Our message for the government budget talks: Free research and high-quality education that support the renewal of society are key elements of structural change.
Finnish society faces major changes: demographic trends, transformation of work , the demands of sustainable development and the consequences of a protracted coronavirus crisis require rapid renewal from us. In the government budget talks this autumn, the government must tap into the great potential that groundbreaking, free research and high-quality education offer for promoting structural change, say Universities Finland (Unifi), the Finnish Union of University Researchers and Teachers (FUURT), the Finnish Union of University Professors, the Union for University Teachers and Researchers in Finland (YLL), the Trade Union of Education (OAJ) and Finnish Education Employers.
- The present Government Programme, favourable for research and education, builds an excellent foundation for the future of Finland. However, as a consequence of the coronavirus crisis, we now have to deal with a situation in which society is changing rapidly and the need for renewal and adaptation is greater than ever. We cannot wait any longer – we must pursue an ambitious economic policy that invests in sustainable growth.
According to the organisations’ proposal for the budget talks, the Finnish Government should harness research and education and the opportunities they offer for supporting the renewal of society. In this way, the Government can:
- Wisely allocate the resources in the 2021 recovery package. Investments targeting research and education, which contribute to promoting the renewal of Finnish society, business and industry as well as the implementation of structural changes, are a key recovery mechanism.
- Understand the value of researcher-oriented research. By investing in free research, the Government will improve the scientific community’s ability to carry out groundbreaking innovations, which will boost sustainable growth and solutions to wicked problems. What should be avoided is the fragmentation of research funding and an increase in the share of targeted funding. National inputs into free research will also help us secure European research funding, which will further strengthen the positive spiral and support the objectives of the RDI roadmap.
- Secure high-quality extensions to education in the coming years. It is important to increase student intake, and universities have successfully done so to alleviate the present social crisis. In order to raise the share of adults with a higher education degree to 50 per cent by 2030, student intake must continue to be increased annually by thousands. To maintain the quality of teaching, adequate resources must be in place for the additional student places. This will ensure that Finland will retain its reputation for high quality education.
- Responsibly solve the problem related to the decreasing proceeds of Veikkaus. Veikkaus estimates that its proceeds allocated to the Ministry of Education and Culture may decrease by as much as EUR 140 million this year. This decrease must not weaken the conditions for conducting research.
- Ensure universities a predictable operating environment. The academic community takes an optimistic view of the future. We trust that the Government will continue its well-reasoned recovery policy and that no new cuts are to be expected.
Universities Finland, UNIFI
tel. +358 40 1952 037
The Finnish Union of University Researchers and Teachers
tel. +358 040 0874 135
The Finnish Union of University Professors
tel. +358 45 657 5757
The Union for University Teachers and Researchers in Finland, YLL
tel. +358 40 5376 211
Director of Educational Policy
The Trade Union of Education, OAJ
tel. +358 50 528 6682
Finnish Education Employers
tel. +358 41 540 4505