The new Finnish government cuts university funding by around 500 million € (or not?)

500 Mio. Euros cut for universities

The text below is a translation of an article from the Acatiimi magazine:
UPDATE: It appears though, that some of the party representatives that were the source of the information in this article have not been reflecting the official positions of their respective parties (in other words: they were talking BS without having any authorization to do so). In reality, the coming cuts and their sizes are going to be determined only during this coming fall season.

The Government brings additional distress to universities and research
University funding to be cut by around 500 million €.

The government's plan for universities and research doesn't look good. The university index will be frozen, and the "third semester" will be introduced despite diminishing resources. The Academy of Finland's grant pot will be reduced by 10 million € starting from next year. In total, teaching, science, and culture will experience cuts of 681 million €.

The government's goal for the next years is to increase the quality and effectiveness of innovation and research. How can this be realized with shrinking resources and less and less time available for research? asks the chairman of the Union of University Researchers (Tieteentekijöiden Liitto) Petri Koikkalainen (27.5.).

The government intends to implement the so-called "third semester". According to the University Researchers Association, the Union of University Professors and YLL, this requires a clear increase in funding. Prime Minister Juha Sipilä (center) mentioned the "third semester" at the Info event on the government program as part of the "Oppiminen"-project. In the best case, this could mean that the additional teaching might receive also additional funding.

At the launch of the government program, Alexander Stubb (National Coalition Party) commented on the third semester: "So far, there were three reasons to be a professor: June, July and August. This won't be the case anymore".

This was a pretty outrageous, offensive attack on professors. Most professors' annual working hours are hundreds of hours longer compared to workers in general. The summer has been for professors and many other university researchers the only time to focus on research. Students have already the opportunity to study all year long, if they desire to do so and it is already considered normal. In reality, the time that a professor can dedicate to research has been all the time continuously shrinking, Kaarle Hämäri (the Chairman of the Professor's Association) commented on this widely publicized attack.

The government program also seeks to improve the bachelor's degree's relevancy for the labour market. The aim is that a significant proportion of the students enter the labor market after receiving their Bachelor's degree. It seems that for that end, eligibility criteria will be reduced.

According to the cutting plans, Universities of Helsinki and of Eastern Finland as well as Aalto University will loose additionally 30 million € of special funding. However, these cuts require changes in the Universities Act.

In its position paper, YLL (Union for University Teachers and Researchers in Finland) did also criticise, that the planned higher education tuition fees are regarded as part of the government's immigration policy.

Technopolis just released its evaluation of the Finnish higher educational system and one of its central problems appears the low level of internationalisation. Now this low degree of internationalisation is further reduced by government action. According to YLL, the tuition fees additionally won't generate any income for the universities.

Original Finnish text by Kirsti Sintonen; translation by Google, minor fixes by Michael Jeltsch