During the spring, SYL has been monitoring the advancement of the Tampere3 process worriedly. Especially during this spring, the twists and turns in building the new university have understandably left many confused and raised concerns. SYL believes the process is endangering the wellbeing of students and staff, which in turn risks the quality of education and research. The process is nationally significant, since it will serve as a precedent for possible future mergers.
When the legislation on the entry into force of the new university in Tampere was passed, the Parliament’s Committee for Constitutional Law demanded that the measures taken by the interim board of the new university would be limited to strictly necessary measures. The interim board, however, has appointed the leading decision-making body, an external person to chair the senate, which part of the university community with the support of expert statements has deemed to be unlawful. A complaint on the measures of the interim board has been submitted to the Parliamentary Ombudsman. The complaint requests the Ombudsman to report on the lawfulness of the procedures of university’s interim board as well as on the lawfulness of its regulation. The interim board has also interfered with the election of the new board of the university in a way that can be seen as not in line with the autonomy of universities in accordance with the Constitution of Finland. SYL would like to wait for the report from the Ombudsman, as this will clear up the situation and way forward.
The most recent dispute is on the independence of the persons to be elected to the board of the university, on which the interim board and some founders have had a different view than, for instance, the Ministry of Education and Culture as well as some experts on foundation law. Two written questions on these actions have been made to the Minister of Education. Friday 15 June, the University Senate discussed the board of the new university and whether staff can be represented on the board.
University autonomy is protected by the Constitution of Finland and it is a very serious matter that university autonomy has been jeopardised in Tampere. The genuine participation of the university community is essential for the university merger to be completed and for smooth operations of the new community. Not only have foundation universities and universities subject to public law been used to differing legislation, but they have also had differing modus operandi. The events unfolding in Tampere cannot, however, solely be attributed to differences in organisational culture. The new university is to begin its operations at the beginning of 2019, but in what mood will the new common journey begin, if the opinions differ so much within the university community? SYL hopes that the interim board will prioritise the wellbeing of its community and critically evaluate its own actions from this perspective. Additionally, SYL finds it important that all members of the university community have a possibility to be represented on all levels of administration at the new university.