For the University of Helsinki, 2016 will be recorded in history as the year of numerous simultaneous changes – all of which also impacted the Language Centre. The University’s cooperation negotiations led to the reduction of staff to adapt to the current economic situation. Most of the Language Centre’s administrative staff were transferred to University Services. Meanwhile, communication and language studies continued to be updated together with the new degree programmes as part of the University’s large-scale education reform.
Fortunately, many administrative professionals who had previously worked at the Language Centre remained in their positions, though with added duties and responsibilities. We also welcomed new colleagues from University Services to help our work. Job descriptions have gradually become clearer, and new forms of cooperation have been established, resulting in smoother operations.
The Language Centre’s implementation plan was approved in late 2016. Accordingly – and in line with the University’s new strategic plan – the Language Centre will continue to develop open, digital and interactive environments for language learning. It will also ensure that the diversification and digital development of teaching is pedagogically justified and that the learning environments as well as the activities in them are appropriate and promote learning. The Centre has also emphasised the link to the needs of employers, including communication and language skills as well as general career skills.
The Language Centre’s development work also aims to support opportunities for language learning outside the classroom as part of studies and to reinforce student autonomy in studies. Assessment methods will be diversified to be more clearly aligned with teaching, study methods and students’ individual learning outcomes. The Language Centre will also provide collaborative and educational support for new experiments. Digital tools for communication and learning will continue to be charted and centralised, and the Language Centre will provide training for using such tools for communication in teaching and for interaction within the work community. This will ensure that all staff have the digital skills required by their work.
The Language Centre participated in the Ministry of Education and Culture application process for spearhead projects by preparing two project proposals. Of the two proposals, the project on flexible learning and guidance in Finnish and Swedish for future employment needs received close to €1.8 million, to be allocated to the four universities and eight universities of applied sciences involved in the three-year project. The funding will be used to develop teaching in Finnish and Swedish on an exceptionally comprehensive basis.
I wish to thank the staff of the Language Centre and the experts of University Services for their cooperation, commitment and innovation during an exceptionally demanding period.
Director of the Language Centre
Photo: Erkki Väänänen