In November, Akseli Tiitta from the Student Union of the University of Turku (TYY) was elected President of the National Union of University Students in Finland (SYL) for 2024. This year, Akseli was the chair of the TYY Board. What made Akseli interested in student activities, and what are her thoughts on the coming year? Read more about next year’s president!
Hello! I’m Akseli Tiitta, a 23-year-old economics and information technology student. What has always interested me the most in economics is public-sector finance and fixing the big problems in our society. I have long dreamed of a career in the Ministry of Finance, for example. But we’ll see where life takes me! In my spare time, I do a lot of sports, play as a DJ in nightclubs, and read. I’m originally from Littoinen, and I love Turku. However, I have been looking forward to moving to Helsinki for some time!
How did you get interested in student activities?
During my first year at university in 2019, I was immediately elected as a deputy member in the representative council. After that, I had friends on the Board of the Student Union of the University of Turku (TYY) for a few years in a row, and I knew I wanted to run for the Board myself one day. My moment arrived after I finished my Bachelor’s thesis, and I was elected to the TYY Board in 2022 as Vice Chair, with a focus on social policy.
My enthusiasm for student advocacy surged during my time on the TYY Board as I gained a view of the student union’s diverse activities and opportunities. I was put in charge of the planning and implementation of the strategy process, and I was completely hooked. I became particularly interested in how to develop organisations and their capabilities.
I love leading a team and steering the organisation towards its goals. In the coming year, I expect to be learning new things and tapping into the skills I’ve accumulated over the years. It’s a great honour to serve as President of SYL next year. I look forward to seeing what the year will bring.
What do you see as the biggest problems that higher education students currently face?
The funding gap in higher education, difficulties in making ends meet, and a mental health crisis. That’s a combination that will not raise the level of education in Finland. It is worrying that the basic conditions of student life are not in order. The people that are our hope for the future cannot be allowed to burn out, and everyone in Finland should understand this.
What kinds of matters do you want to promote as SYL’s president for 2024?
SYL’s mission is to promote a better future for students. No stone should be left unturned to improve the position of students. However, we need to keep a clear balance between idealism and realism in our advocacy in order to achieve our goals. Next year’s action plan is full of important projects, and they must be implemented with care. No opportunity to make a difference should be missed. The political landscape is challenging from the point of view of students, which is why we need to build trust with decision-makers and make a more convincing case for our goals.
Working together is key next year. The student movement in Finland is strong when united, and leading it requires listening to the needs and wishes of each actor. This means active dialogue and facilitation of opportunities for advocacy.
I also want to look beyond next year: We must start thinking about SYL’s strategy, because we need to be able to achieve our goals in a changing world and challenging political situations.
Read more about SYL’s board for next year: The SYL Board for 2024 has been elected.
SYL’s President 2024
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