In English
30.3.2017

Tampere 3 close to the finish line – record of conflicts expunged

Zackery blanton / 123rf

Tampere 3 project is racing towards the establishment of the new foundation university. When the government’s purse strings are tight, the funding has to come from donors. But what to do to the foundation regulations that according to legal experts are still problematic?

Aino Heikkonen and Milja Keinänen, text
Jatta Vuorinen, translation

We are very close to the finish line, almost there. (Kari Neilimo, Tampere3 executive)

If the higher education institute troops of Tampere appeared scattered towards the end of last year, this year the lineup of Tampere 3 project, aiming for the merging of three higher education institutions, is in formation.

The events of last year, that put a stop to the higher education fusion, are all but a faint memory no one wants to spare a thought to anymore. The question round for the rectors of the University of Tampere (UTA), Tampere University of Technology (TUT) and Tampere University of Applied Sciences (Tamk), produced a complementary set of responses according to which the objective right now is to establish the foundation and have the new university community up and running by January 1st 2019.

When the discordances are brought up their very existence, now or before, is brushed aside.

Things that hindered the decision making process in TUT last year were probably related to the establishment of the new foundation and merging TUT into it. Also TUT’s board had some concerns about the sufficiency of funds, but I do not consider either of these issues discordances. (Liisa Laakso, UTA)

I am not familiar with such issues [discordances]. However, when it comes to such a large project as this one, there will be issues to which the separate parties will have several different viewpoints. It is a part of any large project. (Mika Hannula, TUT)

   I am not sure about any real discordances, surely there were some issues last year that just were not in order. (Markku Lahtinen, Tamk)

 

So what happened last year? Last November the board of the TUT foundation put a stop to the preparations of the higher education institute fusion known as Tampere 3 and according to publicly circulating information this decision came as a surprise to for example the administration of the University of Tampere. At the time, included in TUT foundation’s key demands was that the parties must reach a mutual understanding of the strategic management system of the new university. Also the funding for Tampere 3 was seen as insufficient and the schedule unrealistic.

On the other hand, UTA and Tamk were committed to the schedule according to which the new university would have been launched in 2018.

After some time, TUT retracted their previous decision.

After the Christmas break, Kari Neilimo stepped to lead the troops of Tampere 3. He has had a long career in both business and academia and is also the current Chairman of the Board of the University of Tampere.

TUT’s schedule demand was rephrased in January for an additional year, which also helps to revitalise the project.

The funding for the project is in order: as stated in the contracts between the Ministry of Education and Culture (MINEDU) and the higher education institutions, Tampere 3 will receive 22 million euros during 2017–2020. TUT and UTA will receive four million annually combined for the transition period and Tamk will receive 1.5 million annually.

The condition set by the Ministry of Education and Culture also serve as a booster for amicable cooperation: if the project does not progress as planned in 2017, the ministry will remove the funding from the contracts of the higher education institutions. According to Tekniikka & Talous magazine (19.12.2016), the ministry had informed the rectors of the higher education institutes already in December that the cooperation better continue should they wish to receive additional funding for any purpose in the future.

In addition to funding the transition period of the project, the government is expected to capitalize the foundation university. The capital will serve as the core of the foundation’s wealth and will not be used for operating expenses. Alternatively the capital can be invested and the profits used for the benefit of the university.

The administration of the TUT foundation has demanded the government to capitalize the new foundation university with 200 million euros. So far the government has agreed to 50,000 euros. The foundation document of the new university foundation, dated in February, states that the Finnish government will provide capital for the foundation “to the extent possible”. For example, the government capitalized Aalto University with 50 million euros when it was established.

“I place a lot of weight on how much the Finnish Government is able to capitalize the universities. From that capital, the University of Tampere, namely Tampere 3, will probably receive a considerable sum, but so will other universities”, Kari Neilimo says.

Individual donors will now be systematically approached for funding. The draft of the foundation document of the foundation states that the aim is to collect at least 50 million euros in private capital. Neilimo approaches the fundraising positively.

”If we’re are talking about, let’s say, 30 million in private funding, 4–5 years should be reserved for fundraising, but surely we can get 5–6 million in a year. I have no doubt, it can be done.”

 

 

The mutual understanding of the strategic management system called for by TUT has been at least partially achieved at the end of last year when UTA and Tamk approved the regulations for the new university drafted in the autumn. Before this, the University of Tampere were aiming for a thin set of rules.

Especially the rector’s role in relation to the consistory, the statutory multi-member administrative body of the foundation university, has raised eyebrows. According to the law, the consistory decides on for example the curriculum and degree qualifications and chooses the university board. According to the law, the consistory is threefold: the professors, the staff and the students of the university all have a voice. However, the regulations of the new foundation university state that the chairman of the consistory is “the rector or appointed by the rector”. The higher education institutes have agreed that the practicalities would be handled by a provost which would be one of the vice rectors.

“Surely they are not pulling these out of thin air either.”

An animated public debate has surrounded this issue and national legal experts have also commented on it. The Student Union of the University of Tampere asked Doctor of Law Kaarlo Tuori to provide a statement on the matter. According to him a person outside of the consistory cannot legally act as the chairman. This does not agree with the university’s autonomy. Tuori also states that the foundation regulations cannot be used to give a directive about the chairman of the consistory in the first place.

