The first Math&OR committee meeting of the year was held on Tuesday 24th of January. All members were present so the meeting had quorum. Here is a summary of the topics discussed in the meeting.
Balancing of MSc theses supervision load
Currently, the workload of thesis supervisors is unevenly distributed. Some supervisors are overworked while others receive few supervision requests from students. The committee suspects that this is caused by a lack of information for students as well as faults in the starting phase of the thesis process. When choosing a supervisor to contact, it is easy for a student to simply choose a professor that has taught courses related to the thesis topic at hand, instead of evaluating all potential supervisors.
To combat this issue, the department is working on an improved process for choosing a thesis supervisor. The new process could begin by contacting the professor in charge of the major. This professor could then help the student in choosing a supervisor based on the topic of the thesis, taking into account the workload of the supervisors. A face-to-face meeting could then be held with the potential supervisor to agree on the scope of the thesis. According to a mandate by the dean, lecturers can also act as thesis supervisors in the School of Science. This is probably not known to most students. The possible process improvement will be discussed further in the next committee meeting.
University language guidelines
An update to the Aalto University language guidelines is due this year. This sparked conversation in the committee and the topic was discussed extensively in the meeting. Varying opinions were expressed on the balancing of Finnish, English and Swedish in the undergraduate studies. The university has a legal responsibility to offer technical teaching in both Finnish and Swedish on the undergraduate level. However, it is clear that not all courses can be taught in three languages due to limited resources. The committee agreed that the current teaching language descriptions in the Aalto University language guidelines are not completely in accordance with reality. For example, the guidelines state that undergraduate studies should be possible to complete in predominantly Finnish or Swedish. In practice, however, TFM undergraduates usually complete a majority of their courses in English. This is not necessarily a problem, but the guidelines need to reflect this fact. The native language abstract of MSc theses was also discussed briefly. Overall, it was noted that the language issues are a university-wide issue and they will be addressed higher in the university hierarchy.
Other topics of discussion
Elective studies - The topic of elective studies was discussed briefly. The main takeaway from the discussion is that limiting or restricting elective studies is very difficult and not necessarily beneficial at all. Ideally, the School of Science would have unified conventions. This topic is being discussed in the general SCI committee(s). Thus, it does not currently warrant further actions…
Approving master’s thesis topics, languages and grades - All proposals were approved.
AllWell? questionnaire 2023 - The study well-being survey is open for second year bachelor’s and first year master’s students from 15 February to 1 March 2023. The students are emailed a personal link to the questionnaire.
TEK’s master’s thesis award proposals - The supervising professors will propose noteworthy theses for TEK’s awards.
The next Math&OR committee meeting is on Tuesday 21st of March. Thanks for reading!
Best regards, Perttu