Brief in English


Picture Perfect Perfection

by Nina Korhonen

Perfectionism can come in different forms: for some it is connected with concrete tasks like cleaning or one’s appearance. For a person obsessed with cleanliness, everything in the apartment must be just so before leaving for work, where every paper has its own spot. Some beauty queens can’t even bring their dog for a walk without checking many times to see that their hair and make up is flawless. In addition to concrete action, perfectionism can also be connected with intellectual performance. Some students continually put off tests until they have thoroughly scoured all the material, or never finish their thesis because there is always room for improvement.
    Timo Niemi
, Director of Psychiatry at the Student Health Care Foundation (YTHS), describes the typical thought process of a perfectionist,”If you’re not perfect, you are insignificant.” Perfectionism is usually a question of poor self-confidence, when a sensitive, vulnerable person has developed certain traits. Psychiatrist Hely Kalska comments, ”No one comes in for treatment because they are perfectionists, but we often find these kind of experiences behind feelings of depression and anguish. Perfection may have been internalized already in the home. A person believes that they are loved only if they are without fault.”
    Perfectionism has been a part of Simo Ranta’s life since he first noticed that nothing was absolute. ”Even though I held a beautiful object in my hand, measured with high-tech techniques, I would notice that it was not quite the size they said it was.” For Simo, this lack of absolute became like an open wound. ”My perfection led me to live a life without stimuli. I lived within the constricts I had created.”
    Applying to the University was an immense project. He read the entrance exam material through eight times, making references and answering 30 practice essays. His first year of study continued in the same way: every word in his English text had to be familiar. Simo never competed with others, only himself. ”I was like a dog trying to bite his own tail.”
    These days, Simo has come to understand the realities of life. ”I have learned to accept compromises and be satisfied with less-than-perfect solutions. My perfectionism has become a characteristic that pleases both me and my employer. I do my work so that I am happy with my results.” The absolute has become impossible – now he only strives for the optimal result.

Open University Needs Slimming Down

by Miira Lähteenmäki

The continuing debate over the fate of the Open University may be nearing an end. The Ministry of Education and the universities have finally reached a consensus: the Open University is getting too big to control. No one wants to go through with the much-feared option of automatic admission to the University, and yet something has to be done with the tens of thousands of Open University students.
    The debate began two years ago, when so-called Relander funding made it possible for the Open University to expand to twice its size in two years. At the same time, funding of the universities themselves was cut by virtually the same amount. The Ministry based this appropriation of money on the large amount of unemployed youth, although the universities felt they were hardly appropriate ”storage places” for the unemployed. The most harsh critics of the plan felt that the level of university education in Finland was being sacrificed in order to make up for a poorly managed employment policy.
    Unemployed persons under 25 entered the Open University in numbers no one had anticipated. 46,000 students now study in Helsinki’s Open University and Continued Education School, compared to 29,000 degree students in the University itself. Kirsti Kylä-Tuomola of the Ministry campaigned actively for the expansion of the Open University, ”The Relander money was a political maneuver that I hope doesn’t repeat itself. The goal was to beautify statistics by moving people from the unemployment lines somewhere else.”
    According to critics, the Open University is quickly becoming a concrete part of the degree program – a paid-for prep course after which the University doors open easily. Tatu Laurila of the Helsinki Student Union comments, ”Already now there are basic courses with no students because all the new students have completed them in the Open University.” Laurila hopes for a clear solution, ”I hope that this mess ends with a decision to return the Open University to its original purpose and make it a concrete part of the University.”

Heinonen Believes In Quality of Education

by Jarno Forssell

Minister of Education Olli-Pekka Heinonen doesn’t think education will lose its prestige, even if study places are being made more available in the name of unemployment policy. ”I don’t subscribe to the claim that we have made too many changes too quickly. Many of the changes we have made needed to happen long ago,” Heinonen states. ”I believe that change has come to stay in our society. Living with change and insecurity has become an everyday phenomenon in every sector. Many of the changes we have made are changes to frameworks, where we have attempted to make the system more flexible in order to react to change better.”
    Of the controversial Relander funding of Open Universities, Heinonen is careful to comment, ”Increasing the number of study opportunities is a social-political method that works well in times of cyclical unemployment. It becomes problematic with long-term unemployment.” He feels that the purpose is served when education is directed at younger people under 20 without vocational education, and runs afoul when participants move from one course to another without finding work. Heinonen feels the best employment policy the Ministry of Education can endorse is to ensure the quality of education, ”This is the central issue. Now, as we increase the availability of education, our greatest challenge is to guarantee that the level of education is maintained. Our current task at the Ministry is to create ’quality control teams’, particularly in vocational education.”

