During the past five years, the University of Helsinki has doubled its number of international teachers and researchers. For example, the number of doctoral students has grown from 132 to 454 during 2010–2014. Already a third of all doctoral students and post-doctoral researchers are from outside Finland.
This is a positive trend, but also one that comes with pressure: we have to keep improving.
“Recruitment at an international scale is a crucial factor for our success,” says Rector Jukka Kola.
Potential candidates are identified at the faculties
The University has established a tenure track for research and teaching staff to promote internationalisation. Its purpose is to make the academic career more predictable, competitive and attractive.
The goal is always to find the most talented and motivated people for the job. They may come from Finland or elsewhere, but the competition in the academic world is nevertheless international and intense.
“The initial talent scouting, if you will, is conducted by colleagues in the units and faculties. We are continuously on the lookout, and we have established official committees for the purpose as well,” the rector says.
The path starts out broad and wide
The rector also makes sure that the field of tenure track positions is sufficiently broadly defined so that top researchers become interested in the University of Helsinki and are able to to find their place there.
“In the career path system, you can apply for a professorship at the same time as a tenure-track assistant professorship, meaning that there are positions for both junior and fully established researchers," he states.
Now, at the beginning of August, this is still new.
Science is international – and so are the research environments
In addition to the tenure track, the University is investing in research environments of an international standard. That means more researchers, more data, more materials, more equipment and more money.
Many consider the European Space Agency, the European Organization for Nuclear Research CERN and the Integrated Carbon Observation System Research Infrastructure household names, but may not realise the major contribution that Finnish researchers are making in these environments.
For example, Academy Professor Markku Kulmala, who specialises in atmospheric particulates, has been the most cited researcher in the geosciences since 2011, and he has collected a very interesting professional community with the materials he has gathered over the decades. His research group features frequently in Science and Nature.
“If the 400-million–euro budget cuts suggested by the Government are carried out, it will paralyse Finnish academia, including the strong and established scientific work done on large shared infrastructures,” Kola says.
“But we have no intention of pulling out of international projects or shared research infrastructures. Quite the contrary!”
The rector's new instructions on recruitment took effect on 1 August 2015.
International research infrastructures involving University researchers can be found in the Tuhat database.