Tampere University did request the university community for comments on the report issued by the working group tasked with reviewing the functionality of Tampere University’s management system and University Regulations. The University’s article on the intranet about commenting. The Student Union of Tampere University’s statement is based on students’ calls for change to the management system and regulations of Tampere University. Read more on TREY’s calls for change to the management system and regulations of Tampere University.
“It is really great that the working group’s work produced such a good report, even though the schedule was really tight and the appointment of the working group had its own problems. Special thanks to the student representatives of the working group who jumped intensively into the group’s work,” says Ville Jäppinen, Executive Board’s educational affairs organiser at the Student Union of Tampere University.
“Now we students hope that the University Board will indeed listen to the report and the proposals it says. We hope that the coming University Board meeting will be in a state of great handling of the comments from the university community on 27th November and the Board promotes a careful and open process. The community has now been consulted in many different ways, so the next step is to take action!” says Annika Nevanpää, the Chair of the Executive Board of the Student Union of Tampere University.
Jenny Vaara, Specialist in Educational Affairs, firstname.lastname@example.org, tel. +358503612847
Ville Jäppinen, Member of the Board, email@example.com, tel. +358447568539
Statement of the Student Union of Tampere University on the report of the working group assessing the University’s management system and the functionality and development needs of the University Regulations
The Student Union of Tampere University is thankful for the opportunity to comment on the working group’s report. The report looks into the University’s management system and the functionality and development needs of the University Regulations in relation to the accomplishment of the University’s strategic objectives. In this statement, the Student Union of Tampere University (TREY) will examine the proposals made by the working group and raise matters that were not discussed in the working group’s report. TREY would like to thank the working group and its chairperson for their vital and demanding efforts in this matter which is of utmost importance to the university community. The working group’s comprehensive report presents the central issues which should be reviewed in the management of Tampere University.
TREY’s statement is based on the idea that the foundation university of Tampere is not a fixed entity as it is developed through continuous cooperation and discussion. The University is nothing without the university community. This is why we insist that the university community is taken into consideration in the University’s management system and University Regulations. Now is the time to update the University Regulations with an open mind. We insist on ensuring an open and thorough process in which all members of the university community can equally participate. From the perspective of us students, the aspects requiring particular attention when reviewing the University’s management are management, transparency, language, subsidiarity, community involvement, the University Board and the board appointment process.
Appointment and role of senior university administration
Appointment of the University Board
TREY commends the working group for having identified challenges related to the University’s senior administration and its appointment and role.
TREY sees proposal no. 1 as an important principle for the appointment of University Board members and is in favour of reviewing section 11(5) of the University Regulations. TREY insists that the Academic Board should have the right to decide how the University Board is appointed. For this reason, TREY insists that the provisions regarding the appointment, terms and principles of the University Board should be set out in the University Regulations and not in the regulations of the university foundation, which is the case at the moment. The university community must have the right to make decisions on the appointment process and the competence of the University Board in accordance with the provisions of the Universities Act.
The justifications for this demand are based on statements given by legal experts prior to the adoption of the current University Regulations. In a statement given in Finnish on 18 February 2017, professor emeritus Kaarlo Tuori made the following comments on the relationship between the regulations of the foundation and the regulations of the university:
“It is also reasonable to consider that since the Constitution’s provision on university autonomy supports the university board’s power to decide the university’s regulations, the general rule must be that the provisions supplementing the Universities Act are set out in the university’s regulations, not in the regulations of the foundation. The administration of the foundation and the university may only be prescribed by the regulations of the foundation in cases where the law explicitly authorises this. The Universities Act only contains one such authorisation, which concerns the procedure for nominating the candidates of the founders for the university board (section 24(3)). This exception is justified by the fact that the nomination of candidates is an expression of the founders’ will.”
TREY’s views are also based on an expert statement given by Olli Mäenpää, professor of administrative law, in Finnish on 1 March 2018 after the adoption of the current University Regulations. The statement makes the following comments regarding university administration and the relationship between the university’s regulations and the foundation’s regulations:
“The starting point for the clarifications approved by the Parliament is that in order to protect the foundation university’s autonomy, the Universities Act must be applied as the primary statute in the foundation university’s activities and administration. The Foundations Act and the foundation’s regulations are only applicable to the foundation university’s operations in so far as they are in line with the Universities Act and the principle of university autonomy guaranteed by said Act.”
“According to Section 28 of the Universities Act, the organisation of university operations and administration are governed by the university’s regulations and other similar internal regulations. Similarly, the organisation of a foundation university’s operations and administration are also governed by the foundation university’s regulations on the basis of the Universities Act.”
With regard to these statements, TREY suggests that provisions concerning the nomination of the founders’ board member candidates should be retained in the foundation’s regulations. Provisions regarding the work of the appointment committee, the term of office of board members and the election of the University Board’s chairperson should be specified in the University Regulations, which fall under the university autonomy guaranteed by Section 123 of the Constitution.
