Students’ rights and responsibilities

Students’ rights and responsibilities

Students’ rights

The list of students’ rights and responsibilities is a tool for constructive dialogue between students and the University staff. If you want to stand up for your rights, the best results are often gained by engaging in a dialogue and validating your own perspective, as well as being open to opposing arguments. The list offers references of the practical and principle rights that the University of Tampere must offer their students.

The university community consists of three parties: teaching and research staff, other staff, and students. In addition to their rights, all group have responsibilities towards the other members of the community, so that the University is the best possible place for learning and research as well as a significant member in the society.

Learn more about the principles and obligations of a good university community here.

A short list of what you are entitled to as a student:

Students’ responsibilities

This list offers a general overview of the things that students should take into consideration at various points in their studies.

Several of the responsibilities do not belong to the student alone. In many cases it is crucial that the University enables the student to carry out their responsibilities. Respecting good scientific practice, for instance, requires that the students are taught the relevant rules and practices.

A short list of student responsibilities: 

As a student, you are entitled to:

Receive guidance counselling. (Universities Act, section 40)

Students have a right to receive guidance counselling and the University is obligated to provide it.

Guidance counselling is extremely important and it helps you to choose the most suitable and interesting optional subjects from the university’s wide selection. Good education includes counselling, but you should take time to plan your studies, discover your interests and discuss those interests with a professional. Guidance counselling helps you to progress in your studies and maintain a good motivation level. Peer counselling can be extremely useful, but it should always be only supplemental to professional guidance counselling. With optional subjects, you add to your skills and learn to market them to interesting employers. Systematic guidance counselling is an important part of planning your personal curriculum, which is in no way binding but extremely useful.

You have a right to get proper thesis supervision, too. If your thesis supervisor seems to lack interest in your work, you have a right to change supervisors to receive proper advice.

Flexible studying. (UTA Regulations of Degrees, section 16, section 23-24, Universities Act, sections 41, 42, 44)

The University has to arrange its curricula flexibly, so that students can graduate within the specified time frame. The time frames vary between different programmes. You may apply for an extension to complete your degree, a minimum extension time is six months and maximum two years.

The University curricula include many different methods to complete courses. You may choose any of the listed methods to complete the course.

Students have the right to study during the summer.

The special feature in the University of Tampere is the possibility to select any courses as optional subjects.

Accessible studying. (The Constitution of Finland, section 6, Non-Discrimination Act, section 5, Universities Act, section 37 aUTA’s Regulations on the Assessment of Studies, section 38, Disability Services Act, section 8 c)

Students have a right to complete their studies unimpeded and receive assessments of their own coursework in proportion to their impediments.

Equality is one of the basic human rights written in the Constitution of Finland. This also applies to unimpeded studying. No one can be put in an unequal position because of an illness, disability or any other reason pertaining to the person in question. All students must be guaranteed equal opportunity to their studies. The Non-Discrimination Act also covers education and forbids discrimination in receiving education. In addition, the education provider has to, if need be, take measures in assuring a disabled person’s access to education and progression in their career.

If a student has an impediment and has a proven limitation like sensory impairments, dyslexia or panic disorder, they can qualify for special assessment practices and alternative ways of completing courses, provided they inform of their impediment in advance. The municipality provides seriously disabled people with personal assistants, should they need it. You can find more information on the University’s accessibility here and on Tamy’s accessibility page.

Receive results on coursework within three weeks. (UTA’s Regulations on the Assessment of Studies, section 29, UTA Regulations on Degrees, section 26-28, UTA Guidelines, section 13, section 16)

Assessing an exam or other coursework can take a maximum of three weeks. If the maximum time is exceeded, the student has a right to demand a grade for their coursework. The three week assessment period is also valid with electronic exams. Coursework done during the summer has a longer assessment period.

Receive rectification on the assessment of coursework or thesis. (Universities Act, section 82, UTA Guidelines, section 16, UTA Regulations on Degrees, section 26-28)

If a student is dissatisfied with the grade received from coursework, they have a right to appeal to the instructor who graded the course or to the person who decided on the number of credits to be transferred. An appeal against a grade received for a course must be lodged within 14 days of the date the student has access to the grade. A student can appeal in writing to the administrator of their faculty. If the student expresses their dissatisfaction with the decision on the request for rectification in aforementioned coursework or thesis included in intermediate studies, they can appeal to the University of Tampere’s Appeals Committee.

