Can a general education university be dynamic?

Ilkka NiiniluotoRector Niiniluoto pondered in his opening ceremony speech for the new academic year on efficiency in a university and factors affecting the social status of students.

In his first opening ceremony speech as Rector, given on 10 September 2003, Ilkka Niiniluoto said it is his guiding thought that a university providing general education can at the same time be efficient.

"It is true and remarkable that universities influence, through technological innovations, the very competitiveness and economic growth of a country. But even more primary is how effective they are in their task in general education."

"Cultural, administrative and social innovations convey the positive impact of universities thus affecting in many ways people’s quality of life. This has also had an indirect economic bearing, when Finland has been built into a linguistically and culturally unique, democratic state ruled by law."

Rector Niiniluoto points out that according to the University’s strategy, its core values are criticalness, truth, knowledge, multi-disciplinariness, autonomy, general education and ethicalness. "But economic efficiency has no absolute value, rather it is a significant condition enabling the achievement of the university’s true goals."

The Rector also discussed the topical questions of length of studies, student aid and student selection. "These questions should not be reduced to ones concerning merely technical and economic investments, they are also integrally linked with the universities' wider duties in education and their success."

"If we are to reduce the average study times, student aid should be allocated more money in the state budget. If we wish to attract foreign experts and students, the currently reviewed Aliens Acts should take a different stand in regard to the complicated restrictions on residence permits," the Rector says, directing his words to Parliament.

Text: Niina Haasola
Photo: Liisa Parviainen
10.9.2003
www.helsinki.fi/digitalcommunications

Translation: Valtasana Oy

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