The Alumni Association is a vibrant and growing community, a recognized strategic partner of the University of Helsinki, and an important part of the university family. The Association offers their members a possibility to find old as well as new friends and the chance to participate in and influence university life.

Alumni are those who have been granted the right to study at the University of Helsinki, researchers and those who have worked for the university. Having graduated is not required to be an alumnus or alumna; even students and staff are alumni.

The Association arranges interesting events and supports the university by, for example, passing on the knowledge and work experience of alumni to the university. The university supports students by handing out grants from the Alumni Association and through offering mentoring services for students. The Alumni Association aids the university's fundraising.

The Alumni Association provides their members with benefits and discounts that are conveniently collected in a free phone app, as well as in our member letter.

Beyond this we organize around 50 events a year exclusively for alumni, as well as the traditional Alumni Celebration where the Alumnus or Alumna of the year is elected. 

The Alumni Association is a significant Finnish and international force in terms of its size and activity. Its membership exceeds the number of residents in most Finnish municipalities – more than 7,000. We would need a facility the size of five major concert halls or three large cruise ships to fit all our members in one place at the same time. Together we are an academic community that highlights the significance of research and academic education throughout Finnish society.

When reading this newsletter, you will soon discover that the Alumni Association’s persistent efforts for the benefit of students and the University are paying off. Every single member can feel proud of having supported students and the University through his or her membership fee. The Association engages members in projects that support the University’s strategic objectives. We have agreed with faculties, strategic sectors and the University’s senior management on focus areas for the academic volunteer work of alumni. The Association also undertakes long-term projects. For example, an application drawn up within the Alumni Association led to the tradition of Master’s conferment ceremonies being added to the Finnish list of intangible cultural heritage in recognition of the significance and unique nature of the tradition. The list is associated with UNESCO’s Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage. The conferment of Master’s degrees is a unique Finnish tradition, which has continued uninterrupted at the University of Helsinki since the 1640s. The Association members belonging to the Promootion ystävät (“Conferment friends”) group drew up the application.

This year, we will focus on the University’s strategic objective of placing the focus on students. The Association will contribute to this goal by supporting the employment of students and the development of their career skills through various projects. One of the projects, the Alumni Ambassador programme, allows dozens of alumni to help hundreds of students regardless of time and place. The project activities are based on the successful model used at Harvard University, which has been applied to the circumstances at the University of Helsinki. This is not the first time that inter-university cooperation has proved its value: the Alumni Association looked to leading British and American universities when it was established in 1990.

It goes to show that there is no need to reinvent the wheel in alumni activities.

The Association also endeavours to help students succeed in the international job market and spread the word about the University of Helsinki. The local clubs established around the world have quickly proved effective in these efforts. We owe a great deal of thanks to the active alumni who have taken it upon themselves to coordinate the clubs. We could not have done it from Helsinki.

The reform of the member register later this year will also require much work. But it is necessary in order to bring our activities in line with the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation, which will take effect in the spring. The new regulation is a positive development, and we aim to promptly comply with its spirit of openness and accessibility, while guaranteeing the absolute security of our members’ data including its responsible use in our communications. The register data must be comprehensive and up-to-date to allow us to effectively target our communications (e.g., when inviting all who graduated 30 years ago to an annual celebration or contacting all theology graduates interested in environmental protection and living in Espoo).

In addition to focusing on specific areas, the Association will also ensure that all alumni – whether or not they can participate in our activities – feel that their membership is meaningful. Our member programme will remain diverse, and we will continue to communicate effectively. Read more about the benefits available to members and be sure to use them.

You are warmly welcome to attend the Association’s events. You can also bring along a friend who is not a member. Our feedback suggests that you will enjoy yourselves. Drop by at least once – curiosity is a key virtue of alumni! To conclude, I would like to thank the hundreds of alumni who have participated in our academic volunteer work this or last year by, for example, holding lectures, participating in work groups, helping with mail-outs and bringing together alumni from various fields. Thank you on behalf of all us members!

Pia Österman
Executive Manager of the Alumni Association

The new EU General Data Protection Regulation, taking effect in May 2018, is one of the most important amendments to international legislation related to data protection in recent decades. Its purpose is to improve the rights of individuals to manage and handle their personal data, as well as to harmonise legislation within the European Union. Another purpose for the change is to update the regulations concerned with data protection in order to keep up with the development of technology and challenges posed by data protection in connection with globalisation.

The Alumni Association has developed a new data protection statement and made sure, that the data management agreements that the new data protection regulation requires, are in place with the service providers we use that process personal data in their services. The Association's data protection statement and register description include information about the purpose of the register, the data collected and the duration of data storage.

 

The member letter will give you an overview of what activities the Alumni Association is planning this year, and it will keep you updated on news regarding the University of Helsinki and its alumni community. Find out what we offer our international alumni abroad and in Helsinki, and read more about our growing community, our membership benefits, volunteering opportunities, and our new Alumni Ambassador program!