Aarhus BSS News from management

More funds for the well-being pool: How the money for improving student life is spent

This summer, Aarhus BSS received DKK 3.83 million extra for the pool of earmarked funding to revitalise student life following COVID-19. Directors of studies, student associations and classes may still submit applications. Here are four activities which have received earmarked funding – and an overview of the future of the pool.

Students walk through the University Park in autumn
Photo: Roar Lava Paaske

The Aarhus BSS pool to revitalise student life and well-being has already funded study trips, communal dining and other activities to promote student well-being. This summer, the school received an additional DKK 3.83 million.

The money came from the pool of DKK 12.3 million allocated to Aarhus University by the Danish government to target student well-being, academically as well as socially. In total, the government has set aside DKK 95 million for revitalising student life at Danish institutions of higher education following the COVID-19 pandemic.

Due to the university’s aim to distribute the vast majority of funds to the faculties, part of this extra funding thus went in the Aarhus BSS well-being pool. The money is spent on strengthening the academic and social communities across degree programmes at Aarhus BSS in continuation of the initiative to revitalise student life from spring 2021. A large number of activities have already received funding – and it is still possible to submit an application.

Four different activities that have received funding

Student association fair at the Department of Psychology and Behavioural Sciences
At the Department of Psychology and Behavioural Sciences, funds were granted for organising a fair involving all the associations in the local study environment. The aim of the fair was to create a day permeated by a sense of community, academically as well as socially – and to promote all the associations which had been on hold during lockdown. Each association had a stand where they held competitions, informed about their work and advertised meetings and events. In addition, there were joint activities throughout the day, organised by the various associations in unison.

Revitalising student life at IT, Communication and Organisation
Students in the 2020 year group on the Master’s degree programme in IT, Communication and Organisation applied for funding to revitalise their student life with teambuilding. On the day in question, the students performed different teambuilding activities facilitated by a company specialising in teambuilding and customised to fit the degree programme as well as the target group of students. After completing the programme for the day, there was a communal meal for all participants.

Christmas get-together and volleyball tournament at Public Policy
On the Bachelor’s degree programme in Public Policy, students organised a joint event with funding from the well-being pool. The aim was to strengthen social bonds across year groups – bonds which the students described as unique and characteristic of their degree programme. The event consisted of a volleyball tournament in which the students were divided into mixed teams across different year groups. To attract students without interest in volleyball and increase the likelihood that as many students as possible would want to participate, the tournament was combined with a Christmas get-together.

Communal meal for a class of law students
A class of 20 students from the Department of Law applied for funding for a communal meal prior to a social event on their degree programme. The purpose of the meal was to bring the entire class together and strengthen social bonds. The meal was held prior to the social event in the hope that as many students as possible would attend the following event. At the same time, the idea was that no one would feel compelled to stay at home because they did not have anybody to go to the event with.

Both local and cross-departmental activities promote well-being

It is not easy to revitalise student life during a short period of time, however. Students call for patience in an appeal to the Danish government, and many student associations need to regain their footing before being fully ready to benefit from the money.

According to acting vice-dean for education, Morten Rask, a certain span is important: "Student life at Aarhus BSS has many aspects. For this reason, we must have well-defined local activities suggested by the students themselves as well as joint activities across the school.”

Well-being coordinator at Aarhus BSS Niki Rasmussen adds:

"We have already granted money for a long list of activities both academic and social in nature, and it is wonderful to see the students’ ideas for rebuilding communities. But it is also clear that particularly student associations are still reeling, seeing as they missed out on recruiting new members from the 2020 generation. For this reason, we also work to complement association initiatives by organising workshops and talks across the school. Such events can be organised centrally and bring many students together at the same time.”

Many conducive paths to the well-being pool

It is still possible to apply for funding from the pool. Both student associations and individual classes of students can submit an application. The same is true for the directors of studies at the departments.

One such director of studies who has applied for funding is associate professor Mimi Yung Mehlsen from the Department of Psychology and Behavioural Sciences.

"We applied for money for a freshers’ event and a weekend trip for our third-semester students because we wanted to give them the opportunity to build a sense of social community among their year group. The money was approved in September. We hope this will strengthen their sense of belonging on their degree programme, and so far, it looks promising. Not only have they become familiar with other psychology students, the slightly overlooked COVID-19 year group has taken responsibility for the events and is actively participating in revitalising the social aspects of student life,” Mimi Yung Mehlsen recounts.

Niki Rasmussen stresses: "We assess all applications based on their aim and their specific arguments for how the activity will support academic and social well-being for the students in question. We approve about nine out of every ten applications, and in general, the different suggestions are of a high quality. The approved activities are very different – it depends on what is conducive to and can create value for a particular group of students.”

Applications for the well-being pool are processed on an ongoing basis, and the deadline is 14 December – with the option to hold activities in the first quarter of 2022. Everyone is encouraged to continue to think in terms of relevant events and activities.

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