bad news from Helsinki

Johanna Laakso jolaakso at
Thu Jan 21 08:47:31 UTC 1999

Dear fellow Uralists,

this is to inform you about what is going on at the University of
Helsinki. The University, and the Faculty of Arts, will start to
distribute their (ever-decreasing?) funds in a new way, which means that
the resources allocated for each department depend on its "production",
i.e. the amount of degrees and courses passed at the department in
question. This principle constitutes a severe threat to many small
departments oriented towards research and scientific instruction rather
than, i.e., "producing" teachers.

The Department of Finno-Ugrian Studies, among others, has been requested
to cut down its expenses immediately. The only way to do this is to leave
posts open as soon as they become vacant. In the next few years, the only
vacant positions available will be those of visiting teachers of Hungarian
and Estonian. This means that - in the worst case - we will lose our
visiting professors of Hungarian and Estonian, a visiting lecturer of
Hungarian and both lecturers of Estonian. This makes teaching and studying
in two subjects of our Department, "Hungarian language and culture" and
"Estonian language and culture", impossible. In the long run, this will
also endanger the future of general Finno-Ugrian and Finnic studies.

A few years ago we appealed to colleagues world-wide, when the Faculty of
Arts was planning to fill the post of Professor of Finno-Ugrian language
studies only temporarily (which would have meant giving it away after 5
years). Now the situation is somewhat different: our present problems are
not directly caused by decisions made by the Faculty, but they are a
consequence of Finnish university and science funding policies in general.

There is obviously no simple way to help us. However, the least we can do
is to start a public discussion about general values in university and
research funding. Do the roots, history and contacts of the national
language deserve special treatment in this world of globalization? Are the
traditions of Finnish research and the University of Helsinki worth
preserving and continuing? How do our foreign colleagues see this

For those able to read Finnish, more information can be found at

Still hoping for the best,

---------- Johanna Laakso <Johanna.Laakso at Helsinki.FI> ----------------
--------- Helsingin yliopisto, Suomalais-ugrilainen laitos ------------
----------------- -------------------
-- "Feministi on nainen, jolla on mukavat keng├Ąt."  - Robin Williams --

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