Beginning in March, last year was dominated by the Covid-19 pandemic, which put a stop to physical meetings and travel, and thus had a significant impact on international activities, especially the mobility of students and teachers. International conferences were also postponed by a year or organised virtually. For some of us, virtual conferences made it possible to participate in more events than usual, but unfortunately social interaction and the establishment of new connections in most cases suffered.
The pandemic also affected Swedish-language activities when both the Högskoledagen and the Uni på väg events were moved online. Our Faculty participated in both events on short notice. Veterinarian Thomas Grönthal and sixth-year veterinary student Julianne Börman talked about our diverse profession and education on a video for Högskoledagen created together with the fields of medicine and dentistry. Veterinarian Emma Lagerstedt gave a virtual lecture titled “Hunden på kliniken – Hur vet veterinären vad som är fel?” (‘A dog at the clinic – How does the veterinarian know what is wrong?’) at the Uni på väg event. Campus Coordinator Richard Backman, who is responsible for Swedish-language affairs at Meilahti Campus, was responsible for the recordings and interviews.
The University’s strategic period 2017–2020 concluded last year. One of the successes of the period was the Faculty’s Swedish-language teaching strand, Strimma. The Swedish-language bachelor’s instruction began in autumn 2018, and the first students are now in their third year. The planning of such instruction was expanded to encompass licentiate studies, scheduled to begin in autumn 2021. Those responsible for planning and implementing the bachelor’s level studies were Anna Valros, a professor offering Swedish-language teaching at the Faculty, and Antti Iivanainen, a degree programme director. Clinical Instructor Maria Kareskoski and Riikka Keto-Timonen, degree programme director, were responsible for planning the licentiate-level studies. The first part of the Faculty’s teacher meeting in December focused on a presentation of Strimma, with Åsa Mickwitz of the Centre for University Teaching and Learning (HYPE) explaining how Swedish-language elements can be added to teaching.
Our Faculty’s most high-profile international activities in 2020 took place within the Una Europa network. One of the five focus areas of the network is One Health, with Olli Peltoniemi serving as the academic coordinator and Topi Tanskanen as the research coordinator. In November our Faculty and the Faculty of Veterinary Science at the University of Pretoria in South Africa organised their first seminar, in which researchers from both faculties presented the latest research under the One Health umbrella. Jenni Kiiholma, agricultural counsellor at the Embassy of Finland in Pretoria, was responsible for the virtual seminar.
The main theme at meetings of the international council and the Swedish-language affairs committee in 2020 was the new strategic period 2021–2030 and the selection of measures for the period 2021–2024.
Vice-dean for bilingual and international affairs
Faculty of Veterinary Medicine
University of Helsinki