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The five biggest issues at the University right now


During the autumn, there are a number of ongoing changes at the University of Helsinki that concern all the students.

1) Due to the funding cuts, the University has initiated co-operation negotiations concerning a maximum of 1,200 employees.

2) At the same time, the Big Wheel project started in early 2015 renews the structures and content of university degrees.

3) Tuition fees will be imposed on students coming from outside the EU and EEA countries.

4) The University is preparing a new strategy for the years 2017–20.

5) The University transforms its administration into a service organisation.

Read concise summaries on the topics below. During the coming weeks the topics will be addressed individually: follow the HYY Member Newsletter, our Facebook and of course our website.

1) University cuts i.e. the change programme 

A change programme, cut programme, savings programme. The University of Helsinki has prepared a change programme in September in order to adjust its finances due to the Government cuts. According to the estimation of the University, the cuts targeted at the University of Helsinki will be 106 million euros by the year 2020. The University Board aims to save a total of 86 million euros, which means that the number of personnel will be reduced by the maximum of 1,200 – every seventh employee.

The largest single cut aimed at the University of Helsinki, in particular, is the revocation of the pharmacy compensation, which reduces the university budget by 29 million euro. Until now, the state has supported the University of Helsinki in the maintaining of University Pharmacy.

Since more than half of the University of Helsinki employees work in teaching and research positions, co-operation negotiations and redundancies also concern them. This inevitably affects the opportunities of faculties and departments to organise teaching, ensure smooth study progress and to engage in high-quality research.

However, the objective of the University Board is to maintain high-quality teaching and research. In addition to personnel costs, the change programme also includes other saving targets. The final saving targets and measures will be specified in the University's target programme for the year of 2016. The University Board will approve the target programme in December 2015.

The University provides information on the change programme at Flamma at:

2) Big Wheel reforms the degrees: new degree structures into use in the autumn of 2017

The Big Wheel refers to the currently ongoing structure and content reform of the university degrees. The renewed bachelor's and master's programmes should be clarified by 10 Dec. The aim is to have new students in new degree programmes in the autumn of 2017. This will start the transition phase of at least three years, during which students may graduate in accordance with the current degree structures or transfer to a new degree programme if they wish to do so.

After the reform, each student belongs to either a bachelor's, master's or doctoral programme. Degree programmes will be formed mainly based on the current subjects. A degree programme consisting of several subjects may include different branches of study. The minimum of 40 students per year has been proposed as the number of admissions for bachelor's and master's programmes (with the exception of the Swedish programmes).

Along the reform, it is easier for students to change a field when they transfer to a master's or doctoral programme. Some master's programmes may require an application process based on previous studies but every student will certainly continue to have access to a master's programme in one's own field. Students still have to apply for doctoral programmes. Educational planning in degree programmes will be skill-based; each course specifies the skills that students should have after completing the course.

The University's material on the Big Wheel is available at Flamma:

3) Tuition fees for students coming from outside EU and EEA countries

Juha Sipilä's Government will submit to the Parliament an amendment to the act on tuition fees charged in higher education institutions, which concern students coming from outside the EU and EEA countries. The fees will be charged from students in foreign-language programmes that lead to a lower or higher university degree. Based on current information, higher education institutions can decide the amount of tuition fees, but the minimum amount of each payment is EUR 1,500 per academic year. According to the proposal, the act will into force on 1 Jan 2016 and higher education institutions should begin to charge the fees no later than 1 Aug 2017.

Tuition fees will not concern the Finnish students or EU citizens, and for now, there is no need to be concerned. However, tuition fees imposed on international students can be regarded as the first step to a situation where the thickness of the wallet of Finnish students will define who has access to higher education institutions in the future.

HYY and the rest of the student movement oppose the tuition fees. The fees are unlikely to bring additional funding to the university but rather create more costs required by a scholarship system, marketing and payment administration bureaucracy. In addition, tuition fees may significantly reduce the number of talented international students in Finnish higher education institutions.

Free education has attracted talented students to Finland, and the general trend worldwide is rather the discontinuation of tuition fees. Germany, for example, has decided to return to free education. The student union does advocacy work together with other student organisations and aims to influence decision-makers in order to maintain free education for all in the future.

4) New strategy of the University of Helsinki
The University of Helsinki is preparing a new strategy for the years 2017–2020. At the same time, the University creates a vision until the year of 2024 and chooses the key development areas and procedures to implement the strategy and the vision. 

During 2015, the student union has participated in workshops, the analysis of the operational environment and several rounds of comments on strategy drafts. In addition, the Student Union Board and members of the Representative Council have written posts for the University's strategy blog:

The University Board will approve the new strategy in January 2016. During the spring of 2016, target programmes will be prepared for the entire university and different units (e.g. faculties and departments), based on which the strategy will be implemented in practice. 

During the preparation process, the student union's key objectives and development areas for the university strategy have been students' well-being and study ability, committing students to the academic community and involving students in the activities of research groups, promoting the transparency of science, making a transfer from one degree programme to another easier and improving international university cooperation.

5) University administration transformed into a ”service organisation”
Based on the initiative of Rector Jukka Kola, the University has started to reform its administration in the autumn of 2015. The work has begun in October and the plan is to address a proposal for a new model for university administration services in connection with the University's cooperation negotiations at the end of November.

Planning work is divided into six groups according to administrative fields. The reform of education and study services as well as research services, for example, are planned in their own groups. The aim is to transfer into a new administration service organisation during the year of 2016.

Anne Rautanen, HYY's Specialist for Academic Affairs, represents the student union and students in the steering group of the project. HYY will receive more information on the reform in November when the proposal for a new administrative model will be processed.

Further information on Flamma: