Essi Lumme: It is worth acknowledging higher education students in the municipal decision-making

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During our studies, we try to find ways to expand our cross-disciplinary networks before hitting the workforce. We all create several new friendships during our studies. Too often these encounters and this networking takes place at different kinds of parties. It would be fantastic if we could increase the role that sports play in networking and maintaining friendships.

The easiest solution are the municipal sports facilities and opportunities, as well as outdoor sports facilities built close to the higher education institutions. If we can improve the opportunities to exercise aimed at students, then they can be a great way for more students to exercise with others. What would be a better way to spend time with your friends and meet new people than while exercising?

This requires higher education students to be acknowledged as a user group in sports. Student discounts are one way of improving students’ opportunities to exercise when the threshold to start exercising is lowered and the affordable municipal services become a real option for doing sports. When using the municipal services, students can also exercise with a friend who has already graduated or who they met at their summer job. The shared exercise can turn into a routine which continues after the studies.

Meanwhile joint sessions for students can create a sense of community. If all the students in the area, regardless of their higher education institution, can take part, then the networking becomes even more cross-disciplinary. As well as students at local universities and universities of applied sciences, it is also a good idea to give people from other towns who happen to live locally access to the services.

It is important to remember that supporting student sports is not only an investment in terms of healthy years at work. By promoting exercise we are also supporting the creation of higher education students’ professional networks and mental health during their studies. Through sports, the municipality can support higher education students’ wellbeing in a holistic way.

Essi Lumme

The author is the Vice President of OLL.

Essi Lumme, photo by Aro Keipi

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