Polytechnics are NOT Universities
Polytechnics teach a profession and universities make science. The difference is clear. Or is it? University of Helsinki Researcher Jouni Nurmi is concerned about the ambiguous role of polytechnics in Finland, “Polytechnics were intended to be a parallel program to the universities with the objective of training people for a certain vocation. What they have become is an intermediate to the university.” Finnish polytechnics used over two million FIM in the last spring alone on advertising and a concentrated effort is also being made to expand their programs. Nurmi feels that polytechnics are now intentionally advertising
academic as well as vocational training and this has led to misunderstandings.
In the future, polytechnics plan to offer some kind of advanced vocational degree equal to a Master’s degree. The Union of Finnish University Students (SYL) has also indicated its concern that such a degree would only lead to more confusion.
One of the latest polytechnic developments, a program offering a polytechnic degree in humanities, is an example of the current controversy. Juha Arhimäki, Development Manager at the Ministry of Education, admits that the program does not prepare its students for any vocation in particular.
Could the build up of polytechnics be putting the prestige of university degrees in this country in question? Arhimäki explains his take on the situation. “University instruction is based on a command of theory and science and scientific thought. Polytechnics focus on practicality and working life, even if the instruction is on a university level.” Ahrimäki feels that polytechnics have expanded according to plans and do not pose a threat to universities at this time.
University Funding for Special Subjects
What do you do if you are interested in something that the university doesn’t offer a course in? Get together a group of students with similar interests and hire a teacher; the University or the Student Union of Helsinki (HYY) will even pick up the tab. The deadline for entries is past now, but each year the University of Helsinki’s Study Affairs Office distributes money to several student groups that have planned classes of their own initiative.
Active students from almost every field have applied for funding to date. Some of the courses that have received funding include ‘Fast diagnosis of vaginal infections in basic health care’, ‘Introduction to the Cymric language’ and ‘Basics of vegetarianism’.
Students applying need not all be from the same faculty. Although the amount of funding per group had to be decreased because of the increasing demand, most of the groups that applied to the Study Affairs Office were granted money. The Education Policy Division of HYY also distributes money to innovative students wishing to form study groups. The deadline for application was late February.
Divine Help For Students the World Over
You’ve got a tough test and you’re not sure if you will do well. Do you ever find yourself asking for some help from above? If you do, then join the crowd. Students the world over are doing the same thing. Students in India make their way to a Ganesha temple before their tests. Ganesha is an Indian god with a elephant head and pot belly. Flowers, bananas and candy are appropriate offerings in exchange for help. Hindus are also blessed by the goddess Sarasvati, keeper of art and wisdom. Sarasvati’s partner Manjushri is a Buddhist
bodhittsava, cutting through darkness and ingnorance with his sword. Indonesian students
consult with a dukuni, a wiseman with advice for every problem. Test results improve when proper herbs and profacies are combined. 90% of Indonesian students are Muslim, each university department has its own mosque and instruction is arranged around daily prayers.
Some theories claim that the whole idea of testing came to
Europe in the 1600’s from China. Like so many other Chinese mythological characters, K’uei-shing was a erudite before becoming a god. He was an apprentice to the god of literature, Wen Ch’ang, but soon became more popular than his teacher. Before the revolution of 1912, his picture was found in almost every academic Chinese home.
The Shinto temples of Michizane are popular among students in Japan even today and amulets and trinkets from the temple sell like hot cakes. Michizane was the rector of Japan’s only university in the late 800’s and is now worshipped as the god of education and calligraphy.
Among the blood-thirsty Aztec gods, Quetzalcoatl, the god of learnedness, was an exception. It was enough for Quetzalcoatl worshippers to offer small animals or some of their own blood. The Maya Indians for their part
honored the great learned Itzamna. In Ancient Egypt, the dog-headed baboon god Thot represented knowledge and wisdom. Devoted followers of Thot would hold a celebration once a year, greeting each other with the phrase, “The Truth is Sweet.”
Translation by Pamela Kaskinen