University of Helsinki launches a change programme to adjust its finances

The upcoming Government cuts in university funding require the University of Helsinki to launch adjustment measures in its operations and actively seek new sources of funding. This adjustment cannot be implemented without reducing the number of staff.

In its meeting on 16 September 2015, the Board of the University of Helsinki discussed the impact of the Government programme on the University’s finances and the measures required by the situation. The University has calculated that the cuts it will suffer annually will reach 106 million euros by the end of the term of Sipilä’s Government in 2019–2020. This represents 15% of the University’s total income. The University’s core funding will be cut by 20% (93 million euros). The ultimate need for adjustment measures is affected by the University’s success in acquiring new forms of income and the revocation or continuation of the pharmacy compensation received by the University. The annual impact of the pharmacy compensation is 29 million euros.

The University Board decided to launch a change programme with the aim of saving 86 million euros. This means that cooperation procedures involving the entire University staff will be initiated in order to reduce the number of personnel by 1,200 by 2020. This number is based on calculations that take into account the above potential additional cut targeting the University of Helsinki, i.e., the revocation of the pharmacy compensation.

Besides the measures to reduce personnel costs, the extensive change programme includes a number of other savings targets, reforms and means to acquire new forms of income.  The measures contained in the change programme will be integrated into the University’s target programme for 2016 and the strategic plan for the period 2017—2020.

The Board authorised University leadership to take every necessary action to balance the University’s finances.

"Our key objective is to maintain high-quality teaching and research. We are now seeking the best solutions without compromising this objective,” asserts Jaana Husu-Kallio, Chair of the Board of the University of Helsinki.

New forms of income and pruning of expenses

The upcoming change programme will be divided into measures related to the acquisition of funding and to cost-cutting. The necessary actions will be documented into the University’s target programme for 2016 that the Board is scheduled to approve on 15 December 2015. The actions to be taken will be planned in the course of the autumn term.

Rector of the University Helsinki, Jukka Kola, remarks that the world has changed and the University must adapt accordingly.

“In all likelihood, we will see a permanent reduction in the core funding allocated by the Ministry. We must, therefore, pursue new supplementary forms of funding with an open mind,” he says.

The University will seek new revenues by streamlining the application process for international research funding, fundraising and corporate cooperation. Performance will also be improved by better fulfilling the funding criteria set by the Ministry of Education and Culture.

The University will actively apply for the funding earmarked for the Government’s key projects in, e.g., bioeconomy and new learning environments.

The University of Helsinki is preparing to charge tuition fees from students coming from outside the EU and EEA countries.

Efficient facility use and centralised purchases

Savings will be sought by further increasing the efficient use of facilities.  In addition to previously agreed facility-related savings, the University is looking for new ways to relinquish premises.

The University also aims to make considerable savings by continuing to increase the centralising of purchases.

IT costs will be reduced. Moreover, the opportunities offered by each IT project to intensify service production and administrative processes will be considered. 

The aim of the change programme is to safeguard the University’s core activities, ensure the provision of education in the manner agreed upon with the Ministry of Education and Culture as well as ensure that commitments made to external funders are heeded.

The University of Helsinki has a number of ongoing reforms that will now be integrated with the change programme. Such projects include the Helsinki Life Science Centre, other profiling projects and structural reforms.

The objective to rank among the 50 leading universities in the world

Universities and the research sector face great expectations about producing new growth and commercially viable innovations. The impact of research results and the potential for developing business applications will play a greater role in the steering of public funding in the future. Research results and know-how will be in greater demand to support the business sector as well.

“The quality of our research is high even by international standards thanks to our competent and motivated staff, whose wellbeing will be of great concern for us also during the upcoming changes,” emphasises Rector Kola.

“The University of Helsinki wants to retain its position among the leading universities in the world. The impact of our University to the success of the Finnish society at large is undeniable,” he asserts.