Brief in English


Rector Proposes Increase in Faculty Number

A hot discussion is underway at the University of Helsinki concerning a possible change in the number of faculties, currently at nine. Rector Kari Raivio added fuel to the fire in a recent interview for the Finnish News Agency STT in which he reportedly said that the number of faculties could someday number thirty. The response from the University of Helsinki staff and administration was one of shock, with some people resentful that Raivio hadn’t shared his plan with them earlier. “What I said was that the number of faculties could be as little as two or as great as thirty,” explains Raivio, “Thirty just kind of took on a life of its own.”
     Deans of the faculties were shocked by Raivio’s audacious statement. “The distribution of faculties has a deep foun-dation, rooted in tradition,” explains Dean of the Theology Faculty Markku Heikkilä. The cities of Tampere, Jyväskylä and Oulu are also considering faculty changes and it appears that Helsinki will make some kind of changes soon. Administrator Ilkka Alitalo was hired last fall to assess whether it would be in the best interests of the university to separate the field of pharmacy into its own faculty. He did not recommend it. Alitalo actually recommended that the amount of faculties be reduced in order to save money.
     The Rector also feels that, in the future, departments should each apply for funding directly from the central administration. The current system has faculties receiving a large sum of money, which they then distribute among their member depart-ments. Esa Perkiö oversees Study Affairs as part of the Helsinki University student’s representative organization, HYY. “His idea is really very questionable. Instruction and research belong together. Who would make sure that the money is democratically distributed and how would the students be able to affect the process?”

The Future of Finnish Film

The Visual Arts department at the University of Industrial Art and Design is the wet dream of movie buffs. But it is at the same time a film school scraping by on a meager budget, forcing some to elbow their way to the top. Each year over 400 eager candidates apply for a place at the school, 97% of which are turned down. Today there are 120 carefully selected students whose short films do well in domestic and international film festivals.
     There are several young Finnish directors at the Visual Arts department that have created a name for themselves already. Hanna Miettinen is in her fifth year of studies. “The future looks bright. Whether we will be able to support ourselves as directors is another question, but we are all ready to do other work, too. We may be artists, but we aren’t ready to sit around and smoke cigarettes, stare out the window and wait for production decisions,” she says. Miettinen’s last work, a controversial documentary, was called 100 Clocks, explaining the secret Nazi past of her grandfather.
     Petri Kotwica’s
final film at the school was Force Majeure, about internal family contradictions. The film received a honorable mention at the Short Film Festival in Tampere. His earlier film, Kypärä (Helmet) was also recognized for its accurate picture of interpersonal relationships. “I’ve been to European festivals and it seems that there are not many interesting films coming from Southern Europe right now,” explains Kotwica.
     Corporate sponsorship is becoming a modern reality for filmmakers and many are concerned about the long-term effects. Money is scarce and filmmakers must be determined competitors. Hanna Miettinen says, “I don’t know what would happen today if Aki Kaurismäki was an unknown student and presented a script with dialogue like this: ‘What do you want? One beer, please.'”

Is Intelligence Inherited?

Children of academic parents are the overwhelming majority at the universities and the trend becomes more and more apparent with each passing year. In 1994, 44% of students had at least one parent with a university degree. This represe-ntation is extraordinary when you consider that only 12% of people over the age of 15 in Finland are university graduates. Released this February, a report about education in Finland shows the same sort of numbers. Children of fathers that hold vocational degrees make up 11% of the university population, while children of fathers who have a university degree are the 52% majority.
     “When these kinds of results were first published in the 80s, it started quite a discussion,” says Professor Osmo Kivinen of the Educational Sociology Department at the University of Turku. Kivinen does research into the hereditary nature of education. “Now people seem to think it is a good thing: it proves that education is worth it,” he says. So, in effect, the principle that higher education is open to all is misleading. Specialty schools are becoming more prevalent in Finland and public schools suffer in comparison.
     Olli-Pekka Heinonen
just finished his four year term as Minister of Education. “Experience has shown that providing the same things for everyone isn’t necessarily a solution that would promote equality and benefit everyone. We are all different and we learn things in different ways,” he explains. Heinonen feels that preparation that children receive at home before they enter school determine their eventual school performance. ” University educated parents use a wider vocabulary- providing their children with the skills necessary to verbalize themselves in school.”
     Petri Lampinen
of the research foundation Otus warns us not to jump to conclusions about school success being genetic, however. “It is only natural that parent of Helsinki university students are well educated, the capital city has a much higher rate of educated inhabitants.” And, although some may see public schools as a culmination of different values, the current system continues to raise the average level of education in Finland.

Power and Influence in 21st Century Finland: Part 8

“One little three-versed ditty isn’t going to make people change their mind, for god’s sake. Rock music rarely changes anything,” so says Toni Wirtanen, the 24 year old singer and guitarist from one of Finland’s most popular young bands Apulanta. Apulanta means ‘fertilizer’ in English and the band has sold over 200 000 albums in Finland. Wirtanen isn’t one bit interested in being someone with influence. “Who am I to tell people how the world could be better? That’s not a job for a twenty year old musician,” he says. “Besides, a lot of responsibility comes with power and I don’t want to be responsible if someone’s life goes to hell because of something I’ve said or done.”
     Fans of Apulanta are often of very impressionable ages and Wirtanen is aware of this. “Some 16 year olds aren’t dumb by any means. They just haven’t shut out new things yet. They are laying the foundation and defining their understanding of big issues. If you can feed into them at that age it will become part of their foundation.” Wirtanen winces and adds, “It sounds terrible doesn’t it? That’s why I don’t want any part of it.”

by Pamela Kaskinen