A student dissatisfied with the assessment and grade received from coursework in advanced studies can appeal in writing from their Faculty Council. An appeal against a grade received for an advance studies course must be lodged within 14 days of the date the student has access to the grade.

When looking to appeal on coursework, you should first contact the Head of Student Affairs, who will be able to advise you in the appeal process. If the Faculty Council will deem it necessary, they will name a third assessor for your coursework, whose assessment will be decisive.

The University of Tampere’s Appeals Committee cannot reassess advanced studies coursework that has already gone through the appeal process.

Receive feedback on an exam, essay or other coursework(UTA’s Regulations on the Assessment of Studies, section 2, section 27)

Even studies assessment is a learning situation. This sentence is rarely remembered after coursework is completed. For a student to learn, it is extremely important to receive feedback of their coursework. A grade is not enough, so to guarantee learning it would be good to go over all the work done during a course. Written or oral feedback of coursework gives a student a more comprehensive picture of what areas they might need to work on.

In addition, a student can request for a copy of their exam answers from the teacher responsible for the course up until six months from receiving the exam results. Students are entitled to information about the application of assessment criteria regarding their coursework, and have a right to know the basis for their assessment.

Retake an exam. (UTA’s Regulations on the Assessment of Studies, section 11-13)

A student has the right to retake an exam.

A teacher must give a student a change to retake a failed exam at least once, or if they want, try for a higher grade for an already passed exam. The new exam must be taken within reasonable amount of time from the date the student has access to the grade, and the retake exam time should be known to the students well ahead of time.

While the Regulations on the Assessment of Studies doesn’t explicitly state it, this should be obvious when organizing a retake exam: the retake exam should be timed so that there is enough time to prepare for the new exam between the announcement of the grades and the retake exam time.

A thesis that has been examined and approved cannot be retaken. If a student completes the same course unit more than once, the highest grade and/or higher workload prevails.

Receive financial aid.* (The Constitution of Finland, section 19, Income Support Act, section 2, chapter 2-3)

The student’s main source of income is the student financial aid, which consist of three different components: the student grant, the housing supplement, and the state-guaranteed student loan.

In addition, the student are entitled to basic income assistance in the case their income is not enough to cover their necessary expenses. If your necessary expenses exceed your disposable income, you might be eligible for basic income assistance.

Basic social assistance is a last-resort form of financial aid and its purpose is to secure the applicant’s immediate income security. Because basic social assistance is a last-resort measure, all income is considered primary income. All assets which can be realized are taken into account and are considered as income (securities and investments, shares, savings).

For a single person living alone, the basic part of the basic social assistance is EUR 485.50 at the moment. The basic part should cover the necessary daily expenses, such as groceries. Other expenses which are taken into account are only the necessary basic expenses such as reasonable rent, the electricity bill, the public health care costs, and the costs of prescription medications. The student loan, which part of the student financial aid, is calculated as income together with the student grant and the housing supplement, regardless if the student has actually been withdrawing the money or not. The withdrawal of the loan is not required, but it is calculated in the estimated monthly income. The student loan is not taken into account if, for example, the student has not been granted the loan because they have a bad credit history.

The student has an equal right to basic social assistance, just like all other groups, if the applicant meets the approval conditions! There’s no harm in applying for basic social assistance, even if you are not sure if you are eligible or not. The decisions are made on the grounds of the application, so be sure to attach all relevant documents, such as receipts of health care costs or proof of bad credit score, with the application.

* Most of the information presented above assumes the student is a Finnish national or a permanent resident. You can find more information on who is eligible for financial aid and income support on Kela’s web page and on the web page of the City of Tampere.

Take sick leave and have access to public health care.* (Health Care Act, section 17, Health Insurance Act, chapter 8)

The Finnish Student Health Service (FSHS) is the primary health care provider for students, and it is specialized in student health care. However, in July, during the evenings and weekends the centres of the FSHS are closed. During these times, the students should contact the municipal health care services which are on call during the summer time as well. As a student, you have the right to municipal health care services regardless of your home municipality. Post-graduate students are not eligible for student health care services.

