Review from the vice-dean of specialist education, bilingual affairs and community relations

The Faculty of Veterinary Medicine responds to challenges by engaging with society

Maria Fredriksson-AnomaaFor the University of Helsinki, 2015 was a rollercoaster year with many concurrent changes, including the reform of specialist education. The provisions of the Universities Act on specialist education were amended, to take effect on 1 January 2015. At the same time, specialist education in medicine and dentistry changed into non-degree education, which will make it easier to predict student numbers in specialist education and to allocate related resources. Specialist education in veterinary medicine has not yet been amended, but potential needs for changes will be charted in 2016. In 2015, 32 veterinarians began pursuing specialist education. The number of graduates from specialist education was 20, which met the University’s targets. In November 2015, 19 students took the specialist examination, and 16 of them passed it. The numbers have declined from those in 2014, when 32 students took the examination, and 29 of them passed it. This year, the examination was administered for the first time on two days, which facilitated its invigilation at the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine. The specialist committee convened four times in 2015. Usually organised in the autumn, the annual specialist training day was postponed until spring 2016. In addition, the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine concluded a collaboration agreement on the placement of a new specialist education position in equine diseases at the recently established veterinary hospital in Savo.

The University’s units charted their continuing education provision in late 2015. The future of centrally provided continuing education services is under consideration. The Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, together with the Finnish Veterinary Association, has begun reviewing the continuing education needs of veterinarians in the area of small animals.

Small steps forward in bilingual activities

The committee on bilingual activities convened three times in 2015. In the autumn, the committee accepted the objectives for bilingual activities in 2016 and a draft on long-term objectives (document in Swedish). These objectives include the inclusion of Swedish-language teaching, group assignments or study material in an increasing number of courses. The committee also examined the current situation of bilingual activities at the Faculty. In November, Anna-Christina Martin, the new head of development at the University’s unit for Swedish-language affairs, visited the Faculty, which also organised a special day for about 30 Swedish-speaking upper secondary school students who visited the Faculty to learn more about academic veterinary education. The Faculty used its funding for bilingual activities primarily for translations because no bilingual courses were organised despite several efforts. The Viikki/Kumpula campus steering group responsible for developing bilingual activities convened three times.

A broad spectrum of community relations

The University of Helsinki celebrated its 375th anniversary in 2015. The Faculty of Veterinary Medicine also had cause to celebrate: the Faculty celebrated its 20th anniversary as part of the University of Helsinki on 25 February by publishing a special book of recollections (book in Finnish), which nearly 5,000 people have already read. Moreover, on 22 October, the 70th anniversary of veterinary education was celebrated with representatives of the Faculty’s stakeholders.

70-year celebration of  Veterinary education in Finland - stakeholder had the opportunity to familiarize themselves with the latest research and education development at the EE-house.

70-year celebration of Veterinary education in Finland – stakeholder had the opportunity to familiarize themselves with the latest research and education development at the EE-house.

The Faculty also organised a three-day conferment ceremony from 4 to 7 June (link in Finnish). The ceremony saw the conferment of 51 doctoral degrees in veterinary medicine and 17 in philosophy. President Sauli Niinistö received an honorary doctorate in veterinary medicine, and Ritva Poukka Evarts, the first person to defend a doctoral dissertation in veterinary medicine in Finland, received the title of jubilee doctor. Other events in 2015 included the One Health panel at Think Corner on 5 February, the Common Health theme at Korkeasaari Zoo from 19 to 22 February, the Animal University event in Viikki on 9 May and the national Animal Week at Think Corner from 5 to 10 October, when a pop-up cat café also opened at the Veterinary Teaching Hospital.

The Faculty’s most important alumni event each year is the Annual Veterinary Meeting, where practising veterinarians meet with the Faculty’s researchers and teachers. A particularly interesting feature this year was the talk by Mirja Ruohoniemi, the Faculty’s vice-dean for undergraduate education and Veterinarian of the Year in 2015, who described her varied career to an audience of colleagues. The Faculty’s PR stand presented current research topics and new trends in teaching.

The University of Helsinki is continuing to monitor the number of registered faculty alumni*. The number of alumni at the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine at the end of 2015 was 273 (target: 611). We still have room for improvement: joining the the network of alumni is both easy and free, and registered members receive information about the latest research and events. The Faculty organised its traditional Alumni Day on 17 April. However, this tradition will not continue: in the future, the Faculty’s Alumni Day will coincide with that of the University, so the next Alumni Day will take place throughout the University on 17 March 2016. The Faculty’s alumni are welcome to participate in open lectures on the Viikki Campus as well as all other events at the University. For more information, see

Maria Fredriksson-Ahomaa
Vice-Dean for specialist education, bilingual affairs and community relations
Faculty of Veterinary Medicine
University of Helsinki

*All those who graduated from or worked at the College of Veterinary Medicine or the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine are considered Faculty alumni.