Rector Kola: High-quality learning is the foundation

Jukka Kola, Rector of the University of Helsinki, emphasises the significance of high-quality learning. Without it, we cannot produce top research or education, or ensure wellbeing.

 “Problems and phenomena in Finland and elsewhere are highly complex. We need reliable, high-quality research to help us understand the problems we face and to better comprehend our society and our world,” said Jukka Kola, speaking at the opening of the University of Helsinki’s academic year 2016–2017 today, 5 September.

Kola pointed out that top researchers cannot be produced without high-standard, motivating teaching. The mission of education cannot be left by the wayside as universities compete in research achievements.

 “At the University of Helsinki, we are educating our students to change our country and the world. Students from our University are top researchers of the future who can find employment in Finland or elsewhere. They are specialists in their fields who can identify and understand broad topics, as well as manifold interrelationships and consequences. They have the will and the ability to solve major global problems.”

Focus on the student

“We wanted to focus on the student in our new Strategic Plan for the period 2017-2020,” Kola stated.

The education reform changes the content, methods and structures of teaching. Multidisciplinary Bachelor’s programmes respond to the complex challenges posed by the surrounding society. The new Master’s degree programmes will be finalised during this academic year.

 “One of the cornerstones of our education reform is the early incorporation of students into research. One of our key principles is that teaching must be based on high-quality research. And vice versa, that high-quality teaching will ensure a sufficient number of skilled researchers in the future.”

The digital leap requires investment

Digitisation plays a key part in the development of education and learning. A digital learning culture is placed in the centre of a new kind of collaborative teaching.

“Digitisation must promote interaction, not reduce it; it cannot result in machine-based communications. The digital leap also requires investments in learning environments,” said Kola.

The University of Helsinki produces highly employable experts. Kola mentioned the qualitative employment of graduates as a sound objective for the University. Qualitative employment means finding employment that complies with the level of one’s degree.

“It makes sense for a Master’s graduate to be employed in a position intended for a Master’s degree holder rather than taking a job suitable for the holder of a lower degree – or one intended for a doctoral graduate.”

Kola pointed out that education and expertise should be valued and used more.  Finnish companies in particular should employ more doctoral degree holders, and international comparison supports this.

“Can Finland’s poor economic performance be partly attributed to our inability or lack of courage to use the potential provided by our highly educated experts?”