Studying at the expense of one’s health is not at the best interest of the student, and it is not a good idea to do so. A student has a right to take sick leave, and thus, to receive sickness allowance. The sickness allowance is paid after the ten working day qualifying period from the start of the sick leave has passed. Despite the qualifying period, you should apply for the allowance if the sickness is not short-term and it will prevent you from studying normally. Applying for the sickness allowance will save you months you are eligible to receive student financial aid, and it will also make sure you will not be at risk of losing your financial aid because your studies have not progressed enough to qualify for the student financial aid. The amount of sickness allowance you will receive depends on your work-related income or benefits you were receiving before the sick leave started. Since 1.1.2015 it has been possible to study while receiving sickness allowance (12 credits per term or 24 credits per academic year). To have the right to study, the student has to have a doctor’s certificate proving their inability to work.

*Most of the information presented above assumes the student is a Finnish national or a permanent resident. You can find more information on health care services, costs, etc. for international students in the International Student’s ECTS Survival Guide.

Study without being subjected to discrimination or harassment. (The Constitution of Finland, section 7, The Act on Equality Between Women and Men, section 5-8, section 10-12, Non-Discrimination Act, section 6)

According to the Constitution of Finland: “No one shall, without an acceptable reason, be treated differently from other persons on the ground of sex, age, origin, language, religion, conviction, opinion, health, disability or other reason”. Everyone should respect other people’s right to be who they are without direct or indirect discrimination, like intentionally ignoring them.

The Non-Discrimination Act gives a more detailed definition of discrimination. The treatment of a person less favourably than the way another person is treated, has been treated or would be treated in a comparable situation (direct discrimination), an apparently neutral provision, criterion or practice that puts a person at a particular disadvantage compared with other persons (indirect discrimination) as well as an instruction or order to discriminate are all counted as discrimination. In addition, according to law harassment is a form of discrimination.

According to law, sexual harassment denotes to verbal, non-verbal, physical, unwanted sexual behaviour, that deliberately or actually aims to violate a person’s mental or physical integrity, in particular by creating a threatening, hostile, demeaning, degrading or oppressive atmosphere. Gender-based harassment refers to unwanted behaviour that is based on the gender, but not sexual in nature, that aims to deliberately and actually violate a person’s mental or physical integrity and aims to create a threatening, hostile, demeaning, degrading or oppressive atmosphere. Harassment is not easy to define unambiguously, but trusting your own instincts is always a good idea. If another person’s behaviour feels like harassment, it is harassment.

If you feel you have been harassed by another student, professor or another member of the University staff, you can contact Tamy’s anti-harassment contact persons privately, who can help you with any harassment situation.

Regain the right to study and prove suitability to a chosen field of study. (Universities Act, section 37 a-b, section 43 a-d, section 45, section 45 a, Students’ Legal Protection Board Act, section 1-14)

The University Board has to guarantee a student the right to be heard, if their right to study is going to be revoked. In addition, the board has to write a report on the student’s situation before the board can make a decision.

A student can lose their right to study, if, for example, they haven’t registered as present/absent at the beginning of the term, or if they haven’t completed studies on time, or if they haven’t completed studies after getting an extension to finish a degree. A student can apply for their right to study to be reinstated by contacting the University’s Study Services or, depending on the situation, the Dean of the Faculty by using this form on the University website. The website also contains additional information on regaining a right to study.

If a student has lost their right to study due to unsuitability to their chosen field, they can ask for a revision by proving that the reason for losing right to study no longer exists. The student must provide the University with statements pertaining to their health. The University Board decides whether a student’s right to study should be reinstated.

If there is any doubt that a student isn’t suited for their chosen field, the University is obligated to work out, together with the student, their chances of applying for different education. Upon the student’s permission, the student can be transferred to study another field within the University, whose conditions for becoming a student the student in question fulfils.

A student can apply for revision for the loss of right to study or on the decision reinstating that right within 14 days of receiving said decision from the Students’ Legal Protection Board.

If your suitability to your chosen field of study is suspected, contact Tamy’s Specialist in Academic Affairs immediately and directly.

Receive credits for positions of trust. (Rector’s Decision D1317/301.06/2011)

You can receive a maximum of 10 credits for your positions of trust within the University or the Student Union, in exchange for a report. Instructions for writing the report can be found in the curriculum of each degree programme. The credits can be accepted through substitution or inclusion within a year after the time spent in a position of trust has ended.

