Early Education Joins University
The University of Helsinki may soon boast its first academic early education teacher graduate, as future teachers of children 0-6 years old saw their department enter the University curriculum in August. As a result of the change, students of the subject will now graduate with the Finnish equivalent of a B.A. in Educational Science. Although the number of credits required hasn’t changed with the move, the degree requirements have.
Study Secretary Kaisa Kopisto explains, ”The greatest change is the increase in pedagogy course credits from 15 to 35. This means more common lecturers with future comprehensive and high school teachers. At the same time, students will receive a stronger theoretical foundation.”
Second year students of early education Hanne Henttula and Tuija Kaukinen have both been switched automatically to the new University system. Although both agree that receiving a University degree is a terrific opportunity, they are confused about the move. The University remains the great unknown to most early education students. ”Perhaps we’ll receive some information about the changes if we go to the information sessions that have been arranged for first year students,” they comment.
Because the Nilsiänkatu location is still being renovated, students and staff have started their year in cramped premises. Dean Veijo Meisalo tells of the confusion, ”Because of the move, we weren’t able to arrange everything as well as we had hoped in time. This is true both in terms of space and positions. Although the fusion didn’t include any kind of financial cutbacks, we have had to eliminate some old positions in order to make room for new ones.” Meisalo hopes that students will eventually adjust, ”We hope that all of our students will soon genuinely feel themselves a part of the university community.”
Street Name To Change
On Friday, September 8, Rector Risto Ihamuotila and Mayor Kari Rahkamo will officially rename the street formerly known as Hallituskatu to Yliopistokatu. The two will nail the first street sign into place at the corner of Fabianinkatu and Unioninkatu at 10 a.m. At the same time, the University is presenting the new Kaisaniemi metro station with a scale model of the university downtown area. The street address of the University Main Library will then change to Yliopistokatu 1 and Porthania will located at Yliopistokatu 3.
Veterinary Sciences Feel the Crunch
In August, the University of Veterinary Sciences became a faculty of the University of Helsinki, after having functioned for years as an independent institution. The fusion was forced on by the state: useless bureaucracy needed to be cut and millions of marks needed to be saved. Staff and students of Veterinary Sciences aren’t excited about the change, but after nearly being forcibly transferred to Kuopio, they are glad to have won the fight to stay in the Helsinki area.
The years ahead will be difficult. Of a roughly 40 million mark annual budget, two million need to be saved this year and another four before the year 1998. Faculty Secretary Raija-Liisa Aalto reports that this years savings have been arranged without any staff losing their jobs or major changes to instruction or student life. She notes the positive effects of the
fusion, ”As far as research and post-graduate instruction is concerned, joining the University has been a good thing. Students have more study opportunities.” The other side of the coin is a larger administration, ”The advantage of being a small unit was that matters could be handled with only a few phone calls. The University administration is a complex system, which means more bureaucracy.”
New Fines for Services
The University of Helsinki will begin charging fines for certain services this fall, after a decision by the Ministry of Education to that effect. Register for the university this year after September 15th and you will be fined 100 FIM. If you lose your opintokirja, the blue book in which your classes are marked, be ready to pay 50 marks for a new one. Any course information that may have had in the one you lost will have to be collected by you once again. As for a copy of the registrar’s list of the classes you have completed, if you pick it up personally, it will cost 15 FIM. A TELE number (9600-1577) has also been established, with which you can call at 10,90 per minute and order a copy which will be sent to your home address. The only way to get a free copy of your class list is through the University’s electronic mail system.
Survey Yields Dismal Results
This past April, the Helsinki Student Union (HYY) distributed a questionnaire to every fourth University of Helsinki student that began their studies in 1992. Sixty percent of recipients responded, indicating the importance of the subject: study aid. The majority of students that answered are forced to supplement their insufficient study aid award of 1,540 FIM a month with part-time work or parental assistance. Of the future doctors answering the survey, only 60% felt they could possibly graduate in the 55 month study aid limit. Of all respondants, 26% doubted they would complete their studies in that period of time.
Savings decision by the current government cut this year’s study aid award by 30-120 FIM. Housing assistance now covers only 67% of the rent, compared with the previous 75%. The average amount of study aid that students themselves deemed appropriate was 2,000 FIM. More results of the survey will be presented at a press conference to be held in the Aurora Hall of the New Student House at Mannerheimintie 5B on September 12th at 10 a.m.
A Future Increase in Eco Crimes?
Headline news this summer in Finland was the attack on a northern fox farm by young, urban `eco-terrorists’. In Finnish Lapland, environmental activists forced their way into a fish farm. Both events received a lot of publicity, although not necessarily support or understanding. Despite this, few would dare to call the activists out and out criminals.
Jukka Kekkonen, a professor of law from the University of Helsinki, believes that this kind of Greenpeace-type, intelligent, direct action, which plays on publicity and people’s morals, may become the typical crime of the coming century. ”More and more people may feel the need to repair individual societal defects with these kind of strikes.”
He continues, ”Crimes that are labeled political still have many differences of degree and quality. It could simply be a case of civil disobedience and may be perfectly legitimate. The reaction of the officials is what determines whether it is a crime or not.” As time goes on, Kekkonen feels that both the media and the law could better learn to understand the actions of environmental activists that act under generally accepted motives.
New Reporters Join Staff
The staff of the Ylioppilaslehti has changed along with the beginning of the new academic year. Mr Miska Rantanen and Ms Miira Lähteenmäki will join the team as new reporters. Rantanen studies political history in Helsinki and has contributed regularly to the Ylioppilaslehti, as well as to the cultural division of the Helsingin Sanomat, the Nurmijärven Sanomat and the Yliopisto magazine. Lähteenmäki studies communications theory at the University of Tampere. She has earlier reporting experience for the domestic section of the Helsingin Sanomat, local papers and the Karjalan Sanomat.
Theater director and parliamentary representative Irina Krohn, TV producer Roope Lehtinen and writer Leena Lehtolainen will replace Ulla Anttila, Anu Kantola and Mikko Majander as weekly columnists.
Women’s Studies Professor Encourages Critique
Aili Nenola, the newest member of the women’s studies department, has her roots in cultural studies. At her former position at the University of Turku, she handled not only the women’s studies program, but also folklore and religious studies. Her decision to apply to Helsinki was the result of her need to concentrate on women’s studies alone, ”I had studied three different subjects, but I began to feel as if I needed to concentrate on the research and teaching that personally interested me the most at this point in my life.”
A kind of taboo has come to surround women’s studies, discouraging any kind of criticism. Nenola admits a lack of discourse in the field. ”It can be that there isn’t enough critical discussion in women’s studies. Some women researchers are quite strict about who can participate and who can’t. I feel this is typical in a new and rising field with only a few specialists.” She adds that the fault is not only within the field, however. Many people’s understanding of women’s studies comes through the media. ”A much better approach would be to pick up a study exemplary of women’s studies and read it. I believe that there will be more discussion in the future, but our critics have to know what we are saying first.”
Translation: Pamela Kaskinen