Trust in science, research, education and the people behind them
Science and research need sufficient resources and academics need attractive career opportunities
Science and research are the bedrock of learning, world view and education. Science and research are a prerequisite for building a sustainable society and teaching critical thought. Advancements in science and research are only possible in a stable environment where reliable resources are secured.
In the next parliamentary term, growing RDI investments will be allocated evenly: higher institutions’ basic funding, research institutions’ allocations and the Academy of Finland’s resources will all increase. Allocation of funding will avoid fragmentation of the research system and additional funding instruments. Deploying new instruments is a slow method for increasing the impact of research. Reducing the pressure of constant grant applications will raise the quality and sustainability of research.
Research careers will be made more attractive by creating models for doing all doctoral studies under employment contracts. For this purpose, universities’ basic funding will be increased and the progress of doctoral degree holders to other sectors will be supported.
As the performance management of universities is developed, trust will be placed in the universities’ capability to develop autonomously, with a smaller role for the Ministry. Staff well-being will be considered in performance management.
The Universities Act will be amended to assign decisions on a university’s regulations to the university’s representative assembly, thus strengthening the autonomy of the university community and academic freedom. In public-law universities, the representative assembly is the university collegium and, in foundation-based universities, a joint multi-member administrative body (consistory or academic affairs committee).
Broad, accessible higher education is the foundation of Finland’s success
Higher education is an important national task. Quality education is based on research; the same university staff research and teach. With over 60,000 third-level graduates annually, any deficiency in teaching resources is quickly seen at all educational levels and in all specialist professions. The important goals for raising the level of learning and accessibility of education can only be achieved through new investments in higher education.
Universities will not be assigned additional tasks without new funding. Raising student numbers and including international students will be funded in full and permanently. Foreign students’ linguistic integration into Finland and the resources it requires will be taken into consideration during their studies.
The higher education field will be developed with trust for university researchers’ and teachers’ professional skills and views. The “dual model”, which respects the distinct character of both higher education sectors, will be retained.
In developing student intake selection, the institutions’ autonomy and the disciplines’ special circumstances will be respected: there will be no one size for all. In addition, the development of student intake selection will consider, in many dimensions and with a basis in research, educational equality and non-discrimination.
Students’ completion of studies will be improved through new resources which will be devoted to tasks assigned to higher institutions, including open learning environments, digital teaching, multi-professional supervision, lifelong learning, recognition of prior qualifications and accessibility of education.
To achieve the best learning outcomes, the teacher’s right to decide on their teaching methods will be respected.
Academics deserve fairness in employment
Without academics, there would be no science or quality education. Academics’ contribution to the construction of a knowledge-based world view and questions of universal significance must be manifest in employment conditions and in services.
The long-term development of education and research requires permanent employment contracts. The universities will take action towards the goal of reversing the current proportions of 30% of research staff on permanent contracts and 70% on fixed-term contracts. To achieve this, universities’ basic funding will be increased.
To raise the status of grant-funded researchers, a national programme will be devised containing proposals to improve their social security, healthcare and earnings. Tax-free grants will be increased to €30,000.
The Occupational Safety and Health Act will be reformed to take better consideration of harmful psychosocial burden. Online shaming will be criminalized as its own offence in the Criminal Code, with the legislation also including workers not on employment contracts.
The Employment Contracts Act will be amended to grant fixed-term employees the right to terminate their employment. Transitions between different working time formats will be secured by adopting an annual leave bank or equivalent.
Protection of working time and legislation on remote working will be improved. The location-independence of remote work and the right to be non-contactable outside working hours will be enshrined in law. All staff will receive the opportunity for on-the-job upskilling.
Jobseeker services will be improved to better serve jobseekers with academic qualifications.
Science and research are transnational by nature. That must be seen in the structures.
University researchers and teachers are required to be international and mobile, but society still has much to do to support this sustainably. At present, Finland does not appear as an attractive country in all respects for researchers and teachers. On the one hand, Finns do not apply for the doctoral track in sufficient numbers, and on the other hand doctors from international backgrounds are quick to leave Finland due to the uncertainties of research careers here.
Finland will play an active role in the international funding community. Higher education institutions will be guaranteed sufficient resources to apply for competitive international funding.
The engagement of all academics, both in employment and wider society, will be enhanced. As skills become more international, specialists who already live in Finland will be considered.
People who have relocated to Finland will be guaranteed opportunities to learn Finnish or Swedish during working hours, and the appropriate teaching will be secured. The resources for recognizing prior skills and qualifications will be secured. Residence permit applications, including those of permits longer than specialists’ and researchers’ current ones, will be processed more quickly and smoothly.
The social security of researchers going on and returning from exchange programmes will be improved, with consideration for their family members as well.
Finnish Union of University Researchers and Teachers (FUURT) 2023 parliamentary election manifesto was approved at a meeting of the Board on 30 September 2022.