In difficult times, it is precisely on universities that the important role of building the nation’s future falls. We serve as drivers of societal change, produce new knowledge used to solve problems, and educate experts of the future.
To be able to build a better future, we need a coherent science and education policy, long-term funding and young people eager to learn. Should any of these preconditions be missing, we cannot reach our goals. When all of them are met, both broad-based education and internationally attractive environments will be created, attracting students and researchers as well as businesses. At the same time, we will find answers to the environmental crisis and other challenges.
Let’s together bring about a good future.
For the labour market to have enough skilled people and for students to find employment, at least half of our young people need to complete higher education in the future. At the same time, the quality of higher education must be maintained. For this purpose, we will need, in the next government term, a plan on where to increase opportunities for education and how to fund them.
We propose that we:
A funding plan for raising the education level. Raise the rate of higher education graduates to above 50%. Let’s draw up a funding plan extending to 2035.
Let’s significantly increase degree targets and the number of student places without compromising the quality of education. This means that education providers will be fully compensated for new obligations arising from the expansion of education opportunities.
Establish a quality system for education that enables accreditation.
Ensure that educational opportunities meet subject-specific demands, as well as regional labour market demands. Let’s aim to reduce (degree) education overlap.
Increase the number of student places and degree completion targets, especially in the higher education institutions of the Uusimaa region.
Consider the growing need to attract international students to Finland, for example, by facilitating the residence permit and registration processes of international talent and their family members, and by investing in the employment opportunities. Support the universities own research-based development of university student admissions. Establish a quality system for education that enables accreditation.
Support regional collaboration between Finnish universities and universities of applied sciences under the dual model.
Respond to the needs for change in higher education.
Increase the flexibility of education: let’s enable European joint degrees, widen the scope of degree education and streamline the procedure for granting educational responsibilities to institutions.
Expand the funding base for continuous learning by agreeing on how the funding responsibility is shared between employers, society and students.
Continue the Digivision 2030 project to make the educational offerings of higher education institutions more widely available to individuals and society.
Both public and private research, development and innovation activities must be steered onto an upward trajectory towards the target level of 4% of the GDP. The significance of the largest cities and the Uusimaa region as drivers of RDI and national competitiveness must be recognised.
We propose that we:
Increase research funding awarded by the Academy of Finland and the core funding of universities. The RDI system should be developed as a balanced whole, the essential element and basis of which is excellent research and education based on it.
Increase the research-driven RDI funding awarded by Business Finland (e.g., R2B, Co-Innovation, Co-Creation funding). This makes it possible to both commercialise research-based innovations more effectively and to significantly increase partnership operations between universities and businesses.
Support the emergence of competitive innovation ecosystems around higher education institutions: An ambitious strategy is needed to bring different actors together around highly funded key themes and to exploit the potential of the metropolitan area to become one of the growing innovation centres in Europe. Business Finland’s activities need to be modified so that it will be able to finance the development of innovation ecosystems in the same way as our international peers.
Allocate additional funding to the commercialisation and incubator operations of Finnish universities. By doing so, we will enhance the capacity of universities to serve as boosters of innovations and research-based business activities, introducing expertise in commercialisation, innovation and entrepreneurship in emerging fields.
When making decisions pertaining to higher education institutions, it is important to distinguish between the objectives of education and science policy. Whereas education policy guarantees the accessibility and quality of higher education throughout the country, science policy is a tool for pursuing excellence. For research-intensive universities to succeed in international competition, science policy requires support.
We propose that we:
Consolidate the current key principles of national science and education policy: investing in free research on the basis of quality, clarifying the strengths of universities through profile-building, concentrating expertise in sufficiently large units, and aiming for the international top in research, including providing the support necessary for doing so.
Allocate funding for science and research on the basis of quality: let’s assemble them into larger entities and support scientifically strong units in their competition in international fields of scholarship. Let’s strengthen the autonomy of Finnish universities through capitalisation.
Invest in the maintenance and development of globally top-level research infrastructures by substantially increasing their level of funding.
Finland will make an increasingly active contribution to the drafting of the European Union’s research policy, and the development of the EU’s research and education areas.
Legislation pertaining to research must be updated and reformed. At the moment, our legislative solutions and strict national interpretations of EU regulation hinder research. The drafting of research legislation requires broad-based expertise and cooperation between different sectors. We need more structures in support of interaction and science advice.
We propose that we:
Rapidly determine the problems hindering research related to the Act on Secondary Use of Health and Social Data and data protection legislation and make any necessary amendments to the legislation.
To ensure fit-for-purpose research legislation and support the drafting of legislation, establish a body known as research legislation council that will serve as a forum for expert discussion and preparatory work, bridging public administration and the research field.
Establish a high-profile science and research panel or several panels to support decision-making by the Finnish government. Let’s utilise the expertise of researchers from various fields particularly in support of legislative development and as part of crisis preparedness plans.
We propose that:
INDEX: The university index will be preserved.
RAISING THE EDUCATIONAL LEVEL: Raising the level of education rate requires the strengthening of educational resources, for which a funding plan extending to 2035 will be drawn up. The new duties of higher education institutions must be compensated with either public funds or other means to ensure the quality of education and the coping of the staff.
RDI-FUNDING: The government will commit to achieving the target level of 4% of the GDP for RDI funding, ensuring the long-term nature of RDI funding and the required raise in euros, which amounts to approximately 1.3% of the GDP.
The attractiveness of our academic community should be boosted by significantly increasing the funding for the maintenance and development of globally top-level research infrastructures.
The Finnish funding base is a central prerequisite for securing international research funding for the country. The government will commit to covering the national contribution of EU programmes in such a way that Finnish actors have the opportunity to effectively utilise and compete for EU funding instruments.
Funding of university hospitals is ensured: The level of the University Hospital additional allowance is set so that the University Hospital’s research, education and development activities can continue to be ensured in Uusimaa (HUS) as well.
When reforming the funding model for universities, it should be ensured that the model optimally supports the objectives of science policy and responds to the needs for change in higher education. The model will be assessed before any changes are drafted.
Let’s increase the autonomy of research and universities as well as the impact of core and external funding by reducing the number of projects and the fragmentation of funding.
To replace the detailed project-based steering of Finnish universities, a more long-term method of dialogue extending across individual government terms will be created.
The share of strategic funding from core funding will be considerably reduced in the funding model for Finnish universities.
Society cannot afford to lose a single young person; everyone must be included. We must not forget the increasing number of mental health problems or the wellbeing and learning deficit caused by the COVID-pandemic.
Let’s support higher education institutions in their efforts to support students by ensuring the quality of education and studies as well as sufficient resources for advice, guidance and supervision services.
Let’s invest in making guidance increasingly effective and developing learning skills by continuing project funding initiated in the pandemic.
Let’s guarantee students conditions (including studio-ocial benefits) that allow for a focus on studies, smooth graduation and transition to work.