Giuseppe Sandro Mela.
La Rivista Roars, Return on Academic Research, ha pubblicato un interessante articolo:
Segnaliamo ai lettori un articolo di THE dedicato alla crisi degli atenei del nord Europa e specialmente scandinavi. Una crisi che pare procedere di pari passo con quella del modello di welfare di quei Paesi, per tanti anni oggetto di ammirazione, forse anche da chi non ne conosceva i dettagli e il contesto sociale.
«Just months after being elected as prime minister last year, Juha Sipilä announced that basic funding to the country’s 15 universities and 26 polytechnics would be cut by approximately €500 million (£418 million) over his centre-right government’s four-year term, after a weakening of the Finnish economy. And €100 million of research funding would also be slashed: all this on top of cuts of €200 million imposed by the previous government.
The Academy of Finland, a government agency that funds scientific research via four research councils, says its funding for bottom-up research has dropped by 16 per cent over five years. When combined with a 43 per cent increase in the number of funding applications, this has led to a big drop in acceptance rates.»
Non va molto meglio in Danimarca e in Islanda, come riferisce THE. Ma sembra proprio la Finlandia (per tanti anni osannata per i risultati dei test PISA e dunque come eccellenza educativa) il campione dei tagli alla formazione terziaria.
Scrive ancora THE:
«Jukka Kola, rector of the University of Helsinki, says that about half the budget cuts at his institution will be achieved through staff reduction, with the rest coming from increasing other sources of income, such as industry funding. In January, Helsinki said it would cut staff numbers by nearly 1,000 by the end of 2017 in order to reduce its budget by €106 million by 2020; 570 people have already been sacked, including 75 teaching and research staff. Prior to these cuts, the university had already shrunk staff numbers by 500 to reduce costs.»
Winter is coming.
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La situazione interna finlandese non è buona.
Il quadro politico è frammentato in moti piccoli partiti che stentano a trovare un ragionevole accordo. Non a caso l’ultimo sondaggio Gallup del 18 dicembre indica una risalita dei socialdemocratici dal pregresso 16.5% all’attuale 20.8%.
Il debito estero finlandese ammonta al 94% del pil e la bilancia dei pagamenti è deficitaria. L’età mediana è 44.2 anni.
«Cuts will “hurt the country’s competitiveness and citizens’ well-being”»
«The head of Finland’s largest and oldest university has come out strongly against the country’s austerity budget for higher education.»
«Earlier this year, the recently elected prime minister, Juha Sipilä, told the country’s parliament that his coalition government had “decided on a total of €4 billion [£2.8 billion] in cost savings in public finances during this parliamentary term”.»
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– La ricerca è un investimento a lungo termine, non a breve. Se appare ragionevole che i ricercatori la organizzino al meglio, appare altresì ragionevole che chi paga abbia il diritto di prelazione sugli argomenti di interesse. In altri termini, le università devono produrre lavori scientifici e brevetti, nonché formare personale della classe dirigente: non servono per mantenere gli universitari.
– Quando mancano i soldi, questi mancano per tutti: anche il personale a ruolo resta senza stipendio quando le risorse sono terminate. I “diritti precostituiti” sono tutelati soltanto dalla forza politica oppure economica, oppure ancora militare: in caso differente sono vuote parole
Nota. Situazioni del genere accadono quando le università sono statali. Quelle private sono sostenute usualmente da una fondazione, gestita con sani principi economici, e sopravvivono benissimo alle avverse situazioni economiche nazionali.
→ Tekes. 2016-06-12. Funding cuts to affect Tekes – cooperation between universities and business will bear the brunt of cuts
The Government Programme will involve cuts of EUR 138 million in Tekes’ research, development and innovation funding from the beginning of 2016. Research funding for universities and research institutes, which will shrink by EUR 100 million, will bear the brunt of the cuts.
The cuts will affect grant-based funding. In the first instance, they will be directed at Strategic Centre for Science, Technology and Innovation or SHOK programmes, the Innovative Cities or INKA programme, and the funding of large companies and public research organisations.
Tekes funding for SMEs and startups will remain as before, as will Tekes’ loan-based funding.
“The cuts will lead to concrete changes in the public funding of innovation activities and in Tekes operations. The greatest impact will be felt in networking and collaboration between universities, research institutes and the private sector,” says Pekka Soini, Director General of Tekes.
“We will need to completely rethink our programme activities and how Tekes can best move the business ecosystem forward,” he adds.
“We will plan the changes in such a way that Tekes can continue to fund growth among startups and SMEs, as well as bold projects among game changers in the private sector,” Soini states.
The Government Programme includes 26 key projects in which the Government intends to invest over a billion euros. Many of these growth-pursuing projects are in Tekes focus areas.
“We have already made proposals on the content and implementation of the key projects, for example with regard to the bioeconomy, digitalisation and wellbeing and health. We are also tightening up cooperation between Team Finland players in order to make the most efficient possible use of our mutual resources so as to promote the competitiveness and growth of companies,” says Pekka Soini.
→ The World University Rankings. 2016-08-02. University of Helsinki head furious over austerity measures
Cuts will “hurt the country’s competitiveness and citizens’ well-being”, says rector.
The head of Finland’s largest and oldest university has come out strongly against the country’s austerity budget for higher education.
Earlier this year, the recently elected prime minister, Juha Sipilä, told the country’s parliament that his coalition government had “decided on a total of €4 billion [£2.8 billion] in cost savings in public finances during this parliamentary term”.
The “strategic programme” for the nation included the “freezing of index increases [for] universities and universities of applied sciences” and the end of special funding, worth €30 million, “earmarked to the University of Helsinki and the University of Eastern Finland [compensating for corporate tax paid on] their pharmacy business activities”.
In order to make “the system of higher education institutions and research activities…more cost-effective”, the programme proposed shedding administrative staff, “clustering of higher education institutions” and greater specialisation of their missions.
Yet it also noted that universities were autonomous and retained “the power of decision on how the savings will be put into effect”.
However, Helsinki rector Jukka Kola issued a statement saying he was “shocked” by a cut of approximately €500 million to total university budgets, which came in the wake of €200 million shaved by the previous government that had led to Helsinki reducing staffing levels at by 500 posts.
By 2020, Professor Kola went on, the university would “face cuts amounting to more than €83 million due to decisions made by the previous and new government. This means that the university’s basic funding will be cut by one sixth.”
“It is not sustainable or wise to weaken the future success factors and competitiveness of Finland via these big spending cuts on universities,” Professor Kola told Times Higher Education.
He said he found it particularly “difficult to understand and accept the targeted extra cuts on the University of Helsinki”, given that it is Finland’s highest ranked university (currently 103 in the THE World University Rankings), as this would “directly hurt our country’s competitiveness and citizens’ well-being”.
Asked for his comments, Tapio Kosunen, director general of the Finnish department for higher education and science policy, acknowledged that universities had “reason to be worried about the money” but noted that a budget of €3.2 billion for higher education and science still represented a relatively high proportion of GDP.
There were likely to be additional government funds for “regional centres of excellence”, for commercialising research and for matching (and more than matching) money obtained from private sources, he said.
Universities had already shown themselves “very active in thinking about new modes of cooperation” and in developing individual “profiles”, he added, while constitutional factors meant that the specific issue of pharmacy payments was still under discussion.
→ The World University Rankings. 2016-08-02. University of Helsinki
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