In the run-up to the parliamentary election, Rector Lindblom highlighted in her speech how Finland will face both global and domestic challenges simultaneously in the next government term.
“The bottlenecks hindering Finland’s success include the reduction of the labour force and a stagnating educational level, as well as the resulting labour shortage and the trend of modest improvements in productivity seen in recent years,” she noted.
Rector Lindblom pointed out that the solutions to and solvers of future challenges are found in universities.
“Finland’s success has been founded on top-level expertise and research, and so will it continue to be. We universities are creators of hope and drivers of societal change. We need political consensus and the will to make the necessary decisions to stabilise the resources allocated to research and science.”
Four measures to ensure Finland’s success
Lindblom listed four things that must happen to enable universities and higher education institutions to make a crucial difference to the wellbeing and success of our country.
“First, the number of student places at higher education institutions must be considerably increased, and this added intake must be fully and permanently funded. The need for increased intake, to the tune of thousands of student places, is most prominent in the Uusimaa region. As a result, we are continuously losing young people who leave to study abroad and elsewhere in Finland. For the same reason, we are unable to attract talented young people from around the world to study and work in Finland. This requires correction.”
As the second area, Lindblom highlighted the funding allocated by the government to research, development and innovation.
“At least half of RDI funding should be allocated to publicly funded research, supporting, among others, universities and universities of applied sciences, the Academy of Finland and, directly, the innovation operations of universities,” she stated.
The third issue is the need to reform research legislation, particularly in the field of medical research, so that it does not unnecessarily hamper the conduct of research and RDI activities.
“Finally, and perhaps most importantly, we need a much more ambitious approach to science policy. For us to succeed in continually intensifying international competition, we need help from the government and society. We need state-of-the-art competence clusters and a focus on quality,” Lindblom noted.
“With these means, we can ensure that Finland will continue to be a successful and thriving country,” she summed up.
As an example, Lindblom pointed to the innovation activities of the University of Helsinki, in whose development significant investments have been made in recent years.
“Top-level research generates innovations only if sufficient resources are provided for research and science. Our research-based innovations advance sustainable growth, create jobs and promote a better society. Increasing funding for research, development and innovation establishes wellbeing for all of us.”
Rector Sari Lindblom's speech on 27 March at the anniversary celebration of the University of Helsinki