For more information, ask your Faculty’s Head of Study Affairs.

Examples of tasks you may receive credits from (3 credits per list item):

  1. a) At least one academic year in a multi-member administrative organ of the University (University Collegiate Body, University Board, Board of Appeals and the Faculty Council) defined in the Universities Act or the University Regulations.
  2. b) At least one academic year in an advisory council of an independent institute, the University’s Student Financial Aid Board, or a curricula planning group of a faculty or a degree programme
  3. c) At least one academic year in the board of a subject association.
  4. d) At least one academic year in a position of trust within the Student Union (as a member of the Council of Representatives or the Executive Board, or as a chair of a section or a committee)

Students have the right to nominate representatives for themselves in study-related working groups. This enables the students to participate in preparation and decision phases of decision-making.

A preparatory working group working within a faculty is to request student representation from a subject association or a faculty association. A preparatory working group with relevance to the entire University is to request student representation from the Student Union.

Student representatives must be called to participate in the working group immediately after its establishment, and the convener of the working group must brief appropriately.

Study in a safe environment. (The Universities Act of Finland, section 41; the Health Care Act, section 17).

According to the Universities Act, the students must have a right to a safe learning environment. The University can adopt regulations to guarantee this safety. According to the Health Care Act, student health care must also include the monitoring of the health and safety in educational institutions, and the monitoring of the welfare of the learning communities. This means that the University and the FSHS together are responsible not only for making sure that the learning environment is physically functional, but also for the community and for the promotion of welfare. To address any issues you might encounter, contact the Student Union.

To have the possible prior learning included or substituted into the degree. (the Universities Act of Finland, section 44; UTA’s General Regulations on Degrees, section 25).

The Universities Act permits the University to transfer credits from studies completed at another Finnish or foreign institution of higher education or other educational institution, or to substitute completed studies which are at the same level as the studies required for the degree. According to the policy of the University of Tampere, if a student has completed studies on language, communications, or methodology which are equal in content with the courses offered at the University of Tampere, the student can apply to have their credits transferred into their degree.

In addition, in many different fields of study have their own separate practices on recognition of prior learning (RPL). Depending on the field of study, it might be possible to substitute courses with work experience or an internship. According to the University’s General Regulations on Degrees, a student cannot substitute a thesis. Knowledge and learning which has been previously acquired should always be reviewed when the student is drafting their personal study plan (HOPS). However, the RPL-process can be initiated later as well by learning about the specific practices in your Faculty.

A student is responsible for:

Giving feedback on teaching and guidance.

In order to make developing teaching and guidance possible, the students have a responsibility to give feedback on them. Feedback is collected for each course and it is used especially in the curriculum compilation working groups, which all contain at least one student representative. The University of Tampere teaching council has given instructions on gathering feedback (in Finnish) which is the framework within which the faculties operate. The universities gather feedback also through the Bachelor’s Graduate Survey (The survey form is available in English here), which is designed for all students who have graduated from a bachelor degree programme. The feedback is used to find out how fluently the studies work and whether the students are satisfied with their University. From 2015 onwards the feedback results will affect the division of the university core funding.

In addition, the basic degree students are presented with annual student surveys that are used to find out how the studies are progressing and what problems there are.

Compiling a Personal Study Plan (HOPS) according to the instructions and guidance and progressing their studies accordingly. (University of Tampere’s General Regulations on Degrees section 22)

Each University of Tampere student must compile a written plan for the advancement and completion of their studies. In the HOPS each student describes the progression of their studies and the scheduling of the necessary study attainments. The HOPS is based on the degree structure, the curriculum and the student’s personal goals. The student should take into consideration the master degree programme and its required studies, exchange studies and/or practical training scheduling and credit transfer from previously completed studies when compiling the study plan. Students can ask their own HOPS-teacher for help in compiling and updating their study plan.

Not discriminating or bothering anyone and taking others into consideration when studying. (Universities Act, the University’s Equal Opportunities Plan, Tamy’s Equality Plan)

According to section 4 of the University legislation, the university community consists of the university teaching and research staff, other staff and students. All members of the university community are responsible for the communality and parity of the university. It is important that everyone acts in a way that promotes parity and report any violations of it through the appropriate channels.

