By Finnish law, all students undertaking Bachelor’s or Master’s degrees must be members of a student union. Doctorate level students and exchange students can join the union if they wish to do so. Aalto University Student Union (AYY, Aalto-yliopiston ylioppilaskunta) is a student organization with 15 000 members.
As a member of AYY you get a lot of student benefits from legal protection to health care (read more in chapter Health care), student meal subsidy and different kinds of free time activities – most importantly, the membership entitles you to get a student card, which is the easiest access to an innumerous amount of discounts and the official proof of your student status.
A lot of campus involvement for students in Finland is based on what the Student Union (e.g. AYY) does. Through them you can get involved in various committees, boards, and clubs. On AYY's website you can find current information about the student union and their events. The website also includes payment instructions and AYY membership fees for each academic year and semester.
Supervision of students' interests
The student unions are responsible for all representation of the students and elect the student members of different administrative organs, including the board of the university. According to the law, there must be student representation in every administrative body of the university. Read more about student advocacy.
The Representative Council is the highest decision-making body of AYY. It is elected by the members of the Student Union. All members, including international students, can vote and run as candidates. The Council then selects a Board that takes care of the day-to-day running of the Union. The operational heart of AYY is the Secretariat, where the Board, the staff and volunteers work to maintain services and benefits and campaign for more, publish the student magazine Aino, arrange parties and events and support the various clubs and associations. The Secretariat is located in Otakaari 11 in Otaniemi, Espoo.
These elected members also represent students in the different decision-making bodies of the university, and promote their interests in society. Through the student representatives, selected by AYY, students influence the decisions made at the University. The international affairs sector of AYY works hard to promote international students’ well-being in Aalto.
Finns are big fans of associations, and many start their “association career” as students. There are around 200 clubs connected to AYY. From sports to culture and politics to international affairs, there is something for everyone. In addition to clubs, taking part in dozens of fun activities every year is an essential part of studying in Finland. Make sure you won’t miss the highlights of the year, such as May Day festivities (Wappu), anniversary balls (Vuosijuhlat), Shrove Tuesday sledging (Laskiaisrieha) and many others. AYY’s international volunteer groups such as Mosaic and ESN Aalto organise awesome events in English throughout the year.
By joining international associations you will get to know other international students as well as Finnish students who are interested in international activities. You can take part in events and trips, have fun and get to know Finnish culture as well as share experiences with your peers. International associations are listed on the AYY's website and you can also join the Facebook group ‘Aalto International’.
Guilds (Technical schools of Aalto)
Attached to each department of the technical schools of Aalto and to the field of architecture is a “Guild”. As a member of the AYY, you have the opportunity to become a member of the guild of your degree programme. The fee for the guild (€8 per academic year) can be paid together with the AYY fee. Guilds have a multitude of social activities and provide you a host of useful benefits. Typically guilds organise sauna evenings, dinner parties, provide information on prospective employers, publish a guild magazine and have their own sports teams. Joining the activities of your guild is one of the best ways to get to know Finns. Each guild has an international officer to ensure you get the most out of the guild. You can find more information on AYY's website. (Unfortunately, not all guilds have web pages in English.)
Primarily for students at the School of Arts, Design and Architecture, the TOKYO association organises all sorts of annual events, such as the ‘Maskerade’ costume ball at the end of October, and opportunities such as student sales in the winter and spring. Register as a member and you will receive updates also in English.
Business students are encouraged to join the KY association. Becoming a member will get you into their parties and events. In addition to upholding traditions and organising plenty of extracurricular activities, KY offers many services and fosters business relations.
The student card is your means to prove that you're a student in Finland in all situations necessary. With the card, you can access all benefits of your own student group, such as national student deals (e.g. train and bus discounts, student-priced meals, Finnish Student Health Service). In addition, you will gain access to all of Frank's (a student’s own discount service) national and global deals. AYY’s website has more information about downloading or ordering the student card. In addition, you can familiarise yourself with student benefits in Health care, Sports, and public Transportation.
There are several student restaurants and canteens on Aalto campuses that offer inexpensive meals for students. You can get the student discount by showing your student card. If you are not a member of the student union, you can ask for a KELA meal subsidy card from the Learning Services of your School. Many student restaurants also give a discount for Doctoral level students, even though this discount is smaller than the one given to Bachelor’s and Master’s level students.