In March, students – members and non-members – were invited to answer the survey Student opinions. The questions were about student involvement and what is known about the Linnaeus Union. Now we are ready to share the result!
The survey had 82 respondents, most studied in Kalmar or Växjö. Most had studied at LNU 2-3 semesters, and the majority were members.
Our work within social matters was the main reason for being a member. We are happy to hear it, and we are proud of our accomplishments despite the pandemic. That we monitor education and students have the possibility to get educational support were also reasons for being a member, as well as accessing discounts, student pubs and events.
Respondents appreciated that it is easy to reach us, that we are good at providing relevant information, and support if needed. That we represent students in different environments – at the university but also in the community is also a plus.
Several non-members stated that the reason for not being a member is the pandemic. However, many will buy membership again when things go back to normal. Several mentioned that cancelling the member coffee was a disappointment. We wish to underline that we are not satisfied either – the member coffee has been a very appreciated and relaxed meeting point. However, like any other work place we have had to guarantee safety for our members as well as for our board and staff. The dialogue with our members is very important to us so we also miss this and other possibilities to meet students.
The challenges we see are that some students believe that the Linnaeus Union handles resources differently for students in Kalmar and Växjö. Also, that integration is lacking, that students want more member benefits before buying membership and how we can improve our external communication to further reach out about what we do and offer. The best way to keep informed about us and what we do is to follow us on social media. Currently we mainly use Facebook and Instagram, but perhaps you would want us to level up our presence in other channels?
Our website is open to everyone, members receive our newsletter. All students are welcome to contact us with questions and feedback.
Regarding what we should offer besides what we already do, suggestions were lectures, trainings, Corona safe events, students’ mental health. A couple of students commented on the obvious differences in the student life in Kalmar and Växjö. We are keen on sharing our thoughts with you on this.
The variety of associations look different in Kalmar and Växjö, with about 10 student associations in Kalmar and almost 40 in Växjö. There is no aspiration to provide the same since conditions are different. However, a strong student involvement is necessary - in the student union as well as within the student associations/student life. Only then can the student life continue to develop and be beneficial to all students in Kalmar and Växjö.
In Kalmar, the number of members in the Linnaeus Union have decreased (for several years) which affects the influence that students Kalmar have over the Linnaeus Union. The best way to ensure a greater influence for students in Kalmar is that as many LNU students as possible buy membership in the Linnaeus Union and involve in the student life. This becomes even more important with the opening of the new student union meeting point Lék-stugan in mind. Besides this place several new student associations are starting up which makes the future look brighter.
In Växjö the student life is broad and more varied, and we at the Linnaeus Union are very proud to know that Växjö campus is famous for its great student life and opportunities. A variety of student associations on both campuses include more students who may want and have the possibility to try different types of student involvement during studies.
We also feel a need to clarify our role within the student life. Besides being main responsible for the introduction of new students our role is to coordinate and educate student associations. All student associations we cooperate with are each year invited to board trainings as well as trainings held to prepare the introduction. We host presidents’ meetings to share information but also to provide a meeting point for associations where they can share ideas and experiences. Naturally, students involved in the student life should have a close contact with the Linnaeus Union. Our role is also to support and push our association partners when needed.
A few students said that integration is not really working, and that international students are not well represented within the student associations. We are inclined to agree: We have not succeeded to attract enough Swedish students to the Buddy program, and associations have a job to do in terms of improving the promotion of themselves in English. We see a need to finding new ways to work on this issue and we will do so, and then suggest what we and student associations may develop.
Regarding getting involved in different types of student associations, involvement, education associations was the top choice, since students felt that is the best way to get to know others at the same faculty and/or program. The second top choice was the student union since the organization has a clear purpose and offers good possibilities to influence.
Unfortunately, around 18% of the respondents were not at all interested in the student life: either because it takes too much time or that there is nothing of interest. Full- or part time studies, family life or choice of residential location may be reasons for choosing to not get involved. Especially this year many limitations have complicated and negatively affected the student life.
Many respondents ask for better member benefits, and not only 5kr discount here and there. Our standing point is that we, prior to the pandemic, had many great offers, but of course there is always room for improvements. However, to provide additional value to our members, an open society without corona and a vaccine is needed. Until that can be achieved, we plan for great things. The pandemic has highly affected our business and operations. We have not been able to arrange welcome fairs, members coffee, pub nights or other fun stuff our members usually appreciate.
In March we opened our reception outdoors so that students could pick up new in Växjö-parcels, writing pads etc. “Walk with the board” was launched and much appreciated. Unfortunately, Kalmar and Växjö got tougher restrictions in May that ended any new initiatives.
During the pandemic we have had more time for our internal affairs. We have successfully implemented a re-branding to change the name of the organization to the Linnaeus Union (Linnékåren), we launched a competition among our members to make a new logo and website. We have also created new Core values and Fundamental opinions; we have upgraded the Buddy-program tool and updated our skills.
At the beginning of 2021 we changed our office location in Kalmar to house Stella within the university premises. In cooperation with Kalmarhem we renovated our facility at Smålandsgatan that student associations can rent.
An unusual year of activity is about to end. We look forward to 2021/22 with reassurance.