Advisory board member says Helsinki’s image needs enhancing

According to Sue Scott, professor of sociology at the Glasgow Caledonian University, the University of Helsinki has a problem with its image.

Advisory board member says Helsinki’s image needs enhancing

”University of Helsinki is of a high standard and an excellent place for research. In particular, the quality of living is considerably high in Helsinki compared to many other university cities. It is nice and quiet here, but there’s also thriving urban culture for those who want it,” Sue Scott says.

Unfortunately, not many people know that.

”When you talk about Helsinki in Britain, the faces you see are quite blank. The only things many people seem to know about Finland is that it is far away and the language is impossible.”

Coping with English

Scott, a member of the University of Helsinki’s International Advisory Board, has known Helsinki for twenty years already. She has visited the city frequently, cooperated with Finnish sociologists, and a few years ago her partner worked as a researcher at the Helsinki University’s Collegium for Advanced Studies.

But how would Scott begin to improve the university’s appeal in the eyes of international scholars?

“At least I would begin to emphasise the fact that one does fine with English here. Correspondingly, the job descriptions of foreign researchers should be adjusted so that one truly copes with them without mastering Finnish. And, if the university’s administrative tasks are still carried out in Finnish, the workload should be distributed by allocating, say, more teaching to those coming from abroad.”

Scott does not think that the level of wages in Finnish universities will be a problem.

”However, the quality of life is essential, and it is good in Helsinki. You should emphasise your Nordic pace of life more.”

Emphasis on post-graduate students

Financially speaking, the University of Helsinki could be a very attracting alternative for doctoral students. In Britain, for example, it costs to get a doctorate degree. For post-graduate students from outside the EU, the price is typically EUR 11,000 – 13,000 per year.

In fact, Scott would invest in post-graduate students in the university’s recruiting.

”Being young, doctoral students are often more willing to move to another country. And even if the students subsequently return to their home countries, they will certainly talk about their positive experiences, thereby contributing to improving the image of the University of Helsinki.”

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Text: Juha Merimaa
Photo: Ari Aalto
18.9.2012
Translation: AAC Global
University of Helsinki, digital communications


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