Professor Wolfgang Faigle, Vice Rector for Research and International Relations in Stuttgart Media University (HdM Stuttgart), visited Metropolia in March 2015 as a guest lecturer for Metropolia’s media engineering courses. His visits to Metropolia (earlier EVTEK) have a long tradition of 20 years. During that time, Metropolia and HdM Stuttgart have built a solid partnership.
The co-operation began in the the early 1990s when Seija Ristimäki from EVTEK (currently a project leader in Metropolia) created a network of European universities teaching printing technology. Later, in the early 2000s, both EVTEK and HdM took part in another EU-funded project, the aim of which was to design a common Master's programme in printing technology between roughly ten European partners. The curriculum was completed, but unfortunately the programme could not be imple-mented due to practical problems.
Along with these projects a very successful and long-lasting student and teacher exchange between the two universities developed, starting in 1993 with three Finnish students visiting HdM. Professor Faigle’s first lectures at EVTEK were held in 1995.
“I taught a bit and learned a lot, about Finland, about EVTEK, about the Finnish ap-proach to academic teaching. Soon the first German exchange students went to Es-poo; their reports and their stories about their stay at EVTEK were so enthusiastic that Espoo has become one of the most popular destinations for our students."
"More visits followed, and so I learned more and more about this great country in the far North. Seija and her co-workers helped us to arrange a long study tour to Finland for HdM students, we performed some more common research projects, and it is fair to say that the partnership between EVTEK and HdM has become one of the most important and most stable of all of HdM’s”, tells Professor Faigle about the common history of the two Universities of Applied Sciences.
The field of media has seen several remarkable changes during the last few decades; fast development of digitalization and new media techniques which enable media industries to be connected worldwide and to exchange huge amounts of data within seconds.
“The education for future media specialists had to keep pace with the technical, economical and social developments, and it did. This also means that it expanded to new fields. On the other hand, media education made use of these new techniques itself, and so the development of technology and of teaching proceeded hand in hand”, says Professor Faigle.
Printing partially has lost the importance it once had. However, experience has shown that new media techniques never replaced older ones, but were additional. Professor Faigle believes in the future of printing:
“There will always be a certain need of and a market for printed products and, hence, a demand for a carefully trained and also for an academically educated workforce. This demand may be smaller as it used to be, and perhaps too small to sustain a complete programme of studies in a single country. The only way out of this dilemma is international co-operation.”
According to Prof. Faigle there are certain skills that future media students and graduates should acquire:
“A media expert of the years to come must have at least a basic knowledge of all media, and about the communication between these. They must be able to adapt to developments we currently can’t even imagine which requires a good knowledge of the underlying science."
During the past 20 years Professor Faigle has learned many things about Finland, everything from sports to architecture and to politics. When it comes to education, he thinks that the differences between Germany and Finland are small.
“As far as the academic education is concerned, not very much (differences), I think. Structure, developments and problems in my eyes are largely the same, as is the distinction between the tasks of Universities and of Universities of Applied Sciences."
"The German school system is rather complicated and offers a lot of possible paths. Anyway, when the first “Pisa” studies were published and Finland ranked ways ahead of Germany, many German politicians travelled to Finland to learn why they are doing better”, admits Professor Faigle.
He still remembers warmly the first visit to EVTEK back in 1995.
“It was a really exciting experience, positive in every respect. I was received extremely friendly, everything was perfect. I’m looking forward to continue, improve and expand the co-operation between Metropolia and HdM. But, please, don’t misunderstand me: not because it’s a matter of necessity, but because we made friends during the last decades. The rest evolves automatically.”
Wolfgang Faigle graduated and received his PhD in chemistry. His professional career includes scientific journalism and work for several state agencies and authorities, including the Ministry for the Envi-ronment of the German state of Baden-Wuerttemberg. He joined Stuttgart Media University in 1991 as a professor for chemistry, materials science, environmental protection, and health and safety at work; currently he is Vice Rector for Research and International Relations. He has received two honorary Professorships: one in Obuda University and the second in Technological Educational Institute of Athens.