TREY welcomes the working group’s proposal no. 2. The Academic Board must have the right to decide the procedures of board preparation in line with legislation and regulations. The University Regulations may not, however, limit the Academic Board’s right to appoint the members of the University Board, as this right is guaranteed by the Universities Act. It is the Academic Board’s duty to ensure that the appointed members meet the requirements set out in the Universities Act. TREY would like the University to improve the transparency of the board appointment committee’s work. In addition to this, TREY insists that the university community is given the majority and chairmanship in the board appointment committee.
Academic Board’s work and duties
TREY welcomes proposal no. 4 with certain reservations. TREY is a public entity whose special public duty is governed by Section 46 of the Universities Act. TREY is also responsible for nominating student representatives for the administrative bodies governed by the University Regulations and for other cooperation bodies and working groups. TREY’s point of view is that the members of the Academic Board may participate in the Academic Board’s so-called core team in individual matters. However, TREY would like to point out that it is still the Student Union’s duty to nominate student representatives for the university community’s common groups. We hope that the use of these core teams will be deliberated and that TREY will be asked to nominate the student representatives in such cases as well.
TREY thinks that proposal no. 5 is a good clarification. When the persons who are in charge of preparing matters and documents for meetings are selected openly by administrative bodies, this increases the university community’s chances of understanding the drafting and preparation process. Openness is at the core of the management of Tampere University, and people should be able to follow the decision-making process right from the beginning.
TREY strongly welcomes proposal no. 6 and insists that balanced tripartite representation is ensured in the Academic Board. Tampere University must join the nine Finnish universities whose multi-member administrative bodies already have balanced tripartite representation. Making this change would promote the equal inclusion of different members of the university community, meaning students, professors, teaching and research staff and other personnel, in the activities of the University’s administrative bodies. TREY also warmly welcomes the notion of appointing deputy members for the members of the Academic Board.
The report also mentions that the division of roles and responsibilities between the University’s operational management and the Academic Board lacks clarity. TREY agrees with the report and is in favour of clarifying the roles and responsibilities by amending the legislation. Specifying the roles and responsibilities clearly in the Universities Act would clarify the University’s internal decision-making, which would also support university autonomy and tripartite decision-making.
The working group’s report raises the need to review the standing order on the election of student representatives. From TREY’s perspective a review is welcomed, provided that it is kept in mind that the Student Union has a special public duty under Section 46 of the Universities Act to nominate student representatives for the university bodies specified in Chapter 3 of said Act. The Student Union appoints the student representatives in line with its own rules and regulations.
The roles of the provost and vice presidents
TREY considers it important that the roles of the operational management are made clear and that the responsibilities are described in an understandable manner. This is a way of fostering trust in the university community. TREY finds the working group’s proposal no. 7 important because the University Regulations currently lack sufficiently detailed definitions of what the roles of the provost and vice presidents are and what their relationship with the president is. Due to university autonomy, the University Regulations should include separate provisions on the responsibilities of the vice presidents. If the president decides to hand over any of the responsibilities specified in Section 25 of the Universities Act to another body or person, the university community should be clearly informed about this. Defining the roles of the provost and the vice presidents clearly in the University Regulations would promote the transparency of the University’s administration. TREY also wants to improve the appointment processes of the operational management. The University Regulations should have clear descriptions of the election of vice presidents (including the number of vice presidents, required qualifications and the election method). The University Regulations should also include similar provisions on the appointment of the provost.
Appointment of the deans
The working group’s proposal no. 8 is warmly welcomed by TREY, provided that the dean appointment committee has student and staff representation. Under the principle of subsidiarity, it is important for the faculty council to appoint a representative to this committee. When student representatives are being selected, it should be kept in mind that the Student Union’s public duty is to nominate student representatives for university bodies according to its own rules.
TREY finds the working group’s proposal no. 9 important in terms of subsidiarity. It is important to have the faculty council involved in the recruitment process of the dean. TREY proposes that faculty councils should be included in and heard during the appointment process of the dean.
Meetings of faculty councils and other decision-making bodies
Work of faculty councils
TREY sees the importance of the working group’s proposal no. 10, which aims to increase the role of faculty councils in questions of operational and financial importance. TREY’s opinion is that the faculty council should be turned into a genuinely strategic body where operational and financial priorities are determined. TREY suggests that the dean would be responsible for involving the university community in the preparation of important matters of common concern, such as action plans and financial plans. This means that TREY would like to clarify the dean’s responsibilities and the role of faculty councils. Openness is at the core of the management of Tampere University, and important issues of common concern are discussed with the university community. Centralising decision-making powers to the hands of the University’s management has alienated the university community from the University’s key issues, which is why the community’s official right to make decisions must be increased. What this change would accomplish is that decisions pertaining to academic autonomy, i.e. education and research, would be made close to the operational level inside faculties under the direction of faculty councils. The dean would consequently be responsible for the preparation of the faculty’s important matters.
