Student political program

Approved by the Student Union Council 2020-11-25

Umeå Student Union’s core mission is to work to make student life and education better through advocacy work and add the student perspective. Umeå Student Union represents all students in the Humanities, Social Sciences and Teacher Education.

Every day, there are students who represent other students in various councils or groups, which instill the student perspective in Umeå University’s activities, but above all in education and courses. The purpose of the Student Political Programme is to create a long-term perspective, transparency and sustainability in the advocacy work that elected representatives do within the organisation.

Umeå Student Union creates its politics and advocacy work based on the foundation of this Student Political Program.

Our Student Political Programme

Founding philosophy

What is Higher Education?

Higher education is one of the great carriers of knowledge in society. Higher education should be a fundamental pillar of the knowledge society. Curiosity and learning new things about the world around us and oneself have driven people throughout the decades, and this is still the case today. The provision of higher education should be broad and not dependent on the labour market or political priorities. Knowledge and research should be permeated by academic freedom and not governed by the premise of the labour market.

Who is higher education for?

Higher education should be open to everyone, regardless of background. Everyone should have the opportunity to apply for higher education. The goal of higher education is for all admitted students, regardless of their circumstances, to achieve passing grades. Therefore, resources are also needed in the form of academic support during the course of education to achieve these goals. Regardless of the circumstances, the potential to move forward in academia should also feel like a real opportunity. We can’t insist on being or creating a society based on knowledge if everyone do not have genuine access to education.

Student roles in developing education

Umeå Student Union knows that students have a important role in the development of education. The students are receivers and co-creators of education and are therefore qualified to have an opinion on the knowledge exchange between teachers and students. Together, all actors in higher education at the University work to disseminate knowledge and maintain the knowledge society. That students should participate in the education is written into the Higher Education Act, but Umeå Student Union’s desire is that representatives at universities and colleges should understand the value and protect it, regardless of legislation.

Environment and conditions

The Umeå student union also pursues issues with and against the outside world that may have an impact on students. Under these headings, you can read about the Umeå student union’s stance on, among other things, study funds, rent, housing situation and fees linked to education. Here you will also find a section dealing with the conditions for a good and inclusive student city. These are issues that can be pursued with and against actors outside the university, such as the municipality and housing companies.

Many students move long ways to study in new cities to get an education. The housing market is therefore an important part of the students’ choice of place of study. Students are a heterogeneous group, which is why a variety of housing is needed that suits students in different situations. Studies are a student’s main occupation during their years at the university and thus CSN is the main income. Rent must be reasonable in relation to the main income.

With increased digitization, housing is now also an important part of student life. The home’s ability to create a safe and calm environment for the individual is a core in reducing stress, insecurity and other consequences of an insecure housing situation. Student housing must be close to the university, have a reasonable rent and offer a good standard of living so that students are given good conditions to succeed in their studies.

The possibility of university studies should not be hampered by an individual’s socio-economic background. The prerequisite for studies is currently made possible by students being offered student loans by the Swedish Board of Student Finance. Support and interventions such as student loans should be adapted for lifelong learning and enable university studies throughout life. For example, parenthood should not prevent the possibility of university studies.

Full-time studies are a full-time occupation and should not be combined with work as far as possible. In relation to today’s cost development over time, students are highly vulnerable, especially due to increased costs related to accommodation, course literature and the demand for technical equipment that is increasing. These expences, which have historically increased, contribute to the fact that the loans and grants offered do not correspond to the actual costs incurred for studies as full-time employment.

There shall be no fees linked to education. If there are additional expenses in relation to compulsory elements, such as placements, study trips and internships, the university must provide financial compensation/support. It should be clear where and how to apply for financial compensation/support. There should also be equality between the programme, department and faculty regarding which funds and how much can be applied for by the student.

A university is a centre of culture and knowledge. Within the university and college, there is a diversity of students and researchers who have applied to universities together for enlightenment and knowledge. As a regional university city, the city is also a student city. A city where students are a significant part of the business and cultural life.

