Statement: The economic policies of Tampere University break down people as well as walls

We appeal to the Board of Tampere University that it returns for further consideration the facilities development action plan which it is set to discuss at its meeting on 12 November. The proposed plan does not take into enough consideration the effects that the reduction of facilities has on teaching, research, and students’ well-being. We believe that the proposed cuts to the University’s facilities would have serious consequences on the quality of teaching and research, as well as the community’s well-being and confidence in the University.

We students are disappointed in the way that the University attempts to stabilise its finances through the currently on-going cooperation negotiations and the proposed cuts to facilities. Student union magazine Visiiri published an article on the University’s financial situation on 21 October (article in Finnish), in which the University’s Director of Finance Patrik Marjamaa stated that “the target of the Board has been that the return of investment capital could be allocated for new initiatives and development of education and research.” We think that the basic functions of the university, in this case the support services and facility and personnel policies, should be secured before making new initiatives. This is especially true in the current situation, as concrete examples of these initiatives and allocations of funds are yet to be shown. Now is not the time to make cuts to the basic functions – the focus should be in recovering from the pandemic. The proposed cuts to facilities would have immediate effect in our community. Quality teaching and research and a healthy community are prerequisites for a top university, and cuts that affect them either directly or indirectly do not support the University’s strategic goals.

The arguments for these operations to stabilise finances include that the University has not been successful enough in the financial competition of the Ministry of Education and Culture, which means the basic funding will be reduced by around five million euros in the upcoming years. We find it contradictory that the University attempts to stabilise its finances by functions that will decrease the level of teaching even further, by, for example, transferring the tasks of support services to the teaching and research personnel. These measures will further weaken the standard of our university, and, thus, its funding.  This kind of economic policy is not very far-reaching, and it supports the opinion had in our community: that the University’s decision-making actions lack predictability and cautiousness.

The decisions to cut personnel and facilities in an attempt to stabilise the finances do not match the University’s values of openness and responsibility. The university community is frustrated with how our views and needs seem to be of no importance to the university management. Decisions that affect the university community on a wide scale are made in a manner that does not create trust, and it is starting to harm the University’s credibility and reputation as a provider of quality teaching and research. The commotion that is continuously caused by decision-making overshadows the achievements made in our university. The constant negative attention that the University receives is soon starting to affect the attractiveness of the University as a place to study and work at, as well as current students’ willingness to finish their studies here. This worrying effect goes beyond the university community, as well: the economy in Tampere will suffer if the quality of education goes down, and the choices made by the University will also affect the attractiveness of the city of Tampere as a place to move to and stay at.

We criticise the way that the proposal on cuts to facilities has been prepared and brought to the Board. The university community did not have enough time to participate in the preparation. During the round of comments, all necessary information, such as proposed alternative actions for the cuts to facilities, was not available even to those making the comments. It appears that out of the comments made by Faculty Councils, TREY, and other operators, mainly positive comments were included in the summary and critical views and comments were left in separate attachments. We encourage the Board to look into the comments from the community in full detail, as they provide a significantly more diverse view into the matter. TREY’s comment stresses the importance of university facilities to students’ well-being, and the comment made by the Faculty of Social Sciences’ Council, for example, is significantly more critical in tone than what the summary implies.

We hope that the Board returns the action plan concerning the development of the University’s facilities for further consideration, and that the preparation of the plan after that truly allows the participation of the community and is done with enough time and transparency. We also call for for a discussion on what the university’s economic policies should be like so that they would support the basic functions of the university in the long run.

More information:

Chair of the Board Iiris Taubert,

Secretary General Venla Monter,

We will gather for a demonstration in Sorsapuisto near Tampere-talo on Friday 12 November from 8.45 AM to 9.15 AM to make our voices heard. We appeal to the Board so that it refers back the University’s facilities development action plan. The preparation of the plan needs to take into account what our community has to say on the matter! Read more about the demonstration on its own event page.