TREY welcomes the working group’s proposal no. 11 regarding the appointment of professors. Professors should be appointed with the help of appointment committees, which have student and staff representation.
Proposal no. 12 highlights an important issue. TREY would also like to point out that faculty councils do not currently take the special characteristics of different fields into account enough. At the moment, the faculties differ a great deal in size, and different fields have very different types of needs. For this reason TREY’s point of view is that the size of faculty councils should be determined on a case-by-case basis. TREY would like to point out that if any changes will be made to the size of faculty councils, the changes should be based on the faculties’ needs and decided in an inclusive process in line with the principle of subsidiarity. Attention should also be paid to maintaining balanced tripartite representation within the faculty councils. The decision on the size of a faculty council could be made by the president after hearing the faculty’s views on the matter. TREY is also in favour of inviting external expert members to join the faculty councils because this would promote academic dialogue with the surrounding society. Since the expert members would be excluded from voting, balanced tripartite representation would still be maintained.
TREY welcomes the working group’s proposal no. 13. Providing the necessary documents for the decision-making bodies well in advance promotes responsible decision-making. TREY would also like to point out that the entire university community must be given a genuine opportunity to follow and participate in decision-making. This is why TREY proposes that all documents used in decision-making should be made electronically available to the entire community. TREY would like the university community to be able to access the decision-making documents without having to make a request. Improving the transparency of decision-making will allow the members of the university community to keep up with matters concerning them.
Transparency in communication and decision-making
The working group’s proposal no. 14 is essential in terms of the openness and transparency of the University’s operations. At the moment, the University’s internal financing principles, financial plan and budget are not openly discussed with the university community. In 2020, the University has been preparing its internal financing model under the operational management’s direction. The drafting process was not conducted transparently, and administrative bodies were not involved in evaluating the indicators. TREY issued a statement on the draft of the University’s internal financing model on 6 May 2020 to explain students’ thoughts on funding. TREY’s point of view is that faculty councils should be given a stronger role in the financial planning processes of faculties to make drafting and preparation more transparent. TREY also finds that it would be important for the University to establish a system which would help monitor statistics accurately and pay attention to not only quantitative indicators but also qualitative indicators.
TREY welcomes the working group’s proposal no. 15 because the University should promote not only the inclusion of the university community but also community involvement and interaction. TREY points out that the University could cooperate with the Student Union to create opportunities and student-friendly platforms for interaction with students.
The working group’s proposal no. 16 is welcomed by TREY: the University is a multidisciplinary science community whose extensive and high-quality academic expertise should be put to use in different development projects. TREY points out that the involvement of members of the academic staff in development projects will demand flexibility from the staff members when negotiating work plans with their supervisors. TREY also notes that development projects should have student representation if the project is linked to matters which are of particular concern to students.
TREY finds the working group’s proposal no. 17 important in terms of efficient planning of the University’s activities. Under the principle of subsidiarity, the staff resources of the University’s faculties and services should not be overstretched. Instead, the focus should be on the comprehensive management of processes and activities. Since universities are demanding expert organisations, proactive management would promote the well-being of the organisation’s members. TREY would like the University to focus on improving interaction and coordination. Establishing annual wheels for the University’s different services and administrative bodies would allow the university community to follow and participate in decision-making processes from drafting to decision-making.
TREY finds it extremely important for the University’s culture that the university community is encouraged to participate extensively in decision-making. The working group’s proposal no. 18 is particularly important for ensuring that the members of the university community can genuinely participate in commenting. If the comment periods are short, the large student community and the student organisations do not have a genuine chance to participate in drafting the university community’s shared statements. In order to promote its values, the University should understand how limiting community involvement can affect the accomplishment of the University’s values: openness, diversity, courage, critical thinking, erudition and responsibility. Short comment periods can, however, be justified if the grounds for such procedure are explained.
What’s missing from the working group’s report?
TREY’s opinion is that the following aspects should also be taken into consideration along with the matters mentioned above:
- The councils working under the Academic Board must have balanced tripartite representation.
- The University’s management group must have balanced tripartite representation.
- Before making decisions on academic matters that are within the scope of the University Board, the University Board must hear the views of the Academic Board. This will not require amendments to existing legislation.
- International students and staff members should be allowed to participate in decision-making using English on all levels of administration.
- The right of initiative must be ensured for all members of the university community.
- Documents used in the election process of the president must be made public. Materials used in decision-making must be made public and accessible to the university community.
- Documents used in the preparation of the appointment of University Board members must be made public and accessible to the university community.
- When appointing the University’s operational management, the University Board should be assisted by appointment committees where students and staff must be represented.
- The terms of office of University Board members should be extended to avoid having an appointment process every year.
- The University Board must have an annual wheel listing university community hearings and discussions between different administrative bodies.
Annika Nevanpää Venla Monter
Chair of the Executive Board Secretary General