the rest of your life and this point is emphasised more and more. Today, a student needs career and coping competence.
The main target group for the unit is the student body at Arcada, but we also work outside the university. The unit has published digital self-help material available to the public (in Swedish), for instance at the website fullkoll.fi. We also collaborate with Practicum, a secondary vocational institution.
– The strategic aim of Arcada is to provide lifelong career support for a sustainable and fulfilling life, and with Practicum we aim to build a career centre to serve our students and also a wider target group. With this joint project and our digital service efforts I think the unit and Arcada play a major role in providing young Swedish speakers with support in a general way, says Stadius.
The first Swedish-language SIMHE higher education institution in Finland
From 2021, the Counselling and Student Well-being unit will also provide SIMHE services (Supporting Immigrants in Higher Education in Finland). Briefly, this entails providing support for immigrants who have chosen Swedish as their first language.
Our approach is based on the fact that those who choose to integrate in the Swedish language, already tend to have a higher level of education. These people shouldn’t have to start over from the beginning.
The unit provides guidance among the alternative Swedish-language study paths in Finland, thereby facilitating entry into the job market in Finland. In 2020 Arcada was granted the status of the first Swedish-language SIMHE higher education institution in Finland.
– In time, the unit will also be offering validation services, that is, support for immigrants in having their already acquired competences recognised nationally. Our approach is based on the fact that those who choose to integrate in the Swedish language, already tend to have a higher level of education. These people shouldn’t have to start over from the beginning, but instead should be able to build on a previously completed exam, Stadius says.
All Arcada students are welcome to reach out to the Counselling and Student Well-being unit. You will find all support functions of Arcada in the digital study guide Start. External link