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Chemists congregate in Helsinki
Famous chemists literally came face-to-face last weekend at the European Chemistry Thematic Network Association's (ECTNA) chemistry higher education congress in Helsinki. This time, there were around 200 participants from 167 universities as well as a few visitors from the United States and Canada.
The annual congress has become an important forum not only for maintaining relations but also for developing higher education chemistry teaching as well as for monitoring the Bologna process.
"We've mainly been deliberating on the chemical industry's future needs. The industry is undergoing profound change, such as with nanotechnology, and this has to be anticipated in teaching; new guidelines have to be set out now," says Professor Kristiina Wähälä from the Department of Chemistry at the University of Helsinki who was responsible for arranging the congress.
The stress on the content of chemistry courses is shaped by the latest needs of the chemical industry as well as by the new European qualification structure and the expanding international student exchange programme that goes with it.
The Mundus programme exchange students who spoke at the congress shed light on this aspect - both the applicability of courses for one's degree as well as cultural and educational differences.
"The various exchanges through the Bologna agreement can be applied in the future to our own chemistry degrees right from the outset of studies."
Further important themes were the European quality and assessment systems for chemistry teaching.
"Unlike some other European countries, Finland doesn't yet have a quality assessment system for specific subjects. But we're participating in a special quality system where an impartial committee grants the European quality stamp to qualifications from institutes of higher education that come in line with the new degree system."
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Text: Kai Maksimainen
Photo: Wilma Hurskainen
Translation: AAC Noodi Oy
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