An attractive student city is a city that not only benefits students and their well-being, but also contributes to the city’s development as a whole. The city should be welcoming to students in the form of an accessible city for all. Good transits by bus and train is extremely important for a good student city. There should be discounted bus passes for students adapted to the student’s income. There should be activities that draw attention to future professional opportunities in the region where the university operates.

Clear information from the municipality, city and region about how and where the student can turn for public services such as healthcare, contact with authorities and municipal services should be visible and clear to the student when moving to the city. It should also be stated which housing companies operate in the city.

Culture and a vibrant cultural life should be an ambition. An accessible cultural life that should be easy to participate in, but also the opportunity to be involved and create as a student. How you as a student can be engaged and participate in cultural life should be an ambition to make visible. Cultural events should be discounted for students so that one’s finances are not dependent on taking part in cultural life.

Just like culture, opportunities for sport and athletics are also important, for physical as well as mental health. There should be good opportunities for recreational opportunities that are financially accessible to students. The possibility of organising sports and sporting events should be good and accessible to the public. The Student Union, together with societal actors such as the municipality and the region, will strive to make Umeå Sweden’s leading student city.

Education quality

Representing students and adding a student perspective to educational issues is, together with the study environment, the core issue for the Umeå student union. Under these headings, you can read about the Umeå student union’s stance on educational issues such as, for example, teacher-led time, pedagogical adaptations and quality-assured pedagogy. Internationalization, connection to working life and connection to research are also touched on under the heading Education.

To be able to absorb one’s education, the education must have a pedagogical base. All teaching staff must therefore take courses in higher education pedagogy. All teachers should feel that they have the time and opportunity to develop their teaching skills without it affecting either teaching time or research. Developing pedagogically should not be in conflict with research. Research links as well as pedagogy are equally important for the quality of education.

Courses must be planned with a well-thought-out and even pace of study in order to strive for an even workload throughout the course. Communication between teachers and a well-thought-out pedagogical plan are important so that a course does not have an uneven and unpredictable workload, which can lead to stress for the student. Programs must have a clear progression and, even there, be well thought out so that the workload is reasonable during the course of the program.

Umeå student union believes that time with teaching teachers is valuable for the quality of education and learning. Ensuring a reasonable and adequate amount of teacher-led time for all students must therefore be prioritized. Costs that eat up from the teacher-led time must be covered by something else. The university has a responsibility to look at the whole and guarantee good and equal opportunities for every education. Today, we have an uneven distribution of the number of teacher-led hours in higher education. This distribution must be equalized so that the quality of education does not depend on the subject being studied. Teacher-led time provides an opportunity for academic conversations. There is a value in the conversation which books and reading cannot replace. Teacher-led time with a good pedagogical structure must therefore be prioritized.

Tutoring time for larger written works is important for the student to feel confident in his writing and anchored in the subject and the situation. Supervision time and the opportunity for supervision must therefore be good. As a student, you should not be surprised by the reception of your work at the opposition. Therefore, it is also important that the examiner and supervisor have good communication.

Everyone comes to higher education with different conditions. There must be pedagogical support for those who need it, regardless of whether the studies take place remotely or on one of the campuses, in terms of study techniques, mathematics, academic writing or other factors connected to the studies. It is important that such bodies at universities are equipped according to the real need.

Furthermore, there must be obvious ways for educational adaptations for people with functional variations. It must be done in the most flexible way and not burden the student in question with extra work in the form of finding adaptations themselves or looking for adaptations that can be obtained. All teachers and other employees who have contact with students must be well informed about which adaptations are available and where the student should go to get them.

An education must feel meaningful and thus it must be anchored in the outside world, both in terms of research and society, as well as current labor market connections.

Higher education must primarily rest on principles of academic freedom in terms of education and research and thus be autonomous in its position in the knowledge society. Secondly, education is a place to acquire knowledge for a future professional life. Therefore, it is important that education is also anchored in society and within the future profession. Students’ knowledge, both practical and theoretical, must be relevant and useful for a future life and thus also professional life. Contact with working life is an important element in the education to create relevance and anchoring outside the academy.

