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Mauri Ylä-Kotola

Mauri Tapani Ylä-Kotola
Born September 18, 1971, Mikkeli

Master of Arts 1996, Licentiate 1996 PhD 1998 (theoretical philosophy), University of Helsinki

Rector, University of Lapland 2006–
Rector, 2006–06, Academy of Fine Arts
Dean, 1999–05, University of Lapland Faculty of Art
Professor of media science 1997–, University of Lapland Faculty of Art (leave of absence 2005–)
Lecturer in art and media and communications studies 1996–97, University of Lapland

Positions of responsibility:
Board member 1999–2003, European Master in Multimedia and Audiovisual Business Administration (EMMABA)
Vice-chairman 2005–, European Institute for a Sustainable Information Society
Board member, 2003–, CITI Media Lab, New University of Lisbon
Chairman of the Lapland Regional fund 2007–13, Finnish Cultural Foundation
Chairman 2007–13, FinELib, National Digital Library
Chairman 2008–11, European Master in Art and Culture Management (EMACIM)
Chairman 2009–12, Lapin Elämystuotanto Osakeyhtiö
Chairman 2010–, Särestöniemi Museum Foundation
Board member 2010–, Seppo Säynäjäkankaan tiedesäätiö (science foundation)
Vice-chairman 2012–, The Fine Arts Academy of Finland
Board member 2013–, Lapinmaan kiinteistöyhtiö
Chairman 2013–, Rovalan setlementti (local settlement )
Chairman 2013–, Rovalan Kiinteistöyhtiö

Selected publications:
Mitä on mediatiede? (‘What is media science?’), University of Lapland 1999.
Mediakasvatus simulaatiokulttuurissa (’Media education in a simulation culture,’ together with Juha Suoranta) WSOY 2000
The Integrated Media Machine I–IV (published as a tetralogy) EDITA 2000–2004
“Morphological Idealism, Kant and Historical Senses”, in I. Kant and M. Bakhtin: Perpetual Peace and Dialogue. Murmansk State Humanities University 2014.

Selected work of art:
The radio opera Takaisin Xanaduun (‘Return to Xanadu’ together with Hannu Puttonen), Radio Theatre, Finnish Broadcasting Company (YLE)

Honorary PhD, Urbana University (Ohio, USA)
Honorary professor, University of Murmansk, 2009 (Russian Federation)

Photo: Arto Litti
Written by Olli Siitonen

Translated by Matthew Billington

The Finnish educational system

Professor Mauri Ylä-Kotola, long-time rector of the University of Lapland, is not surprised by the present government’s education policies.

“I take a long-term view of government policy, and in my view we have had the same thing from every previous cabinet.”

Professor Ylä-Kotola sees quality of research as a vital benchmark, but he is also opposed to the centralisation of education. In Europe universities are often concentrated in capital cities, but in the United States campus thinking is also popular.

“For example the Ivy League universities Dartmouth and Cornell are pretty much in the middle of nowhere.”

In Finland higher education policy is too often based on preconceived notions, says Professor Ylä-Kotola.

“It is difficult to see how the Confederation of Finnish Industries, often such a fan of the US, can propose a model with just a few giant universities without justifying their arguments in any way. I may be speaking as something of a zealous convert, but I think we should preserve the diversity of our higher education sector.

Photo: Ilkka Ruuska.

Professor Ylä-Kotola points out that the current discussion on expedited graduation and narrow degree programmes could benefit from a look at the careers of current leaders in business and culture, and how they do not exactly align with that narrative. Successful people have seldom rushed through their studies.

“A plus for the Finnish system is that it provides opportunities for people who, by some criteria, might be considered of mediocre talent. Our educational system also enables members of the lower classes to study at university. On the other hand, differences in people’s aptitude aren’t that large. Upper class people will always find a way, and their world is full of options, such as buying a degree from a foreign institution or hiring a private tutor.

This talk of classes and mediocre talents might make many uncomfortable, but that does not diminish its importance. Professor Ylä-Kotola feels it is precisely the middle-of-the-road talents that the system should focus on educating. The wealthy and the gifted will find their own paths. Equal access to education ought to be everyone’s common goal.

“Most captains of industry aren’t scions of the upper classes either; even at the Confederation of Finnish Industries, they are children of the egalitarian Finnish system.

Photo: Arto Liiti.


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