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Academic Freedom: a boon or a bane?

Arriving in Finland as an international student, I knew there are countless adventures awaiting me both on and off the university campus. Yet, struggling with all the autonomy I was given all of a sudden was not among the expected ones. ‘Academic Freedom’ as a concept has been predominantly taken as an absolute positive feature of universities, or education in general, in Finland but it was not this straightforward for me. Now, after almost completing my studies, I have come to the realization that academic freedom is rather a craft that should be mastered, but how?


      First, we should take a closer look into what actually academic freedom refers to. This concept can be distinctively manifested for every single individual’s mind considering his/her background and experiences. The education system, at JYU at least, is extremely student-centered which means students are responsible for a majority, if not all, their studies. It means from complications of administrative issue like enrolling for different courses to creating your study plan which aligns with your career aspirations are considered basic and obvious tasks of students. Here at JYU, you are literally in total control of your studies, and of course with such power comes a lot of responsibilities. I come from a rigid form of education system where every decision is made for you and all you have to do is to attend your classes, by the way, same class and same time every week, quietly learn from the gospel truth that is presented by the professors and sit the final exams. The academic culture shock is not a surprise when a student used to such systems find him/herself in the Finnish education system.

     
      Having mentioned these point, I have to confess this system can assist you in your personal betterment once you crack the code of how to utilize it in your benefit. The path I went through was to reach out for plenty of available support at our university. Having all these capabilities and accountabilities do not translate to being completely on your own. As a matter of fact, one of the activities you are encouraged to do in this system is to take a step forward and ask for help whenever needed. There is a degree secretary who is available to address your issues with administration, program coordinators with whom students have individual and group consultant session about every single detail of their academics and probably the most encouraged and important one, your friends and classmates. Moreover, my classmates, and my closer friends to be precise, and I formed an organic support web for one another where we helped each other from basic activities like reminding not to miss a deadline for enrolling in a course to a consultant on which course would make a better sense with regards to our future plans. My tip would be not to miss this wonderful opportunity to test the limits of this freedom like negotiation an alternative way of demonstrating your learning for a course with your teacher or taking entrepreneurship courses while majoring in biology. Always ask for help and support from your friends, classmates, teachers and university staff.

      In conclusion, it has been quite a journey to figure out the mechanics of academic freedom while enjoying the wings it gave me to fly in the sky of creativity within the framework of my university. All it takes is a little sense of adventure!

Faraz Roshanizand

Academic Freedom: a boon or a bane? Academic Freedom: a boon or a bane? Reviewed by ambassadors on 09:53 Rating: 5

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