In addition to links to working life, education within the academy must be characterized by a strong link to research. Research connection should, together with pedagogy, form the backbone of the education. Higher education rests on research for relevance as well as truthful and nuanced knowledge. Teachers must have the opportunity to conduct research to ensure a close relationship between teaching and research in the academic context.

Students must have the same opportunity, regardless of background and conditions, to progress within academia and pursue a research career. The path to a research education should be visible to all students.

Today’s society operates in many ways in an international environment. An international perspective is therefore an important element of the education. In the structure of the programme, there must be the possibility of exchange semesters. Internationalization can also take place through guest lecturers, perspectives from other cultures and countries and through the course literature. In today’s growing global society, higher education must take internationalization into account for relevance and quality. Higher education must also be available to international students who come to study. Important information must be available in English.

Students are recipients of education. Part of higher education is that the student is trained in analytical thinking. This analytical thinking can also be turned inward to the education itself. Students’ perspectives and opinions must clearly permeate the development of courses and educations. Students bring a recipient perspective that is impossible for teachers to have as experts/knowledge in their field. Since the main purpose of education is to educate, it would be unreasonable of the students’ perspective if the education was not taken into account. Obtaining the student perspective must be seen as self-evident and in practice be relevant at all levels of the university.

Working environment/Equal conditions

A good working environment is crucial for a good education. Both physical work environment in the form of study places and equipped classrooms to psychological work environment in the form of treatment and adequate resources for Student Health. Under this heading, you can take the Umeå student union’s stance on a good work environment, both psychologically and physically.

Students have the right to a healthy study life. It is a fact that Sweden’s student population has a high frequency of mental illness. It is a joint social responsibility that this trend ends. Universities and colleges must actively work with preventive measures to counter mental illness among students. Teachers should actively receive information about what supports are available for students, both preventive and treatments. There must be activities and support to equip students’ mental health during their studies.

Student health care must be designed to meet the needs of reality. Student health must work with prevention and early interventions against mental and physical ill-health.

An important factor for students to feel welcome and motivated is the reception from the staff and teaching staff of the universities and colleges. It is important that teachers highly value their treatment of students both individually and in teaching. A student should never leave a lecture, seminar or university office feeling offended, ill-treated or called stupid. All teaching staff should take courses in hospitality as part of their university education. At the university, there must also be an effort to continuously discuss one’s professional role as a teacher or study guide from an ethical perspective.

The university is the students’ workplace. Study places must therefore be designed according to criteria on how a good workplace is designed. The number of study places must be adapted to the real need. There should be a variety of study places available such as, group rooms, individual places, group places and quiet study places on all campuses that are part of the university’s operations. No student should experience stress over not finding a study place at their workplace, and thus students should have good access to study places.

Classrooms and lecture halls across the campus must have equivalent equipment in order to conduct teaching in a good way. The equipment must be appropriate for the form of teaching. Inadequate or lacking technical aids should never interfere with teaching. Lunch places, with the possibility to heat your food, must be located close to the classrooms.

Students with functional variation must have the same opportunity and conditions to take part in teaching. Course literature must be adapted, for example read in good time before the start of the course and the campus must be easily accessible regardless of functional variation. Teachers must be well aware of what resources are available at the university, both for their own teaching and to be able to refer the student on to the right institution.

Since it is largely the students’ workplace, it would be unreasonable if the student perspective was not taken into account in dialogues about the work environment, psychological as well as physical. Each individual student’s experience and experiences are extremely important to the development of an accessible campus. How adaptations are received is important to know what can be improved. Most students also live in a small area and then the university’s premises become even more important to feel comfortable in so as not to feel stressed or be affected to such an extent that you feel that studying becomes difficult. Students should actively ask how they experience the campus and in what way the campus can be developed. Even when it comes to digital platforms, the students’ perspective is important because it is their work tool.