The Finnish Union of University Professors statement on the draft decrees on the reform of the funding model for universities

The funding model of universities in Finland currently relies on performance-based management. About three-quarters of the funding allocated by the Ministry of Education and Culture is based on how universities have succeeded in achieving the goals set by the Ministry, such as producing degrees and publications and collecting competitive research funding. In most other countries, universities receive a higher share of fixed funding from the state, which is not affected by performance indicators. In Europe, performance-based funding usually accounts for 10–50% of core funding.

The final report of the international evaluation (Evaluation of the governance and funding practices used by the Ministry of Education and Culture for steering Finnish Higher Education Institutions) proposes that the weight of performance indicators should be decreased and that universities should be given room for self-profiling. The conclusions of the report are in line with the view of the Finnish Union of University Professors.

The Finnish Union of University Professors sees that, in the long term, the focus of university funding must be shifted from funding based on educational volumes and project-specific research funding to more free research funding. Only with free research funding can it be ensured that universities can quickly profile themselves in their own fields of expertise and that Finland will become a pioneering country in research and teaching. Future innovations arise from unexpected directions and collaboration between disciplines. Free research funding also promotes the international mobility and cooperation of researchers, as well as business cooperation and the impact of research. In addition to guaranteeing freedom and agility in research, a higher share of fixed funding would facilitate the management of universities’ finances, as funding is a constant resource bottleneck in universities’ profiling and pursuit of innovation.

In the long term, the foundations of the financing model should be completely reformed. The reform should be started immediately, considering national specificities. The revised funding model must be based on researched information on universities’ funding models, and its preparation must utilise the scientific expertise of professors in their fields.