Towards an international operative environment

The university set its targets for 2007–2009.

 Towards an international operative environment The University of Helsinki has fared well in a variety of European comparisons. This has encouraged the university to make every effort to consolidate its position among the best multidisciplinary universities. The key focus area in the forthcoming strategy period continues to be research and development of researcher training.

The operating environment of universities has become noticeably more international. Hence, the competition over research funding, researchers, teachers and students can only become fiercer. In student recruitment, for example, this development is enhanced by harmonising the degree structures in Europe. “Quality has been proved and acknowledged as being our biggest strength. It forms the foundation for our quest to attract foreign researchers and students,” says Ilkka Niiniluoto, Rector of the University of Helsinki.

However, there is also pressure for national-level development. These pressures are often conflicting. “The government has stated that research and science-based competencies are the best trump card Finland has, yet the message from the same source is that the work should be done with fewer people and smaller resources,” Niiniluoto muses.

As a response, the University strategy acknowledges its responsibility towards society but says that the best results can only be achieved if it manages its own affairs. The pursuit of knowledge and truth is still the leading value for the university, and this requires creativity and criticism. These, in turn, cannot thrive without the autonomy of the university. “The strategy is also a defence for knowledge and education against today’s heightened faith in economic and productivity indicators.”

The most important resource of the University is the human one. The key policy in the strategy is investing in the personnel’s well-being at work.
“The pace of change has been fast, and several internal surveys have revealed that we need to pause and think,” says Niiniluoto.
One way of retrieving lost time is to eliminate overlapping bureaucracy. Administration will be centralised and handed over to professionals specialising in it, leaving more time for researchers and teachers to work at their core tasks.

What is new in the next three-year period, 2007–2009, is that that number of sub-strategies, which has grown to twenty, will now be covered by four, more comprehensive action plans. In the course of 2006, the university will draw up a staff policy programme, a research policy programme, a development programme for teaching and studies as well as one for the administration and support services.

The highest decision-making organ of the University, the Senate, accepted the University strategy for 2007–2009 on 18 January 2006.

Text: Mikael Alatalo
Photo: Veikko Somerpuro

Translation: Valtasana Oy

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