In addition to the resentment-inducing chairman question, Tuori’s statement addresses the illegalities concerning the selection of the university board. For example, the first board is selected by the current boards despite the fact that in a foundation university the selection of the board should be done by the threefold multi-member administrative body.

The board of the University of Tampere has also requested a statement regarding this issue from Professor of Administrative Law Olli Mäenpää. According to Aviisi’s information the content of Mäenpää’s statement coincides with Tuori’s. Liisa Laakso and Kari Neilimo from UTA, Mika Hannula from TUT and Markku Lahtinen from Tamk all confirm that they are aware of Mäenpää’s statement. However, the rectors of the higher education institutes are not doing any large-scale lobbying when it comes to the regulations. Lahtinen explicitly states that Tamk does not have any special aspirations when it comes to the foundation regulations.

Neilimo emphasises the role of the Ministry of Education and Culture in the process of regulation drafting.

“Surely they are not pulling these out of thin air either.”

Laakso and Hannula say that the drafting of the regulations belongs to the founders and the government. The universities are not the founders of the new foundation university per se, they only signed a commitment to establish a new foundation university. The actual founders are the state of Finland, the city of Tampere, Technology Industries of Finland Centennial Foundation and a large group of other organizations and foundations. The shares of Tamk are brought to the foundation by the city of Tampere.

In the University of Tampere the focus is on the Regulations of the University. It is a document that provides the legal framework concerning organization of the administration and activities of the university.

“Several specialists have confirmed to us that the Regulations of the University prevail over the foundation regulations”, Laakso says.

Kaarlo Tuori’s statement also confirms that the Regulations of the University overrule the foundation regulations should conflicts arise.

Then why are the foundation regulations drafted to possibly clash with the Regulations of the University?

The question round keeps circling the regulations. The administration of the higher education institutions pleads to the state and the founders. According to several of Aviisi’s sources the regulations are in fact drafted in the ministry. Eerikki Nurmi from the Ministry of Education and Culture nevertheless states that the regulations have been drafted in cooperation with the founders and the Executive Group of the project, which also includes representatives of the universities.

Nurmi admits and the ministry is aware of some of the legal experts’ statements but says that they are not entirely corresponding. He does not explicitly state whether the statements will cause a redrafting of the regulations.

 

Indeed several things are moving forward with Tampere 3. Kari Neilimo points out that new solutions for teaching and degree programmes, featuring health, society, leadership and technology, are being created in the field of education.

There is also a separate group for the promotion of research.

2017 has started with important appointments. PhD, M.Econ. Marianne Kukko has been appointed as the Project Director. She will start work in the position in the beginning of April.

One of TUT’s demands at the end of last year was the termination of the project organisation of that time. Three people were working directly under Tampere 3 at the time, the most visible of them the Project Director Päivi Myllykangas. According to Neilimo, the job description of Myllykangas will change and her work will focus on private funding acquisition.

Project Managers for facilities and properties, communications and marketing, information services, human resources and financial administration have been appointed from among the staff members of the University of Tampere and Tampere University of Technology. They are meant to be leaving their current positions during the spring. Important appointments will occur again when the board of the new foundation is selected.

 

Although the discordances are not stated outright, the rectors still see challenges in the Tampere 3 project, all of them different ones. Laakso names the work on the content of the university and the inclusion of the higher education communities into it as the greatest challenge.

”It obviously requires open communication and public discussions.”

Lahtinen is worries about the workload of the people involved in the project and whether they are able to focus on the project enough.

”After all, we are also still running the regular day-to-day of a higher education institution.”

In Hannula’s opinion, the biggest challenge is keeping hold of the individual objectives in the project that requires “unanimity and the ability to see far enough ahead”.

”We mustn’t settle for the university concerns to be simply a sum of its parts.”

According to Aviisi’s information the new foundation university is meant to be established in the end of April. A name for the new university, which was originally supposed to be published in the summer of 2016, has to be agreed upon before that.

At the end of last year the name written on the establishment documents of the foundation still is New University foundation, in reference to the name suggestion by the administration of the TUT foundation, Tampereen uusi yliopisto (New University of Tampere).

The name on the drafts dated in February is foundation X.

 

 

TAMPERE 3 TIMELINE

2014

In the spring Stig Gustavson is invited to discuss the reform of the higher education institutions in Tampere. In the autumn UTA, TUT and Tamk publish an announcement about the creation of a new university in Tampere.

2015

In May the boards of UTA, TUT and Tamk decide on the objective of creating one new university in Tampere.

In September Päivi Myllykangas is appointed as Project Director of the Tampere 3 project.

2016

The Ministry of Education and Culture (MINEDU) appoints a working group, a steering group and an executive group to prepare the establishment of a foundation university. In February the administration of the University of Tampere still advocated for a public university. In March, it is decided that the new university will be a foundation university.

In November the TUT foundation board announces their discontinuation regarding the Tampere 3 fusion project preparations and demands a mutual understanding of the strategic management system, additional funding and a new schedule.

UTA and Tamk approve the new foundation university regulations without modifications.

In December the TUT foundation announces their desire to continue with the Tampere 3 project preparations. MINEDU grants 22 million for the project, with conditions.

2017

Kari Neilimo starts in the position of the Chair of the Executive Group of the Tampere 3 project in January. The commencement of the new university is planned for the beginning of 2019.

In March Marianne Kukko is appointed the Project Director of the Tampere 3 project. Other appointments are also announced.

The new foundation university is set to be established in April.

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