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Finland: merger creates new Tampere University

As our friend Jan Myklebust reported in University World News on 11 January, the University of Tampere and Tampere University of Technology merged at the beginning of the year, to become Tampere University. The new university, which also ‘owns’ Tampere University of Applied Science (TAMK), is the second-largest one in Finland. Together with TAMK, the association will have approximately 30,000 students, 4,400 staff and an operating budget 400 million Euro. Nearly 40 percent of the operating budget will be provided by external funding, to increase which is one of the chief purposes of the merger. The association is expected to award about 4,000 degrees per year.

Tampere university is, together with Aalto University, the only Finnish university based on private -instead of public - law. The process which led to the new university lasted for five years and was difficult and at times painful for those involved. This is not unusual, because mergers must successfully bridge different institutional cultures and identities. While Tampere University of Technology had close ties to the corporate world and shared some of the latter’s values, this was not the case with the University of Tampere. To find common ground on issues of governance proved to be particularly difficult. One bone of contention was if the institution’s ‘board’ would have also external members.

University mergers are never easy. As Alan Gilbert, former Vice-Chancellor of the University of Melbourne, who was hired to organise the merger of the Victoria University of Manchester and University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology in the UK once famously warned of the danger of failure, by pointing out that four out of five mergers in the corporate world are unsuccessful. Gilbert was successful, by the way, and the new University of Manchester saw the light of day in 2004. What is more, it was awarded the Sunday Times University of the Year in 2006,  after winning the inaugural Times Higher Education Supplement University of the Year Prize in 2005. ACA wishes Tampere University the same success and luck. 

More information here