As a student at Åbo Akademi University, you are automatically a member of The Student Union of ÅAU (ÅAS). As a member of the Student Union, you are entitled to comprehensive services, from political advocacy to tangible membership benefits. The Student Union has approximately 5000 members.
What is a student union?
There is a student union at every university in Finland. The main purpose of a student union is to advocate students’ interests. At Åbo Akademi University (ÅAU), this task belongs to the Student Union of ÅAU (ÅAS in short). The student unions’ position is stipulated in the Universities Act, and in order to be a significant organisation that the university listens to, the law also states that all students are automatically members of their student union.
The Student Union works closely with the university but is a completely independent organization. The role of The Student Union as a support for students can be compared to trade unions, that advocate for the interests of a specific professional group. Student unions in Finland are known for being professional interest organisations that work to make students’ daily lives as good as possible.
What does The Student Union do?
Advocates for your interests
The primary task of the student union is to ensure that you, as a student, have a good experience during your time of study, including matters related to studies, livelihood, health, well-being, housing, and opportunities for influence within your university. The Student Union has employees and a board consisting of regular students who work full-time for the benefit of Åbo Akademi students and associations. The board and staff work at the student union offices in Åbo and Vasa.
Nationally, all student unions cooperate through the National Union of University Students in Finland (Finnish abbreviation SYL) and lobby for things like increased study grants and enhanced funding for universities and student health services. Through SYL, students are also entitled to several national benefits. At Åbo Akademi, ÅAS works, among other things, on the development of education and support functions, and on ensuring that students’ opinions are heard and considered within the university.
The Student Union has student traditions that are an important part of student life at Åbo Akademi University for many. The most important ones include ÅAS’ Annual Ball, the sledging event on Shrove Tuesday, and the festivities on the eve of May Day (30 April).
The Student Union collaborates closely with student associations, provides them with financial support, and offers counselling and workshops. ÅAS has about 80 associations.
Owns two student union buildings
ÅAS also owns two student union buildings: Kåren in Åbo and Havtornen in Vasa. These buildings are for all Student Union members.
Kåren in Åbo is located at Tavastgatan 22. Here you can find the Student Union’s employees and Board members in Åbo. In Kåren, you will also find ÅAS’ service point, one of ÅAS’s own restaurants, meeting rooms, a sauna, and one of Campus Sports’ gyms.
Havtornen in Vasa is located by the water, close to Academill. In Havtornen, an employee and the student union board in Vasa work. Havtornen includes ÅAS service point, meeting rooms, a living room with a kitchen, a sauna, and a terrace.
Operates student lunch restaurants
ÅAS owns its own student restaurants. When you visit the student restaurants in Åbo, you also support your own Student Union.
You can get a lunch discount at all student restaurants in the country by showing your student card.
Offers affordable housing
The Student Union of ÅAU has its own student residence in Åbo: Tavasthem. Tavasthem is located next to Kåren at Tavastgatan 22. The apartments are primarily rented to ÅAS’ members, so as a student at Åbo Akademi University, you can apply for student housing.