Oxford vice-chancellor: innovate and stay ambitious

The University of Helsinki has received suggestions from its International Advisory Board. A pro-vice-chancellor from the University of Oxford encourages the University to remain innovative and ambitious, despite the trying economic situation.

The University of Helsinki’s International Advisory Board visited the University this week to study its current situation. Members of the Advisory Board heard presentations on the governmental funding cuts and the planned changes at the University, such as the Big Wheel education reform, the new service organisation and the overhaul of the faculty structure.

Right now, so many changes are underway that the University needs advice.

“The members of the International Advisory Board are critical of the University but have its best interests at heart. They will stand up for us, but they do not beat around the bush when it's time to evaluate our plans from an international perspective," explains Tiina Kosunen, head of development.

Global and national

What was the Advisory Board's advice like? The report drafted by its members will be published later, but Sally Mapstone, pro-vice-chancellor of the University of Oxford, gave a preview.

According to Mapstone, the University of Helsinki must keep both the global and national perspectives in focus.

“The University must diversify its funding sources and update its degree programmes.”

According to the pro-vice-chancellor, it is equally important to support both long-term research projects and projects that aim for a more immediate impact. The University must send clear messages about its strategy and priorities.

“Success brings confidence, which is well-deserved, but you should be ready to innovate. Foster a broad-based research culture and strong degree programmes. Be ready to invest in areas with high potential, despite the economic restrictions.”

The economic situation is dire. However, Mapstone believes that the future is bright for the University of Helsinki:

“Just keep a clear direction and remain ambitious, flexible and innovative.”

The University of Helsinki has had an International Advisory Board since 2010. Members include high-profile researchers and university leadership from all over the world. This time, the members in attendance were Professor Hans-Dieter Daniel from the University of Zürich, Professor Amy Tsui from the University of Hong Kong, Pro-Vice-Chancellor Sally Mapstone from the University of Oxford, Prorector Lykke Friis from the University of Copenhagen, Vice-Rector Simone Buitendijk from the University of Leiden and Director Steven E. Hyman from the Broad Institute.