Master's Programme Committee for Mathematics and Operations Research 2/23


I hope that everyone had a wonderful Easter holiday. Here is a summary for you to catch up with the agenda of the Master’s Programme Committee for Mathematics and Operations meeting on the 21st of March.

Master’s theses

As usual, the meeting started by dealing with some routine issues; the proposed master’s theses topics and languages as well as appointment of thesis supervisors and advisors were approved. Also the proposed grades for master’s theses were approved without a further discussion this time.

Defining the target state of tuition fees at Aalto

LESG is having a workshop regarding the target state of tuition fees at Aalto in spring, and now they are gathering feedback on this issue from the academic staff. Hence, Anna Lampivuo joined the meeting in order to facilitate discussion and eventually forward committee’s feedback.

The law obliges universities to charge tuition fees from students arriving from outside the EU/EEA. The tuition fees at Aalto are 12,000 EUR / year in bachelor’s programmes and 15,000 EUR / year in master’s programmes. Currently there are 11 tuition fee liable students in the Master’s Programme in Mathematics and Operations Research. The funding raised via tuition fees is used to cover administrative and other programme related costs.

Few main points arose as a result of the discussion. First of all, an observation was made; students pay the tuition fee for the whole year, but teaching does not truly occur the whole year around. This might both motivate students to complete their studies before the start of the next academic year as well as possibly require some extra input especially from theses supervisors and advisors, as students would like to finish up their theses during the summer time. Another viewpoint to the issue of tuition fees was to consider whether the scholarships, which are closely related to tuition fees, could be used more in a way to create incentives for the students to complete their studies in time. In practice this could mean that a 50% scholarship is granted before studies, and if the student manages to finish up the studies within the target time, the scholarship could be retroactively increased to cover 100% of the tuition fees.

All in all, the committee agreed that the primary goal is to educate new professionals and enrich the Finnish student culture, no matter what the level of the tuition fees is. In other words, the volume of the foreign students is a secondary issue.

Schedule for curriculum development 2024-2026

The curriculum development starts during spring 2023, and like many other committees, the development process was discussed also in this meeting. One of the goals is to unify the development process across Aalto. In this light, it has to be kept in mind that a great number of students from different programmes take MS-xxxx courses, whereas students majoring in Mathematics and OR do not generally form similar pressure towards courses from other faculties.

It was also brought up that professors do not necessarily have sufficient privileges in MyCourses so as to examine the content of courses other than their own. This makes it hard for professors to e.g. evaluate which courses from other departments are suitable to be included as major studies in our program. Us student representatives were asked about planning of studies, and the feasibility of designing a study plan around the target timeframe of two years. It was agreed upon that while our majors are not very rigid with regards to pre-requisites or compulsory courses (which can hinder students in other programmes), the fact that many courses in the program are offered biannually means that certain study paths and specializations require one to be vigilant already before starting master’s level studies, possibly so that some courses are completed as part of bachelor’s level studies.

Other issues

  • Quotas and study options 2024: Quotas and study options 2024 are currently a part of university level discussion. The consensus in the meeting was that the committee would like to keep the quota of the Master’s Programme in Mathematics and Operations Research the same as before, that is, a quota of 20 students.
  • Academic advising: At the moment, academic advising (master’s level) is offered for students who apply to the programme in the external application round, and for students continuing from Bachelors, if they want so. Some professors complained that, while they are generally enthusiastic to offer academic advising, the current interface through which it is organized is so cumbersome that it discourages them from participating. They did wish to emphasize to students that if approached by e.g. e-mail, they would always be happy to meet with students for advisory purposes. It was also brought up how cumbersome software makes it less desirable to engage in academic advising in the first place.

Thanks for your time you took to read this summary!

Br, Tommi