Edition 218 - June 2019

Finland: new government gives hope to higher education and research

As of April 2019, Finland has a new government, composed of 19 ministers: 7 from the Social Democratic Party, 5 from the Centre Party, 3 from the Greens, 2 from the Left Alliance and 2 from the Swedish People’s Party. The Ministry of Education and Culture hosts two Ministers: Minister for Science and Culture (Annika Saarikko, Centre Party) and Minister of Education (Li Andersson, Left Alliance). Higher Education falls under the Minister of Science and Culture. The government’s objective is to achieve a socially, economically and ecologically sustainable Finland by 2030. To do so, it wants to create a favourable environment for reforms, by leveraging the Nordic welfare state and its key pillars: income security, well-functioning health and social services, solid education and high expertise.

According to the government plan, education and research are very high on the agenda and, together with culture, are considered as fundamental means to guarantee individual freedom. As for higher education (HE), a modest increase in funding and the re-introduction of an index-based approach to basic funding are announced. For example, universities and universities of applied science will receive EUR 40 million and EUR 20 million respectively in budgetary increases. Concerning research, EUR 150 million will be allocated to Business Finland for three years to boost research and development. In line with the objectives set out by the previous government, the current one sets 50% participation rate in HE as a target to be reached by 2030. Equality and access to education, including HE, is highlighted.

Internationalisation is to be addressed in different ways - for instance, by enhancing the attractiveness of the HE system and creating smoother immigration processes for international talent. The government plan comprises measures to support integration of foreign students into the Finnish society and labour market as well as to better facilitate access to HE among immigrants and other less-represented groups.

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