Silence of the wolves?

April 1, 2016 § Leave a comment

Dear Reader,

This time I’ve included several Finnish texts in this post in order to refer my FB friends here for links and details and not to crowd the FB pages too much with the related material. But the story behind all this is worth a few words – and there are a few English texts as well as you can see from below. The story:

I have written my critical comments on the current Finnish higher education system, presented them openly, not insulting anybody in person, arguing for my experiences, views and observations on the university system and its evident problems and failures. My critical texts have all appeared on the frontlines of the Finnish media and channels, like in our leading newspaper Helsingin Sanomat, for example (which has not been interested to publish – as special columns – some of my texts).

You would expect that such an express and repeated activity in criticizing the system would result in numerous interested contacts from the higher education management or at least from people in higher education offices or if not that then at least minimally from your own university, faculty or department. The reality?

No!No! and Ei! Practically total official silence! If I were a simple or even a complex fool, with no academic background, you could understand this. But I have a respected academic history as the Dean (the only psychologist in that position ever) of the largest faculty in Finland, numerous manager roles, even today at UH, work as an advisor for a Stanford research program, and some of my work has even occurred in Nature (long time ago) J. My blog (this one) is quite innovative and I have had numerous high-class international contacts, collaboration and talks in big firms in Silicon Valley. So, I’m a relatively sane academic and would expect some interaction. I know, of course, that I have a difficult message.

Well, to tell the truth – I don’t want any such contacts and communication right now. I have inspiring, creative stuff on my mind and on my desk. So, I have decided to stop this critical writing after one more article on an innovative (vitality-based) higher education system model-paper gets finished and published somewhere. (Note on 10th August 2016): I have still continued some public writing as I was invited to join Saimaa Summit 29th August 2016 and give a talk there on these matters and where we considered these problems in front of an influential local people… But it is time to move asap to other direction).  But for you, my young and even older colleagues, working in the system, building it and making it happen – wake up! (I’m retired) There is something scary in this attitude of those responsible for running your education system, which is a significant part of your life and passions. Don’t let silence lead to disasters as it is doing now!

As a result of these writings I have never been seriously contacted by my own university or faculty or received an invitation to tell more and present the case at a relevant (or any other, for that matter) forum, nobody from the ministry of education, practically total official silence everywhere. Except: I’ve received a number of private communications in FB and through my email, telling their individual stories, experiences and encouraging me to continue. And I’ve been invited to serve as a mentor to some young scientists. Which has been an exceptional joy.

I admire Matti Alahuhta, a real exception, the famous Finnish leader (ex-Nokia, Kone, now EK) who has invited me twice for a serious and inspiring discussion on some of the topics – and offering a lunch J He is the only one during about 7-8 years of my open and active criticism on these matters. And of course, as you can see from the last parts of the list below, I’m not only criticizing but also presenting a number of ideas and suggestions for a better system, at many levels

What is happening to the Finnish academia, that is expected to be open for discussion and criticism?? Are people afraid? Are the managers tired and overloaded? Does the system really suck?

First, here are some general thoughts on how I think about the life of a scientist in a university context – it also explains why I’m so strongly against the current higher education management system. I have given a talk on this to some of the people outlining Aalto performance metrics in 2010 – with very little success and then  to colleagues at Stanford. I’ve made only some minor changes to the text captions: Life_of_a_scientist

Here are the articles I’ve written on these topics and some quotations from them:

Paikallista elinvoimaa korkeakouluista – nyt! (It-Savo, 10.8. 2016)

“Näkyvissä ei ole vuosikausiin toimijoita, jotka muuttaisivat kehityksen suunnan. On aika toimia korkeakoulujen vaikutuspiirissä ja niiden lähipaikkakunnilla.  Lähtökohdaksi voi ottaa juuri ne paikallisesti arvokkaat tekijät, joita maan korkeakouluhallinto ylenkatsoo. Korkeakoulujen parjattu hallintomallikin tarjoaa viisaalla johtamisella ja yhteistyöllä uusia mahdollisuuksia — joita on vähemmän osattu hyödyntää.”

Korkeakoulut tuovat elinvoimaa koko Suomeen (Kaleva 7.6. 2016)
“Korkeakoulujen strategiapeli ja kamppailu hupenevista voimavaroista rapauttaa tieteenaloja ja yliopistoja Suomessa. Uudenlaisia alueellisia, taloudellisia ja kulttuurisia sekä muita kansallisen vahingon ensioireita ilmenee jo ja on pelättävissä, että tämä kehitys syvenee.”

Korkeakoulujen hallitukset pettivät odotukset. (TS 1.4. 2016)
“Hallituksiin ei siis ole onnistuttu tuomaan vaikuttavaa talousosaamista, ne eivät ole hoitaneet yhteiskuntasuhteita odotetulla tavalla eivätkä ne ole edistäneet yliopistolaisten vaikutusmahdollisuuksiakaan.”

