The publication of prime minister Petteri Orpo’s government programme and the active discussion on racism in the past summer have raised concerns about international researchers’ situation in Finland. We understand well that the negative atmosphere and suggested restrictions on migration and residence permits have caused considerable attention and made many of us worried. Especially our international members, many of you being researchers coming to Finland from abroad, have been in contact with us at the FUURT office as well as with our local shop stewards. The common question has been how the government programme will change researchers’ residence permits in the future.
The short answer to the question is, we do not know yet. The government programme says nothing about researcher’s residence permit specifically. In addition, the government programme gives the outline of the government’s plans, but the legislative process takes time and involves many actors. What is certain, however, is that we in FUURT continue our active lobbying and advocacy work so that researchers’ residence permits, and other migration issues, would be developed in a way that would make it easier for international researchers to come and stay in Finland. One crucial aspect would be to extend the duration of researcher’s residence permit, as I wrote with my colleague from OAJ in Helsingin Sanomat (8.9.2023). New legislation to extend researcher’s residence permit has already been written, but time ran out to get it through the parliament before the election last spring.
We continue our advocacy work on the matter. FUURT representatives have talked about the situation of international researchers in Finland in meetings e.g. with Ms Sari Multala, Minister of Science and Culture, and a meeting with the Minister of Employment Arto Satonen’s cabinet (responsible for work-based migration) is coming soon as well. We will also meet with Migri representatives this autumn to discuss the practical difficulties our members face during different residence permit application processes.
The good thing is that FUURT is not alone in this matter. There is a common understanding in the science and higher education sector, including e.g. universities and other research organisations, research funding organisations, employers’ representative Sivista and other trade unions within Akava, in that we need to ease migration policy and processes for international researchers and other talents. We also discuss with universities and policy makers alike issues related to employment and job market for international talents in Finland. There are regional differences how the job market is in different parts of Finland, but it is important to make companies and other employers realise the great potential of international researchers living and working in Finland.
Things don’t always look bright, but let’s work together to make them brighter!
FUURT senior adviser
PS. FUURT is also drafting its new language policy paper in which we give recommendations on use of language and multilingual practices at universities and other workplaces, as well as consider our own language practices in different FUURT activities. The goal is to make our communications, services, and other activities even more accessible and equal to everyone to get access to and enjoy!