SYL’s statement to the Finnish Parliament’s Education and Culture Committee & the Education and Science Subcommittee of the Finance Committee

Last week, SYL issued a statement to the Education and Culture Committee regarding the government’s proposal on the so-called teaching cooperation legislation and the establishment of the Tampere 3 university. SYL also issued a statement to the Education and Science Subcommittee of the Finance Committee concerning the government’s proposal for the state budget, especially in regard to higher education and science policy.

Regarding the establishment of the Tampere 3 university, SYL talked about the right of the university community to be heard when forming the foundation and selecting the board. The current model where students in particular have been excluded from the decision-making process should not be used when merging the higher education institutions.

Concerning the teaching cooperation legislation, SYL stated that it supports a three-year transitional period when abolishing or transferring educational responsibility. This would clarify the unclear present situation and improve the students’ legal protection. The new law would oblige higher education institutions to be responsible for the teaching, guidance and administration for at least three years after the abolition of educational responsibility. This would also make sure that the universities would not make rash and unwise decisions, but that structural development would rather be conducted in the long term with the strategic objectives in mind.

SYL takes a cautious approach to teaching cooperation. We are worried about the fact that higher education institutions are redirecting their skills objectives to make them more uniform, leading to the loss of diverse know-how produced by different sectors. The reform must not lead to a situation where universities try to outsource a significant portion of their teaching to universities of applied sciences.

SYL thinks that the students must be informed of the contents of their degrees and teaching and the location and language of the teaching already when applying for the university. According to good governance, higher education institutions should design their regulations, curricula and material used in student recruitment so that people applying for the school would have a real chance to obtain a clear and adequate view of the contents of their future degree and the key implementation methods of the teaching. When it comes to the equal treatment of students, the higher education institution procuring the teaching and the one providing it would be jointly responsible for making sure that the teaching at the other institution would not weaken the position of the student when it comes to the services offered to students by higher education institutions. SYL believes that the Ministry should monitor the impacts of teaching cooperation and, in particular, how the cooperation affects the situation of the students.

In its budget statement, SYL voiced its support for the moderate investments made to research in the form of the Flagship programme, but SYL still considers the government’s major policy as an obstacle to Finland’s growth and competitiveness: the effects of the education cuts cannot be mitigated with earmarked projects, but rather with real investments in education and research. In its statement, SYL asks the question of whether now is the time to bring back the university index since the economy is doing better.

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