Kaarlo Hildén at the opening of the academic year: Undermining international cooperation also undermines the standard of research and art

The University of the Arts celebrated its 10th anniversary at the opening of the academic year on Friday, September 22. Rector Kaarlo Hildén stated in his opening speech that fostering internationality is important for the University of the Arts. In ten years, the University of the Arts has grown into an international pioneer in education and research in the arts, which increasingly attracts top talent from abroad as well.

“Each barrier set as a hindrance of recruiting the best students and experts to our higher education institutions lowers the standard of Finnish art, science and competence and diminishes the country’s competitive edge. The challenges of immigration must be taken seriously, but the fact that we cannot make it on our own here must be taken at least equally seriously”, Rector Kaarlo Hildén pointed out in his speech at the opening of the academic year, referring to The Finnish Government’s plans to strict policies concerning immigration and annual tuition fees.   

We need innovations and art so that Finland and the entire humanity could have a bright future 

The Finnish government parties agree that Finland’s research, development and innovation (RDI) expenditure must be increased to 4 per cent of GDP by 2030. Universities Finland UNIFI has already praised government for investments in research and education.

“We need innovations so that Finland, the humanity and the entire planet could have a bright future. This isn’t enough, however, if we expect that technology-based RDI activities solve all our challenges. With the help of art, we can imagine futures and create a society that has goals that feel meaningful, resonate with us and lead us to a world that we can and want to help build”, Hildén emphasised. 

In his speech, Hildén also showed his support for the students who took over the University of the Arts on Thursday. Students are demonstrating against the government’s planned cuts to students.

“Students are concerned over their future. Even though financial readjustments are needed, I ask whether it’s right that my taxation will be reduced while students’ conditions will be worse by introducing an index freeze on student financial aid and cuts to housing allowance. In terms of generation equality, it’s not fair or wise that we well-off and middle-aged people secure our livelihood and then leave our children with a deteriorating planet and make cutbacks on their livelihood. My message to the Government is: students must be able to focus on their studies, not on funding their studies. Their competence is the backbone that our country’s future rests on, and it must be taken care of”, Hildén said.