“Educational responsibility system needs a reform”
According to Dean of the Faculty of Technology at the University of Turku Jaakko Järvi, universities could be given more autonomy to aim their education and award degrees more freely than at present, because successfully built degree programmes would become stronger and the unsuccessful ones would wither away. What do you think about this idea, TEK’s Director of Public Affairs Juhani Nokela?
– If we shift towards a market-based model, the funding should in practice come directly via the students, as is the case in higher education systems where students pay tuition fees. In Finland, education is funded by the state and the state decides who has the right to offer specific degrees. This ensures that education is also available in small fields that are important for the nation, but do not attract large numbers of students. We at TEK feel that the educational responsibility system needs a reform to strengthen the autonomy of universities, but in such a way that the whole picture can be managed to benefit Finland as a whole, not just an individual university.
– The current system is a compilation that has taken shape over the decades, where different fields vary greatly in scope and the division under the decrees of the Government and the Ministry of Education and Culture is somewhat inconsistent. It would be beneficial to simplify and clarify the structure, in addition to reviewing the different fields of education in light of what is the right level of regulation and detail. I do not yet have any answers to this last issue, but we need more information, deliberation and discussion.
The University of Turku may want to extend its educational responsibilities to include industrial engineering and management. What do you think about this idea?
– The University of Turku is off to a great start with its new degree programmes and has just been granted educational responsibility in electrical and automation technology. We at TEK believe that it would make more sense to continue developing the new programmes for now, instead of starting any new ones. Education in industrial engineering and management is also widely available throughout Finland, so perhaps there is a need to extend the existing programmes instead of establishing a new one.
A key policy of the present Government is to improve the level of education and address the shortage of skilled labour throughout the country. Does TEK agree with this policy or not?
– Finland has fallen behind in the level of education and it looks like my generation, the one born at the turn of the 70s and 80s, may be the most educated generation, if no changes are made. This trend poses a threat to the prosperity of Finland, which is why there is good reason to improve the level of education. We also know that there are and will be jobs available for highly educated experts in technology, so we are not opposed to increasing enrolment. Unfortunately, national governments are often guilty of not providing the necessary resources for increasing enrolment, but instead offering individual temporary funds, which are not adequate to improve the situation.