The University’s Equal Opportunities Plan defines the goals regarding teaching and studying. All students should familiarize themselves with them.

All extracurricular activity also affects the university community. Students have a responsibility to act in a way that promotes parity and not to discriminate anyone also in student organizations, tutoring and in everyday interaction with their student peers. Tamy’s Equality Plan defines goals regarding students and organizations.

Other students and staff should also be taken into consideration in concrete everyday matters, for instance by reserving study materials and rooms only for the periods of time when they are actually used.

Registering for general examinations seven days before the exam. (Regulations on the Assessment of Studies sections 18-19)

Students must register for exams seven days before the exam unless the curriculum states otherwise or some other arrangement has been made with the teacher.

During the summer, registration might be required earlier. The faculties will usually accept registration via NettiOpsu/NettiRekka, but some faculties still use envelope exams. Students must register for electronic examinations in the electronic service. Registration to them is available whenever the course unit exam in question is available to be reserved. If the student does not show up at the exam without prior notice or if they give up twice on an exam of the same course unit, they have the responsibility to contact the teacher in charge the next time they register. Exams on lectures usually do not require a separate registration unless the teacher in charge of the course instructs otherwise.

Taking exams in the University of Tampere

Registering for courses that allow only a limited amount of participants. (General Regulations on Degrees section 23)

The course registration is usually done in NettiOpsu. If the student does not have a basic user account, they must register as instructed by their faculty, usually by submitting a written registration to the course teacher. The courses do not require a registration beforehand if the amount of participants has not been limited. If the amount of allowed participants is limited, it will be mentioned in the teaching schedules.

Cancelling registration in time for courses they cannot participate in. (General Regulations on Degrees  section 23)

It is important that students make sure to cancel their registration if they for some reason choose not to complete the intended course. This way their spot can be given to another student. If the student chosen for the course does not participate, they must cancel their registration before the course begins, no later than the date given, so that another student can take their place.

Returning study attainments in time. (Teaching council policy)

Adhering to set schedules gives the impression that one values the time of others as much as their own. Whether you are working in a group or by yourself, it is respectful towards others to plan your schedule in such a way that you can return the work in time. If there is a significant obstacle, you can contact the teacher in charge of the course and ask for more time.

Finding out what has been done on courses after having been absent. (Teaching council policy)

If the student cannot participate on a course lecture, they have the responsibility to contact the person in charge of the course or their fellow students to find out what has been done on the course during their absence.

Enrolling to the academic terms within the set enrolment period. (General Regulations on Degrees  section 13)

A student who does not enrol as either present or absent before the start of each academic term loses their right to study. Although the lost right to study can in some cases be reinstated (see student rights), students should make sure that they enrol within the set enrolment period. This will save a lot of unnecessary trouble. The enrolment period is usually from the beginning of June to the end of August for old students and from the middle of July to the end of August for new students.

Applying for an extension in case of not graduating within the allotted time. (University legislation section 42)

Applying for an extension to your right to study can be done by presenting a plan for completion of studies to your faculty. The plan contains an account on the missing studies and a schedule for completing them. If the extension is not applied for by the end of the target time for the completion of the degree, the student can lose their right to study. Students whose right to complete their degree ends at the end of July must apply for an extension by the middle of April at the latest. Students whose right to complete their degree ends at the end of December must apply for an extension by the middle of October at the latest.

The following types of absence do not count towards the time of completion of a degree: conscription or voluntary military service, maternity, paternity or parental leave. Absences other than these in excess of 4 terms will reduce the time available for completion of the degree.

The University must take into considerations the student’s life situation in the decision-making process. If the studies can be completed within a reasonable amount of time, the student’s right to study will be extended.

University guideline

Adhering to a good scientific practice in studies. (University of Tampere’s Regulations on the Assessment of Studies, the Principal’s decision 5.12.2013)

Each member of the university community must act in a just manner and respect the work and results of others. The students have the responsibility to ensure the validity of their actions from the guidelines provided by the University or by consulting the University staff. Alleged violations are handled according to the principal’s decision.

Responsible conduct of research and procedures for handling allegations of misconduct in Finland

Adhering to the university information security rules.

The Student’s Information Security Guide gives instructions and introduces the legislation regarding University information security. Each member of the university community, including the students, have a responsibility to ensure information security. For more information, contact the IT Help Desk.

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