Funding cuts for research institutions jeopardise long-term RDI policy and knowledge-based decision-making

In its April budget debate, the Finnish government decided to cut 150 € million from the public administration, on top of the 243 million euros decided last year. State funding for research institutes will be significantly reduced, jeopardising long-term research, development and innovation policy and knowledge-based decision-making.  

Government research institutes play an important role in national RDI activities and efforts. However, all government research institutes are under severe pressure to make savings as a result of the government’s productivity programme. At the same time as the funding cuts, the government allocated 40 million euros to a four-year programme for research institutes to fund 85 fixed-term postdoc positions. The simultaneous funding cuts and investments are dismantling the foundations of a long-term R&D policy to which the current government parties are also committed.   

Members of the Finnish Association of Academic Researchers (SATY) work in research institutions in a wide range of positions. They want to do their job well, and those in office are also bound by a duty of responsibility. Now, the working conditions of researchers are threatened to deteriorate as the focus of work in research institutes is shifting from long-term research to applying for external funding and working on fixed-term projects.   

SATY is also concerned about the future of knowledge-based decision-making, where research institutions have played an important role. When deciding on the 2024 state budget, the government determined to abolish the joint analysis, assessment and research activities (VN TEAS), coordinated by the Prime Minister’s Office, which was tasked with improving the knowledge base for decision-making and developing new ways of communicating research, foresight and evaluation information to decision-makers and society. With the end of this sectoral analysis and research activity, the role of research institutes as providers of information to support policy-making will become even more important.   

Finland is known worldwide for its uniquely long research registers, largely maintained by research institutes, including population health data and climate and nature observations. If the basic funding of research institutes is cut, decision-makers will have to work with an even more fragile knowledge base in the future. 

 SATY published this statement on June 6, 2024. Read the whole position paper in Finnish here.