Several good updates to University Regulations from 1 January 2021 onward – still much to reform to fulfill university democracy

The board of Tampere University has decided in its meeting on 16 December on the amendments to be made to the University Regulations and other measures taken to develop the University’s management system. The decisions are based on the report by the working group reviewing the functionality of the University’s management system and University Regulations and the comments by the university community as well as the founding members of the university. TATTE also published its own statement on the report. 

TATTE is very pleased to see the University Regulations amended so that the academic board is free to elect its chair from its own members, and that the provost will act as the rapporteur instead of the chair of the academic board. This change is particularly important to support the decision making autonomy of the academic board. 

Many of the recommendations made by the working group reviewing the University Regulations and management systems have not been implemented in the amendments. Some of the recommendations have been accounted for so that the university board promises to provide further instructions on the topics. For example, in regard to recruitment the university board promises to provide a separate Rector’s Instruction “to promote openness, transparency and sound administrative practices” (University Board agenda, pp. 12–13). TATTE hopes that these instructions be prepared in a way that is open and that professional associations are given time to provide comments on the instructions.

TATTE finds it deeply regrettable that important amendments were not included in the reforms that have now been made. Strengthening the role of the Academic Board in the process of naming University Board members and the tripartite nature of the Academic Board would have been important amendments to the University Regulations. There are differing views on this within the university community. TATTE hopes that the amendments recommended by the working group reviewing the University Regulations and management systems which have not been reformed at this time are justified to the university community openly and in detail. 

The effects of the chosen amendments and the reforms not implemented should be recognized and carefully documented, so that there is empirical evidence upon which the regulations can be further developed. The University Regulations cannot be considered as finished, but rather their assessment should be actively reviewed particularly from the perspective of university democracy. The material provided by the working group reviewing the University Regulations and management systems as well as by the university community are central to this work. 

We maintain that in the future, when amendments to the University Regulations are considered, we consider very carefully what kind of weight we give to the views of the university founders. As some of the founders noted in their comments, the reforms recommended by the working group are distinctly within the sphere of university’s autonomous decision making. This should have been a self-evident fact even within the context of a foundation university.