Student Union of the University of Helsinki


December 8, 2021

The Student Union of the University of Helsinki (HYY, Swedish Studentkåren vid Helsingfors universitet, HUS) includes all students who have completed a bachelor's or master's degree at the University of Helsinki. The Student Union may also accept other university students as members. Today, the Student Union of the University of Helsinki has about 30,000 members.


The Student Union was originally created as a co-operation body for the associations. It was formally established in 1868 when Emperor Alexander II issued a decree formalizing the general meetings of the students. Less than a thousand students were studying at the then Imperial Alexander University. The anniversary of the Student Union will be celebrated on November 26 to commemorate the inauguration of the Old Student House. The original name of the association was the Finnish Student Union, which was changed in 1928 to the Student Union of the University of Helsinki, when other multidisciplinary universities had already been established in Finland. Due to the (actual or feared) use of alcohol and riots by the students, a plot of land was sold to the student union outside the area of ​​the then Helsinki city center, ie Senate Square, next to the Espoo customs boom. On this plot at the corner of Heikinkatu (now Mannerheimintie) and Aleksanterinkatu, the current Old Student House was completed in 1870. The funds used to build it were acquired partly through a public fundraiser and largely in the form of long-term loans. The Association Hall was completed next door in 1910. The building was later renamed the New Student House. After the Second World War, the major construction project was the Domus Academica student dormitory built in 1947–1952 in Etu-Töölö. At the same time, a Kaivotalo owned by the student union on the Kaivokatu side was also built next to the Old and New Student Houses, which was later expanded into the current Kaivopiha shopping center in the early 1980s. The main activity of the student union was also its own library, which had been established as early as 1858 by merging the book collections of the associations. This Almänna studentbibliotek, or later Student Library, served as HYY's library until 1974, when its management was transferred to the university. The Student Union's own magazine Ylioppilaslehti began to appear in 1913. In 1953, the Student Union began to set up student canteens, which developed into the current UniCafe chain.


HYY is one of the most prosperous student unions in the world. This is because the areas that the city once sold to it “outside the city center” are now located right in the business center of Helsinki and are among the most expensive squares in the city. The Student Union conducts business through Ylva. Through its real estate economy, the Student Union owns the Old and New Student Houses and the commercial buildings surrounding Kaivopiha. In autumn 2007, Ylva's market capitalization was almost EUR 200 million.


The highest decision-making body of the Student Union is the 60-member Representative Council. The members of the Representative Council, ie the “editors”, are elected every two years in even-numbered elections by universal and relative suffrage, in which all members of HYY are entitled to vote. The Representative Council e.g. elects the Student Union 's Board of Directors, Secretary General and Presidium, and the Editor - in - Chief of Ylioppilaslehti. The Board exercises the general administrative and executive powers of the Student Union, and the Secretariat headed by the Secretary General takes care of the practical activities of the Student Union. The position of the Presidium is primarily formal, in keeping with the old saying, “The Chairman of HYY's Board of Directors does a dirty job, the Chairman of HYY respects his presence.” There were a total of 490 candidates in the election. The Student Union has an organization register with about 250 student organizations operating within HYY.

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