As a result of the Korona pandemic, previously active student communities have changed dramatically due to the increase in distance education and restrictions on meeting. The number of credits and degrees in degree education has increased and the number of persons having completed less than 20 credits per year has decreased. Based on the key figures, things are in good shape, but as the corona pandemic prolongs, it is particularly important to pay attention to the well-being of students and to support it.
Since 2013, Karelia University of Applied Sciences has been using an early support model, the aim of which has been to reduce drop-outs and to actively support the smooth progress of studies. The three main elements of the operating model are information systems that support the monitoring of the progress of studies, the strengthening of a community culture and an atmosphere of mediation together with the student union POKA, and well-functioning and clearly defined study counselling practices.
– During the corona crisis, the importance of personal contacts in terms of the progress of studies and well-being in studying has become more important. In March 2021, Karelia contacted all degree students in person. The aim of the contact is to support the progress of studies, prevent social exclusion and offer and seek support for the challenges of study and life, says Vice Principal Pekka Auvinen.
The support services at Karelia UAS, such as the services of Student Wellfare Officer, have been transferred online. According to Auvinen, Karelia is currently engaged in the recruitment process of another student welfare officer. A person who is also qualified as a special education teacher is sought for the job. The need for special education teacher competence has grown clearly in recent years. In addition, Karelia enhances communication on online teaching rules, methods and tools that support interaction. Karelia and the student union POKA have together built new ways of establishing low-threshold contacts and strengthening communality. The development work takes into account the needs of international degree students and different cultural backgrounds