The University of Helsinki terminates 570 employees, overall staff cuts total 980

The number of University staff will reduce by approximately 980 by the end of 2017. In addition, the University will reorganise and incorporate certain operations.

On 27 January 2016, the University of Helsinki issued the second part of the employer’s report on the decisions under consideration on the basis of the cooperation negotiations. Rector Jukka Kola says that staff cuts are unavoidable because of the rapid and dramatic reduction in funding.

“The University of Helsinki’s rise in rankings among the leading research universities in the world would not have been possible without professional and committed employees. I am deeply sorry that we are forced to let go of competent staff members.”

The need for cost-cutting will amount to 106 million euros annually by the end of the term of Prime Minister Juha Sipilä’s Government in 2019–2020. Almost half of this sum must be saved during the current year. Staff costs make up about two-thirds of the University’s total expenses.

Terminations targeted at non-academic staff

As the University of Helsinki’s primary objective is to ensure continued high-quality teaching and research, the staff cuts will mainly be targeted at staff other than teaching and research staff.

The overall number of staff will reduce by approximately 980 by the end of 2017. The University estimates that of these 980, terminations will account for 570. Of the employees to be terminated, 75 will represent teaching and research staff and 495 other staff.

The number of fixed-term positions is expected to reduce by 210 by 2020. Of these, 160 are teaching and research positions and 50 other (non-academic) positions.

By the end of 2017, 200 employees will retire from positions which will not be filled after their retirement. Of these, 60 are teaching and research positions and 140 other (non-academic) positions.

The terminations will be carried out during spring 2016. The current investigation concerning the national distribution of duties between universities may lead to further terminations later.

The University of Helsinki has made adjustments to its operations also before the current decisions. In the past five years, the number of staff has decreased by some 500, most of whom have been non-academic staff.

The University will offer its staff support sessions to cope with change and coaching in job searching.

Continuing education to be incorporated and other operations to be centralised

The University of Helsinki has considered a broad range of options for financial adjustment. One of the major reforms planned is the incorporation of previously dispersed administrative services into the new University Services organisation. The purpose is to remove overlaps and increase cost-efficiency. Administrative staff will also be provided with opportunities for job rotation and the improvement of competence. The first part of the employer’s report, focused on the reorganisation of administration, was published on 12 January.

The University of Helsinki’s continuing education will be converted into a separate company, which will centrally manage all of the University’s continuing education and possibly also education export. The conversion of the Centre for Properties and Facilities into a separate company will also be considered. The aim is to reduce the facilities the University uses by at least 80,000 m2 by 2020.

Laboratory staff will be concentrated into staff pools. The primary purpose of these staff pools is to ensure continuity for skilled staff and to make it easier for them to flexibly change positions within the University. IT duties will be increasingly centralised. The University will investigate opportunities to intensify cooperation with Aalto University in the provision of IT services.  

In addition, other operations will be reorganised in an appropriate and cost-efficient manner.

More savings will be sought through the national distribution of duties between universities, increased service cooperation with other institutions of higher education and the internal reorganisation of operations. In 2016 the University will also examine its faculty and education structures.

Staff suggestions will save millions

The University’s various units had already adjusted their operations before the cooperation negotiations began. These savings will annually cover approximately 20 million euros of the funding deficit.

The reduction of facilities, the centralisation of procurement and other cost-cutting measures as well as the achievement of a higher level of competitive funding are expected to result in some 20 million euros per year. The University has also launched a fundraising campaign, which the University hopes will interest private donors as well.

Rector Kola is grateful to members of the University community for their active efforts to generate ideas for savings and new means of funding. In autumn 2015, members of the University community submitted new suggestions for cutting costs, which will help the University save up to 10 million euros each year. In terms of staff costs, this corresponds to 170 jobs.