Elections Bring Little Change

by Miska Rantanen and Miira Lähteenmäki

Recent elections of student representatives to the Helsinki University Student Union Parliament brought no major upheavals. The main winners were representatives of student faculty interest groups like Pykälä, the interest group for students of law. The Green Party lost only one of its representative seats in Helsinki, faring better than in other university cities in Finland.
    Voting percentages fell once again this year, from 37% in 1992 to 31% this year. Candidates in the election comment. ”I’m sure that around 75% of those running don’t even want to be elected. The threshold for candidacy is so low – a lot of people just make a parody of it all,” says Aki T. Niemi. ”If you can get enough friends together, even Donald Duck could win.” Taru Koskinen of the interest group for physics students, Limes, feels that students have had no reason to radicalize, ”No one gets too upset if you cut study aid by 30 FIM.” Sampo Luoto believes that candidates are too similar, ”These days people are of pretty much the same opinion about everything. There are only small differences which don’t motivate anyone.”
    Read the results

Seniors Consider Name Change

by Jarno Forssell

The fall membership campaign of the interest group for graduates of the University of Helsinki , The Helsinki University Senior Organization, attracted 300 new members. Another two hundred or so are expected to join within the next half year. During the campaign, its director Sari Roos noticed that the name of the organization caused some confusion. Many associate the word senior with retirement age. A proposal to change the the organization’s name to Alumni will be considered in the next General Meeting on November 28.
    The organization has collected nine company sponsors to date and plans to present one student from each faculty with a 6,000 FIM stipend annually. Student internship opportunities are also being planned. In October, Senior of the Year and Speaker of the Finnish Parliament Riitta Uosukainen proposed a senior-organized money drive for university library material. Every graduate of the University of Helsinki is eligible for membership. Call (90) 191 22311 between 1-3 p.m. on Mondays for more information.

Slight Changes to 1996 Admission

by Nina Korhonen

Recent changes to matriculation exams will only somewhat affect the 1996 admissions procedures to the University of Helsinki. The University feels that taking the changes into account already at this early stage would put previous high school graduates at a disadvantage. The entrance exam continues to be an important factor in each of the faculties. Each faculty admits some students on the basis of their entrance exam results alone. Some, like the Faculties of Arts, Veterinary Studies and Geography, accept over half of their first-year students in this manner.
    The faculties’ individual study offices will offer information regarding the faculty’s entrance exam requirements, locations and dates after the turn of the year. Details about test score requirements can be found on the WWW (, Gopher (Gopher:// and Freenet networks (Lentokenttä/heli).

The Beatles! Yeah, Yeah, Yeah. Yeah!

by Miska Rantanen

Calling all Liverpool quartet fans! On Wednesday, November 22 a new television series will begin that will tell you everything you ever wanted to know about the Beatles. The Beatles Anthology will be shown in four installments throughout the week, premiring two new songs compiled from John Lennon’s old demo tapes.

My Dear Insane Petersburg

by Sami Hyrskylahti

First year student of journalism Pasha Vladimirski thinks that St. Petersburg is a mad place to live, but certainly not boring. ”Petersburg is the greatest city in the world. Here I am my own master and I know exactly what I can do. I feel as if I am in the womb,” he explains in the philosophic way typical of Petersburg inhabitants.
    In the mid-1980s, as freedom breathed its way into Russia after the stifling Soviet years, Pasha participated in the corresponding renaissance of the Russian underground culture. ”It was the greatest time – under the old system it was so easy to live without doing anything. One rupla would last a week. When the iron curtain fell, we met foreign people. At first we were all into rock and the USA. As the decade ended, there was more of an interest in Europe, electronic music, techno, not to mention LSD and mushrooms. A lot of us went abroad because we thought, ’we can go, so we should.’ Then we’d wonder ’What in the hell?’ and come back home.
    Pasha doesn’t want to predict anything about his future. ”How can I plan years ahead when I don’t even know what is going to happen tomorrow? Absurdism plays a major role in my normal life.” Pasha still continues his studies, writes about all sorts of subjects and regularly reads Russian literature from the 1920’s. ”What pisses me off and makes me sad is a younger generation that sees this madness and thinks that it doesn’t need an education, that it is enough to be strong, and models itself after the bandit-shitheads that have all the power now.” He continues, ”I find this kind of chaos to be a tremendous source of energy. Life in Switzerland, for example, would most certainly cause me to atrophy.”

Translation Pamela Kaskinen