The threat of budget cuts has been looming over science for so long that the rhetoric is long established, and the calendar shows repeated records of opposing measures.
Now, after so many nice, science-friendly, and expertise-valuing speeches, our country has been roused into action and RDI funding is actually seeing investment in the form of real euros. It is important to keep clarity in mind and remember the long term even during this positive trend, as knee-jerking and creating new elements simply adds more hassle and organising work.
As investments are focused, it is crucial to realise that research funding does not percolate into the common good through innovation alone. Science-based education genuinely helps improve expertise, to the benefit of Finland as a whole.
The world surrounding us has changed, and so have we. The most important thing for us is to continue our work towards a better future.
For scientists, responsible assessment of researchers and their research is both an essential value and part of their everyday work. If our universities are funded on the basis of performance indicators and points are scored for each JUFO publication and degree, that is obviously what the units end up doing.
Science-based education genuinely helps improve expertise, to the benefit of Finland as a whole.
At the same time, we hear calls for research effectiveness and the participation of top experts in the discourse. This is a case of the rather familiar “you get what you pay for” logic in action; if there is no incentive, why would you do something? Responsible assessment highlights diverse expertise and participation for an individual scientist gaining merit.
Meanwhile, the performance management model and its funding scheme are finally being assessed on a wider scale. If the scientist earns merit through widely sharing their knowledge and this diversity is also recognised financially, it may now be possible to find common ground from two opposite approaches.
As my presidency approaches its end, I am especially pleased to see how well the Finnish title of väitöskirjatutkija for doctoral researchers has caught on, how the difficult situation of grant-funded researchers has been alleviated, how long-term goals have become widespread, and how good academic leadership is being talked up as a core component for success. The constructive discussions with our various partners have been a particularly great part of my job.
This work is done with them and for them.
Naturally, I cannot forget the whole FUURT family either. This work is done with them and for them. Thank you very much, everyone – the work continues!
Maija S. Peltola
Chair, The Finnish Union of University Researchers and Teachers
The text was originally published in Acatiimi on 16 November, 2022
Photo: Milla Talassalo