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The Director's review

The aspiring aim of Helsinki University’s latest strategy is to rise to the level of the top-fifty universities. A top-level international university needs top-quality instruction in language and communication skills as well as excellent language-related services to support its activities and internationalisation. This is the central perspective in the fresh strategy programme of the Language Centre, which was collaboratively worked on during 2012. Pride of place in the strategy goes to providing a range of courses and services that meet the needs of the University, excellent teaching and multi-disciplinary development, and making internationality and multilingualism both visible and audible. Essential for the fulfilment of the programme continues to be multi-level and close cooperation with the university faculties and departments, respect for the needs of the students, and active networking both within the university as well as with external stakeholders.

The Language Centre’s own international pursuits continued to be lively. A record number of teachers and other personnel took part in Erasmus exchange programmes and we were also a popular attraction for visitors. The Language Centre was one of the University’s centres of excellence in teaching for the period 2010-2012 and 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 research projects were supported by making time available for research, as well as by establishing a research development group, organising seminars and reading circles, and by offering a publication forum for the resulting scientific articles. The funding also enabled us to reinforce our international visibility by sending several presenters to one of the main conferences in the field, CercleS, held in London in September.

The University is in the process of renewing its Intranet and the Language Centre was one of the pilot units, publishing its own Flamma pages first of all the pilots. The renewal process entailed a considerable amount of work for all the units of the Language Centre, but the ensuing result justifies the effort. The new pages serve our purposes better than earlier, from the point of view of the students as well as our own personnel, and all the other matters related to language studies and services for the rest of the university community.

The Language Centre also contributed to the programme of events that took place in the University’s Think Corner, as well as to the Koe kampus! event, which aimed at introducing the University to high school students.

The Joint Work Safety Committee of the University awarded the 2012 Occupational Safety Award to the Language Centre. The award acknowledged the long term and systematic development of interactive and collective involvement in the community and good practices in promoting well-being at work.  Two teachers from the Language Centre were selected as founding members of the Helsinki University’s brand new Teachers’ Academy.

The past year was the 35th anniversary of the Language Centre and the 40th anniversary of the Self Access Centre’s operations. A modest exhibition of times gone by illustrated both the visionary zeal of the founders of this institution as well as the impulse and capacity of the later and current generations to develop and transform according to the changing needs of the university community.  I extend my warm thanks to all of them.

Ulla-Kristiina Tuomi
Director of the Language Centre

Kuva: Veikko Somerpuro