Previous Fora / 2011


Chancellor Kari Raivio completed his medical training at the Faculty of Medicine of the University of Helsinki, where he also earned his Ph.D. degree in 1969. After three years as a postdoctoral researcher at the University of California, San Diego, he went on to specialize in pediatrics and neonatology, and was appointed Professor of Perinatal Medicine at the University of Helsinki and Head of the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit of the University Central Hospital in 1982. In 1991-92 he was Visiting Professor at WashingtonUniversity in St.Louis. He was elected Dean of the Faculty of Medicine in 1994 and served as Rector (Vice-Chancellor) of the University of Helsinki in 1996 - 2003. Thereafter he was appointed Chancellor of the University of Helsinki, becoming Chancellor Emeritus in 2008.
Chancellor Raivio´s main research topics have been in purine metabolism, xanthine oxidoreductase and production of oxygen radicals, organ damage by oxygen radicals, ontogenesis of antioxidant enzymes, and clinical studies on newborn infants. He has been active internationally as President of European Association of Perinatal Medicine and European Society for Pediatric Research. He has extensive experience in medical publication, as European Chief Editor of Pediatric Research, Editor-in-Chief of the major Finnish medical journal Duodecim, and a member of the Editorial Board of several international journals.
Chancellor Raivio is Past President of the Finnish Academy of Sciences and Letters and the Delegation of Finnish Academies. He was a member of International Council for Science´s (ICSU) Committee for Scientific Planning and Review 2005-08 and its Chair as Vice President for ICSU 2009-2011.
Chancellor Raivio´s experience in university affairs has been exploited in an advisory role by the governments of Sweden and Singapore, and the universities of Tokyo and Lund. He was Chair of the Board of Directors of the League of European Research Universities (LERU) in 2005-08.




12:00-13:30 17 NOVEMBER

Capacity Building in Education – can small countries compete?

Science and technology development depend on more and more highly educated researchers and skilled workforce. Since no country is inherently more talented than others,    the quality and cost-efficient functioning of the education chain, from preschool to higher education and doctoral training, are crucial for building the capacity of nations to improve their economy and the quality of life of their citizens. The return of public investment in education has been quantified in economic terms, and it amply justifies increased budget expenditure for most countries. The benefits for the individual are not only economic (higher lifetime earnings, less risk of unemployment), but can also be shown in greater satisfaction with life, more active civic engagement, and better personal health. However, the premium will decrease with time as the general level of education increases, and so will the advantage of developed countries over the less-developed world, which is largely due to educational attainment.
Education, as well as research, development, and innovation, require financial input, but this is not directly correlated with the outcome. The Nordic countries have developed their own economic model, characterized by a comprehensive welfare state, high taxes, and high investment in human capital (child care, education, R&D). Their performance compares very favorably with any other country in the world, both in economic terms (GDP per capita, employment, productivity, public finances, macroeconomic balance, number of scientific publications and patents) and in several ranking lists (competitiveness, innovation, information technology, low corruption, environmental sustainability). They also rank highly in most social indicators (universal safety nets, small income differentials, excellent public health, high educational attainment, happiness surveys).
Universities play a key role in the education chain, not only because they are responsible for higher education and research, but also because they train teachers for all other levels, in Finland including also preschool, where teachers have a Master´s degree. This, plus the fact that primary and secondary schools are all-inclusive for each age cohort, has been considered the reason why Finland consistently scores highest in the international PISA-comparison of 14-15 –year old youngsters. There is also a traditional respect for schools and teachers, which certainly is not dependent on high salaries.
Chinese universities currently graduate more students annually than the whole population of Finland. There, as in many other less-developed countries, the respect for education is high and the quality is improving all the time. It is clear that the only strategy for a small country is not to rest on its laurels, but to engage in active research and development of its educational system. Although many small countries (the Nordics, Switzerland, Israel, Netherlands) rank very highly in scientific performance, they do so only on a per capita basis, and their combined output represents a small fraction of global science. The key to success in science is to concentrate efforts in selected areas, where optimal external conditions (facilities, infrastructure, subjects of study) and competent researchers coexist. Covering the whole breadth of science is best left to larger countries with a larger total, not per capita investment.