Rector Jari Perkiömäki: it is important to foster a sense of community in this exeptional situation

Dear members of the Uniarts Helsinki community and friends of the university,

Last week, Finland entered its biggest crisis situation in the post-war period, and we are now living in an unusual time in Finland, as is everyone all over the world. The Finnish Government has declared a state of emergency, which has led to multiple measures, including the closing of the university facilities until 13 April. In my understanding, it’s fairly unlikely that these exceptional circumstances would be over by mid-April: currently, the epidemic is predicted to reach its peak in May in Finland.

Teaching in Uniarts Helsinki’s facilities has been suspended and will now continue remotely as extensively as possible. In accordance with the joint policies of the Finnish universities, only the most critical functions in the university facilities will be secured, and some of our plans will be realised only after we have resumed our normal lives.

This exceptional situation forces us to endure uncertainty in all areas of society, including in the cultural sector. For example, it’s still uncertain whether many of the cultural events scheduled for the summer can be organised. Unfortunately, the exceptional circumstances mean that there may be delays in students’ academic progress and graduation, even though both teachers and the university and academy management will do everything to keep those to a minimum.

It seems that not all Finns are yet aware of the severity of the epidemic; after all, the number of cases in Finland is still relatively low. In order for our health care system to be able to overcome this enormous upcoming challenge, it’s crucial that we follow the instructions and restrictions issued by the authorities so that we eventually can resume our daily lives as smoothly as possible.

We at Uniarts Helsinki are committed to taking a responsible approach in the matter and will minimise all social contacts. According to the latest information, up to 20% of the people who carry the coronavirus have no symptoms, which means that they don’t necessarily know that they can infect others.

I’d like to thank our students, teachers and other staff members for the creativity and flexibility that they’ve shown under these exceptional circumstances. It’s truly a joy to notice that in a matter of days, we’ve managed to switch over to remote learning, teaching and working on such a large scale.

It has been agreed by the Finnish universities and at Uniarts Helsinki’s academies that the entrance examinations taking place in the spring will for the most part be arranged digitally. For the time being, there isn’t a need to postpone them until after the summer. We are currently preparing more detailed instructions of the university and making practical arrangements ahead of the entrance examinations.

The situation in the Uusimaa Region of Southern Finland is serious when it comes to the spreading of coronavirus, and it may be that restrictions on free movement are imposed already this week. I hope that despite this situation, we could foster a sense of community and understand the value of human communication also in digital environments.

I wish you all a safe rest of the week!

Jari Perkiömäki