Työttömät tohtorit ovat kansallinen häpeä. (HS 2.1. 2016)
”Tohtoreiden työllistyminen ja elämässä selviytyminen eivät virallisessa Suomessa näyttäydy erityisongelmana. Korkeakoulujen strategiapelien tai apurahaongelmien vuoksi työttömiksi jääneet huippuosaavat tohtorit kokevakin ”kaiken maailman dosenttien” hylkiökohtelun.”

Perceptions of higher education – Finnish drama. (Finnishnews. 2.2. 2016)
“Some believe that we will reach the top of the world science. Some doubt it. My question is, what if we reach the top in a haphazard field, what good do we then gain as a nation?”

Suomen korkeakoulupolitiikan strategia on vahingollinen. (Image 2, 2015)
”On syytä pelätä, että näin tosiasiassa heikennetään kansallisen osaamisen perustaa ja kykyä reagoida ennakoimattomiin tieteen haasteisiin. Samalla suomalaiset ja korkeakoulut etääntyvät maailman merkittävistä kysymyksistä.”

Tohtorien työttömyys rapauttaa osaamispohjaa. (HS 12.10. 2014, Krista Lagus in kanssa)öttömyys+rapauttaa+osaamispohjaa/a1412993330223

Tiedeyhteisö on hiljaa. (HS 2.3. 2013)
“Korkeakoulu-uudistus hiljensi yliopistojen sisäisen kritiikin.”

Korkeakoulujen henkilöstö on kriisissä. (HS 9.5. 2012)
”Yliopistojen hallinnonuudistus on epäonnistunut pahasti ja saattaa aiheuttaa suomalaiselle innovaatioympäristölle merkittävää vahinkoa.”

Suomen Akatemian rooli olisi syyt uudistaa. (HS 7.4. 2011)
”Kapea huippuyksikköpolitiikka voi mennä muutenkin pahasti metsään. Sen toimintamallien tuloksena Suomeen ei ole kehittynyt kannustavaa arviointitapaa, joka tukisi laaja-alaista kansallista tutkimusrintamaa.”

Re-think higher education strategy for 2020/2030.
(Oivallus-hanke/EK 8.2. 2011)

“It is beyond comprehension to see that nothing is being done to stop this: a clear majority of researchers and teachers in our universities see the present management model as a nightmare, disaster and a floppy (see the recent review by Tieteentekijät ja Professoriliitto and the article by J.P. Roos in Tieteessä tapahtuu 6/2010, ss. 43-46).”

Click to access Keskustelupaperi_Nyman_Final.pdf

Not only criticism but also new and fresh ideas and thinking:

Millaista korkeakoulupolitiikkaa Suomi tarvitsee: Elinvoimainen korkeakoulupolitiikka koko maan hyvksi (26.4. 2016 Image, together with prof. Markku Wilenius)

Here we outline a novel, higher education model built on the strength of geographically local but also global networking principles. Its aim is to guarantee a distributed, wide-spectrum cultural, scientific and economical vitality in Finland.

Perceptions of the network capital of a small country (26.3. 2016 Finnishnews)

A widely distributed university system has a significant national impact if it lives on the following two simple principles in its research, education and local interaction.”

Päätöksenteon, innovaatioiden ja oppimisen tulevaisuus. (Kanava 23.10. 2015 yhdessä Timo Hämäläisen kanssa)

“Uudet oivallukset, tieteelliset läpimurrot ja radikaalit innovaatiot syntyvät yhä useammin usean eri alan tietojen luovista yhdistelmistä. Tämä edellyttää tiivistä vuorovaikutusta toisiaan täydentävien alojen asiantuntijoiden kesken. Debatin sijaan tarvitaan dialogia, analyysien oheen eri tiedonaloja yhdisteleviä synteesejä.”

What are we good for: Challenges of education in Finland (Radical renovation of education, together with Markku Wilenius, report to Sitra, not published 1.8. 2014)

Siiloutunut Suomi voisi oppia Piilaakson yhteistyöstä (Ossi Kuittisen ja Markku Wileniuksen kanssa, Te 22.4. 2013)

Ecosystems of Triple Collaboration (Helice Vol. 2. Issue 3.)

“Guidelines for collaboration project, 1-7,

  1. Establish firm economical and spiritual ground for basic research that is not threatened by economically successful external partnering activities. This is an absolute demand. Applied research can and must make profits relatively fast. Its economical and human time constants are significantly shorter than in ambitious basic research …2. …7.

University-Business-Government Collaboration: From institutes to platforms and ecosystems

Triple Helix J. 2 (2015) Springer.

” Experiences and learning lessons from small-scale, university-business-government collaboration cases are described and used as supporting knowledge for the hypothetical, bottom-up type of collaboration model.”

Professori arvostelee: Aalto-yliopisto unohti yritykset. (Te 12.10. 2011)
”Yritysjohtajat ja ulkopuoliset jäsenet eivät mitenkään pysty näkemään, mitä yliopistolla tapahtuu”, Nyman sanoo. ”He ostavat hallintobyrokraattien retoriikan, koska eivät oikeasti tunne tieteen tekemistä.”






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