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The Director's review

The present and indeed the future strategy of Helsinki University is stamped with the determined aspiration to become more and more international. Internationalisation of the university and its community is a complex process. Traditional models of operation have to be reassessed from the perspective of increasing international participation and visibility as well as that of the international staff and students.

The Language Centre supports the university’s internationality by offering the students and personnel the language and cultural tools needed in its international endeavours.  Essential elements of these tools are the language and communication studies required in the degrees, the wide-ranging language courses offered to the personnel, and the expert translation and language revision services. By actively and pro-actively paying heed to the needs of the international students and researchers in the training and services we offer, we also ensure that their studies and work in Helsinki University goes smoothly.

In Spring 2011, the Language Centre was granted Helsinki University’s Maikki Friberg Equality Award for its promotion of equality in learning, and in particular for its Working Group for Special Learners (ERI).  The award is granted annually in recognition of meritorious activities in the promotion of equality and parity in the university.

The basic premise of the ERI activity and its development is that everybody has the right to learn languages from their own starting point. The aim is to promote equality through acknowledging different ways of learning and accessibility, to increase and disseminate knowledge and good practices, both in the Language Centre and elsewhere in the university. It is possible to promote equality by offering special groups but also by taking various small measures in any learning situation. It is the objective of the Language Centre to both produce knowledge about special learning as well as to promote research in the field.

The Language Centre is one of the university’s centres of excellence in teaching for the period 2010-2012. The performance-based funding that was received in this connection was used specifically to reinforce the position of research as a part of teaching development. Staff projects were supported by making time available for research, as well as by organising research seminars and reading circles, and by offering a publication forum for the resulting scientific articles. Our publication, Out-of-classroom language learning, which appeared early in the year, aroused widespread interest both in Finland and abroad.

Lively participation in international staff exchange programmes has continued. The general experience is that, internationally speaking, Helsinki University Language Centre is a full-service and excellent unit, and its know-how is in wide demand. International exchange enables us to share experiences with our partners and increases the visibility of the university.

In the questionnaire the university sent out in the autumn regarding the atmosphere and wellbeing at work, the Language Centre responses were amongst the most positive in the university in all aspects. Indeed, staff training, coping with work, transparency and communality have all been emphasised at the Language Centre. This work must continue.

The financial situation at the Language Centre continued to be stable. However, the financial forecasts for the university institution give cause for concern. It remains to be seen what the impact will be on the Language Centre activities considering the ever-growing and diversifying needs related to internationalisation.

Ulla-Kristiina Tuomi
Director of the Language Centre

Photo: Veikko Somerpuro