Rector Niinimäki: From turbulence to steady growth

The rapid pace of changes and need for continuing education were discussed in the opening speeches.

The academic year 2018–2019 was opened on September 10 with a festive ceremony. In his opening speech, Rector Jouko Niinimäki emphasised the need to focus on university’s core functions.

“We are beginning our 60th year in a situation where the changes implemented by the current government of Finland are about to crystallise into new kinds of trends and operating models at the University of Oulu. We hope that after strong turbulence, we are moving back into a phase of steadier development and continuing intellectual growth.”

According to the Rector, changes often burden the staff and take focus out of the core mission.

“It is important that the development we are facing does not turn our attention to ourselves but that our attention and energy are focused to the surrounding world. There are many challenges that research and education can help solve.”

As examples Rector Niinimäki mentioned climate change and massive migration.

New skills in a flexible way

The universities are quickly preparing digital opportunities for continuing education. The aim is to allow people to update their skills throughout their working career.

”Education is more often acquired alongside work, which means that study opportunities need to be detached from time and place. For universities, the change means offering parts of degrees as modular entities and quickly digitalising parts of education. On the other hand, only digital studies will not help future generations to grow into academically civilised persons who are able to carry responsibility,” Niinimäki said.

 “The organising of education and research require new kind of attitude where we break the mold and quickly embrace new operation modes.”

The Minister of Education congratulated Oulu

In the opening ceremony, the society’s address was given by the Minister of Education Sanni Grahn-Laasonen. The Minister congratulated the University for success in the Academy of Finland Flagship Programme and the construction of a joint campus with the Oulu University of Applied Sciences.

"The message of the ministry has been that difference must not be a barrier to co-operation – and in Oulu, this is about to come to fruition."

Minister Grahn-Laasonen also discussed the need for continuous learning as well as internationally intensified competition in higher education.

“For example: In the last 15 years, the global volume of research and development activities has doubled. However, only a relatively small amount of this growth has occurred in OECD countries, as developing countries have invested heavily in education.”

The Minister also had time to meet with students of the University of Oulu for half an hour before the start of the opening ceremony.


In the ceremony professor Ilya Usoskin (on the left) was awareded for his contribution to research, university teacher Elisa Heikkinen for excellent student feedback and professor Markku Oivo for promoting internationality.


Last updated: 11.9.2018