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.
The payment instructions and AYY membership fees for each academic year and semester can be found at https://ayy.fi/en/students/membership-and-fees/payment-instructions/. You must pay this fee before enrolling at the university (more information in Enrolment).
As a member of AYY you get a lot of student benefits from legal protection to health care (read more in chapter Health), 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. Find out about current information and events through AYY’s weekly newsletter (available in English) and also sign up to receive it by email. See AYY’s website: ayy.fi/en
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 on AYY website.
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 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 a student. 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.
The AYY international affairs sector promotes the internationalisation of Aalto University from a student’s point of view and acts as an advocacy body for international students. The goal is to ensure that Aalto University offers its students diverse, functional and rewarding internationalisation opportunities both home and abroad.
The International Degree Students' Committee (IDSC) helps international students’ advocacy work by functioning as a link between AYY sector for international affairs and the international student community. A typical form of IDSC action is representing international students in the preparation phase of AYY’s policy decisions. More information: international(at)ayy.fi or join the IDSC Facebook group.
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.fi website and the Facebook page ‘International AYY’.
Attached to each Department of the schools on the Otaniemi Campus is a “Guild”. As a member of 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 the homepages of the Guilds. (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. Visit their website tokyo.fi.
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. See their website kyweb.fi.