New rector urges universities to launch structural reforms

Jukka Kola, the new rector of the University of Helsinki, encourages Finnish universities to intensify their cooperation. He wishes to draw attention to the question of how the 15 universities in Finland should plan and build their future.

Jukka Kola urges the universities to examine various paths to success in order to secure the nation’s future.

“Inevitably, we must address the demands and opportunities brought about by structural development. Genuine structural reforms must be made, not only in the name of the universities themselves, but in the name of the Finnish economy, competitiveness and education,” stressed Kola in his speech at the opening ceremony of the academic year.

Kola warns the universities that handling these matters incompetently would lead to handing over the task of carrying out the reform, along with their autonomy, to others, for example, to the Ministry of Education and Culture, not to mention the Ministry of Finance.

“Discussions and cooperation with the ministries need, of course, to continue, but the results must be more explicit and concrete than what we have seen so far. Working groups settling for compromises are not the solution in situations demanding reforms,” he points out.

Kola encourages universities to recognise their competitive edges and areas of emphasis in research and teaching. The University of Helsinki is the only Finnish university to rank among the leading 100 universities in the world.

”Do Finnish universities have the initiative to undertake a true reform, a structural reform that will help us meet the challenges of international competition?” Kola inquires.

He sees a great and continuous need for reform both inside and between universities. Kola would also reorganise research institutes outside the universities, government research institutes in particular.

Rector Kola is ready to launch reforms in his own university. He reminds his listeners that in 2010, in connection with the Finnish university reform, the University of Helsinki implemented a structural reorganisation significant by national standards, when it reduced the number of its departments from 75 to 24. Nevertheless, the new rector recommends that the University reassess the number of its units that can currently be found in its 15 locations around Finland, from Hanko in the south to Kilpisjärvi in the north.