‘The primary task of a researcher cannot be to apply for funding’, states Tero Karjalainen, the new President of the Union.
Tero Karjalainen, Ph.D., is the new President of the Finnish Union of University Researchers and Teachers. Karjalainen, who holds the position as Director of the Centre for Continuous Learning at the University of Eastern Finland, has a diverse academic background that includes university research, teaching, administration and management. He has also contributed to the Union as Vice President for the terms of 2007–2008 and 2019–2022.
The aim of his two-year term will be to safeguard the long-term resources for research, thereby also improving the conditions for well-being at work. Short-term employment relationships, the continuous process of applying for funding, uncertain funding for science and research and foggy career views gnaw away at well-being at work and satisfaction with science careers in Finland.
‘Science and higher education require sufficient, long-term, predictable resources and work careers that attract talent. The primary work of researchers cannot be the continuous process of applying for funding.’
Linking well-being at work with university funding
It is Karjalainen’s stance that if universities and the guiding ministry committed themselves to researchers and academics with the same devotion as researchers and academics commit to science and education, it would increase the quality and sustainability of science. His recipe for improving the situation is for the ministry’s guidance to be linked more strongly to the Vision for higher education in 2030, which endeavours for universities to be the best workplaces in Finland.
Karjalainen also offers up a challenge to employers within the field of science and research: ‘Pursue the best talent through good personnel policies!’
In his opinion, good personnel policies mean, in practice, the provision of a clearly more stable outlook for the future of work, fixed-term employment contracts of a decent and reasonable length, more permanent employments, the possibility to focus on core tasks and interesting career paths. The realisation of this also calls for an increase in the basic funding of universities.
‘Without researchers and academics, there is no science or higher education. Researchers and academics deserve a fair working life’, he stresses.
Sanni Tiitinen, D.Soc.Sc., who works as a Senior Researcher at Jyväskylä University of Applied Sciences, will continue to serve FUURT as one of the Union’s two Vice Presidents. The other Vice President is Pauli Väisänen, who is currently finishing up his doctoral thesis on space physics at the University of Oulu. Väisänen has served on the Union Board since 2020 and as the Chair of the Early Career Researchers’ Committee since 2021.
The final selection was decided on by the union meeting of the Finnish Union of University Researchers and Teachers. The two-year term begins in January 2023.