OUTI ry statement regarding the election process of the University of Oulu Rector

The following statement has been sent to the University of Oulu Board of Directors on April 5 2024.

Transparency and community participation are essential in choosing the next rector

The term of the current University of Oulu Rector Jouko Niinimäki is ending in 2024. The University’s Board of Directors is legally obligated to appoint the next rector and to select a suitable recruitment process. The board will likely launch the recruitment process this spring and choose the next rector by the autumn. In order to have a rector that enjoys the full support of the university community, participation and transparency must be key considerations in the recruitment process. We strongly urge the university board to involve the staff and student body in the recruitment process, and urge the board to make the process transparent so that the university community can stand behind the next rector.

The responsibilities of the rector are substantial. The rector is the speaker for the University Board of Directors, makes proposals on vice rectors and deans, manages the university’s operations, and carries out tasks set by the board. In order for the University of Oulu to succeed in its primary tasks – producing research, offering research-based teaching, engaging with stakeholders in society – it is essential that the board is successful in choosing the next rector. The university’s highest leader must be able to address pressing challenges like student dropout rates and staff workloads, which are approaching untenable levels. In addition to internal matters, the university is a significant actor in the city of Oulu. As we saw with the public debates surrounding the location of a new campus, the university’s decisions have a large impact on the wider Oulu region. Current law and university regulations endow the rector with discretionary powers that are significant for the university and the city. It is therefore in our common interest that the University of Oulu chooses the best possible rector.

The University Board of Directors is free to determine how the next rector will be chosen. Many universities in Finland have recently chosen new rectors, and the recruitment processes often have been exemplary, resulting in large numbers of applicants. We believe that a transparent recruitment process will help our university attract a pool of high-quality candidates for the rector position. Because the rector is an integral part of the university’s operations, it is important that the staff be involved in the recruitment process. One way to do this would be through public interviews with the candidates or through involving the University Collegium. Precedents for transparent recruiting processes can be found elsewhere in Finland. Recently, the University of Helsinki’s collegium interviewed the top rector candidates. In Tampere University and the University of Eastern Finland for instance the university community participated in public hearings on the top candidates. Such recruitment models tend to garner a significant level of attention from staff and students. They allow the university community to familiarize themselves with the candidates, and lead to more support for the board’s decision. A participatory process increases trust between the board, the university community and the rector, which is ultimately beneficial to all. A good example of successful participation in the University of Oulu is the collegium’s process of choosing new members for the university board, in which the university community was able to suggest candidates to the board. This kind of democratic approach enhances trust and cohesion in our university. By ensuring participation and transparency in the recruitment process we can have the best possible rector to manage our shared interests.


Oulu, April 5, 2024


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