University Visions for 2015
By Jarno Forssell
In early 1994, the University of Helsinki’s Rector Risto Ihamuotila created a working committee to create a vision of the University’s future: the ‘University 2015’ committee. This January, their report was published. Head of the committee and Professor of Philosophy Ilkka Niiniluoto isn’t expecting any catastrophes, but adds that a lot can happen in twenty years. Compare today’s situation to 1975, for example. “Anything is possible,” he comments.
The committee was created in attempt to maintain a long-term plan, something that is usually obscured by day-to-day concerns. Niiniluoto’s group created three scenarios or visions of the future for 2015, and then went on to foresee what kind of demands these three different scenarios would place on the University and how the University could prepare itself for them. The main goal is for the University to preserve its task, its ‘mission’, as well as it can. According to the committee, the mission of the University of Helsinki is to be “Finland’s leading institution for intellectual and spiritual enlightenment, which produces and transmits new scientific ways of thinking and reasoned information through research, instruction and international cooperation.”
In the first ‘prosperity’ scenario, the successful, internationally cooperative Finland of 2015 generously supports educational and cultural activity. Helsinki is the multicultural center of the Baltic and the University campus is a prominent, active meeting place. Financing and employment are not problems. The second scenario is the “tough competition” vision in which cities, states and economic areas compete amongst each other without mercy. Cooperation is a no-go both internationally and domestically. The universities of the metropolitan area have been combined into one efficiency unit, in which applicable know-how and occupational skills are stressed. The third “downward spiral” scenario pictures a world economic crisis in which state bankruptcy has drained University funding. Graduates find themselves in line at the unemployment office.
Niiniluoto hopes that Finland will move towards the first “prosperity” scenario alternative. “All signs seem to indicate, however, that we should expect tough competition, although we haven’t said so directly in our report,” he says.
Vera – the Student Pop Star
By Miska Rantanen
Less than two years ago at a concert, third-year student of literature and art history Vera didn’t think that musician Maki took her seriously when she asked him where the women singers in his group were. “At the time, he said he had a good idea for a women soloist and promised to call me. Surprisingly enough, he did call me and asked me to do a demo.”
In October of 1994 a record deal was signed and a second female singer, Sani, joined the group. That group became ‘Aikakone’ – the best-selling techno group in Finland today, passing the double platinum level in record sales, at over 80,000 copies sold, in mid-December 1995 with its first album. Vera hasn’t had much time for studies since the album’s release. “I still plan on graduating before I’m thirty,” she assures. “I visited the opening carnival this fall and ran into my old study acquaintances. I lamented that probably none of them would be studying there any more by the time I had time for studies again.”
She plans to stay with Aikakone as long as she feels good about it, although the last year and a half has taught her that predicting the future is near impossible. “Time is a great thing really because you can’t govern it,” she says. Despite Aikakone’s skyrocket success, she still seems to have kept her feet on the ground. “We have never bragged that we have the best thing in the world in our hands or anything. We’ve tried to be open and keep our eyes open.” Despite her busy fall, she registered as a student and plans to complete a few essays this spring. “I don’t remember a time when I haven’t been interested in books. Imagination has always been more interesting to me than simple visual entertainment,” describes Vera, “Books are raw material for the brain.”
Professor of the Year
By Nina Korhonen
Professor of Biochemistry Carl G. Gahmberg has been named Professor of the Year at the University of Helsinki. Biochemistry is a favored subject at the University – 30 new students are admitted annually, although the number of applicants exceeds that number manifold. Biochemistry students also finish their studies in less time than the average student, making the department one of the most ‘efficient’ in the University system. Despite this success, Professor Gahmberg is still wary of result-oriented changes at the University. “The University shouldn’t become an educational facility whose purpose is to churn out a certain number of cloned Master’s degrees. There should be opportunities for individualists as well,” he explains.
An internationally recognized researcher of cell formulas, Professor Gahmberg has seen a lot of changes come about in the University since his student days in the 1960’s. Cooperative work between students and professors is far more common, with less lectures, better course books and clearly improved audio-visual material. Gahmberg also believes that international contacts have encouraged students to study harder.
YTHS faces Further Cuts
By Miira Lähteenmäki
The University Student Health Care Foundation (YTHS) will be forced to tighten its belt once again in 1996. After savings of seven million marks in the last year, another one million must be cut back in the coming year – the biggest cuts are expected in dental and mental health care. If students aren’t lucky enough to snag a cancellation spot, the expected wait for a psychologist, dentist, eye doctor or gynecologist could be more than two months.
In the four year’s time that YTHS has been trimming down its budget, the number of students at the University has increased by 7,000. All students currently pay 168 FIM a year for YTHS services, when other health care centers normally charge less than 150 FIM per visit, so the Foundation is trying to avoid raising the student fee.
Students don’t show up for over 8,000 dentist appointments a year without canceling their appointments. Although this is only 4% of the total appointments booked with YTHS, it corresponds to four full-time dentists’ time. Because of the long waiting periods for dentists, students have figured out that the only way to get immediate attention is to call and complain of a horrible toothache. YTHS has increased time available for ‘acute cases’ because of this phenomenon.
Starting next summer, the YTHS Center in Helsinki will undergo a thorough renovation, scheduled to last two years. Dentistry and mental health care will be forced to evacuate the building. Dental care will relocate to the Ruskeasuo dental clinic and no decision has been made of yet regarding the mental health facilities.
Snooping in the University Archives
By Reetta Räty
Ever wanted to know all of the different ways people have been caught cheating on exams at the University of Helsinki? The University of Helsinki archives have detailed records on all kinds of University activity from 1829 to 1966. The yellowed pages reveal that at the turn of the century most of the students caught cheating on exams were found in the Faculty of Law. Perhaps a small comfort to lawyers is the fact that many a future priest was also caught red-handed smuggling in notes in those days.
The archives also contain the complete police records of past students up until the previous decade. For those that seek sensationalism, the crime register contains some names that are famous today. Current national figures have participated in forbidden protests, shoplifted men’s suits from Stockmanns and run naked in the streets in their youth. The archives are located in the University of Helsinki’s Main Building and are open to the public from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on weekdays.
Jobs For Sale at Contact Forum
By Miira Lähteenmäki
On Wednesday, the 14th of February, 37 companies will be searching for future employees at the Contact Forum. AGA, Benefon, Ericsson, the European Union, Helsingin Sanomat, Nokia, Neste, Tekes and Veho, for example, will be participating. Contact Forum is the largest fair for employers and university students in Finland. The Forum has traditionally favored engineers and economists, but this year promises plenty for students of the humanities as well. Physicists, mathematicians, students of medicine and law and, of course, computer science, are particularly in demand.
Minister of Law Sauli Niinistö and Neste CEO Jaakko Ihamuotila will both speak. Students are welcome to search out a future job for themselves at the Forum, located at Hotel Dipoli in Espoo. Buses will leave free of charge every hour on the hour from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. from in front of Porthania. Admission to the Forum is free.
UNIEXPO comes to Helsinki
Universities in the Helsinki area will distribute information and answer questions for potential students this spring as part of the UNIEXPO Study Fair. The Fair is scheduled to take place in the University’s Main Building on Tuesday, March 5th from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. and Wednesday, March 6th from 9-4. On both days beginning at 10 a.m. in the University’s Great Hall, students of the various institutions taking part in the Fair will talk about their experiences. The Helsinki School of Economics and Business Administration, the Sibelius Academy, the University of Art and Design and the University of Helsinki are four of the nine universities that will attend.
Translation Pamela Kaskinen