Finlandia: Govt to reverse higher education policies

Finlandia / 19 de octubre de 2016 / Fuente:

The government seems to make a turnaround in its policies regarding higher education as a Finnish Nobel laureate Bengt Holström added weight to expert suggestions about additional funding.

Education Minister Sanni Grahn-Laasonen said on Sunday that the government now plans hundreds of millions of euros in capital funding to restore the capabilities of Finnish universities.

Interviewed on the newspaper consortium Lannen Media, Grahn-Laasonen referred to the advice given by Holström, one of the 2016 Nobel economics laureates. The accent will be on funding teaching and basic research, the minister said.

The 2016 Nobel Prize in Economics, or officially the Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel, has been awarded jointly to Oliver Hart and Holström “for their contributions to contract theory.

Holström has maintained Finnish citizenship despite moving to the United States.
In August this year, Holmstrom and two other Finnish economists appealed for a restoration of funding and suggested sales of public property as a financial source.

The government has major holdings in publically listed companies and controls majority ownership in some.

Sunday’s announcement was described by Finnish media as a total reverse of the higher education policy.

Before the three-party alliance government led by Juha Sipilä was formed in May 2015, universities were already required increasingly to attract private financing from the society. As that was not feasible in all subjects, the cutbacks of public funding began in 2015 and resulted in layoffs and terminations of some programs.

Since taking office, the current coalition government has severely reduced budgeting for universities, causing dismissals even at professor level.

In the interview published on Sunday, Grahn-Laasonen hoped the word about the revised policy will be heard internationally. She referred to recent reports about scholars leaving Finland for research opportunities abroad.

“We must now see to it that Finland has an attractive environment for international experts, and for Finnish researchers to come back,” Grahn-Laasonen was quoted as saying. The implementation of the policy would begin next spring in the 2018 budget planning.

The would-be funding in the form of a capital infusion did not receive unanimous applause in universities. According to the new plan, the actual increase in revenue would depend on the yield of the capital, some critics said, and they suggested direct spending instead.

Grahn-Laasonen responded late Sunday by saying that an increase in direct funding would not be possible.

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