Jukka Kola, rector of the University of Helsinki, demands that the Finnish Government refrain from further cuts to university funding.
“Funding research and education is an investment in the future. It strengthens Finland’s ability to compete internationally. Basic research maintains an environment for innovations, and must not be neglected because of economic trends,” Kola emphasises.
Sweden and Denmark have chosen different paths from Finland. They have increased direct budget funding to universities during this decade.
Rector Kola calls for more drastic solutions and efficient targeted measures from the Finnish Government instead of frequent small cuts.
“There isn’t enough funding to go around for all 15 universities, 6 university consortia, 26 universities of applied sciences and more than 10 governmental research agencies.”
Rector Kola proposes that a national quality evaluation and comparison be conducted in Finland, and budget funding divided according to the quality of each educational institution.
Universities have lost 200 million euros
Jukka Kola reminds the Finnish Government that university funding has been significantly reduced in recent years due to the university index being cut and frozen.
“The index cuts may appear to be one-time measures, but they are anything but, as they also impact funding for the coming years. During the past four years, the University of Helsinki alone has lost €46 million and universities overall €200 million. Meanwhile, we’ve had to reduce our staff by approximately 500 employees, although we have been lucky enough to avoid layoffs.”
“It is obvious that such cuts are a threat to the quality of Finnish research and teaching. Universities train experts for all fields, so the impact will be widely felt in our society. Additionally, we will not be able to acquire crucial research equipment,” Kola points out.
When the new Universities Act took effect in 2010, universities’ budget funding was tied to an index. The intention of the university index was to keep university funding up to date so that it would always correspond with the general rise in costs. The Government has, however, broken this law on two separate occasions by cutting or freezing the index.