Jacob Söderman is the Alumnus of the Year

Söderman defends the Finnish university system.

Jacob Söderman Jacob Söderman, Licentiate of Law, was awarded the title of the Alumnus of the Year at the Old Student House last Tuesday. The title is awarded by the University of Helsinki Alumni Association to persons who have significantly promoted academic education in their field both by setting an example and through their work.

Jacob Söderman has, during his long career, made a notable contribution to Finnish and European jurisprudence and legal culture. Moreover, he has staunchly defended the position of the Bildungsuniversität in our society.

In his acceptance speech, Jacob Söderman discussed the future of this educational ideal. He underlined the advantages of the Finnish university system, which in the recent months has received much criticism. "It is important for a small nation that each talented person has access to education so they can benefit society regardless of place of residence or family income," said Söderman.

Finnish universities have strongly developed their operations but both the business community and the public sector have imposed even further pressures on universities to reform. Söderman said that modernisation of universities is necessary, but stressed that universities must not forget their basic task. "The basic task of the university is to serve as the beacon of education and humanity in Finnish society. No-one else has the same experience, wealth of knowledge and commitment necessary to take over this task."

Jacob Söderman serves as the external member of the University of Helsinki Senate for the three-year term 2004–2006. Söderman has previously served as the European Ombudsman, and is currently a member of the group deliberating the reform of the European Court of Human Rights.

Text: Mikael Vänttinen
Photo: Veikko Somerpuro

Translation: Valtasana Oy

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