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President Mari Walls at the Opening Ceremony: Commitment to long-term funding needed to safeguard scientific research and competitiveness

Mari Walls
Mari Walls, President of Tampere University, addressed the financial situation of universities at the opening of the academic year on Tuesday 7 September.

“After the merger phase, Tampere University will have to balance its finances in a situation where shrinking public spending will have a major impact on universities’ funding. The planned significant cut in the funding of scientific research by the Academy of Finland would also hit Tampere University hard,” Walls said.

“In the coming years, the university sector will also be challenged by the Government Programme’s goal of having at least half of young adults complete a higher education degree by 2030. Higher education institutions are expected to meet this target without additional investment to fully cover the costs,” Walls added.

Developments in the operating environment and the economic outlook require Tampere University to make clear strategic choices and ensure the effectiveness of the measures it is taking.

“In order to safeguard and strengthen the University’s core activities – research, education and interaction with society – it is important to promote facilities use in line with the campus development strategy, reform support service functions, and fully realise the synergies of the merger," the President said.

In terms of core activities in the coming years, Tampere University will focus on the quality and impact of research and education and on strengthening international attractiveness and retention. This autumn will see the launch of two openings that will strengthen the University’s research: cross-disciplinary research platforms and a new multidisciplinary research institute.

“Universities have a common message to our Government: the best insurance for the future is to invest in research and education. A strong scientific base is key to safeguarding our capacity for innovation, boosting sustainable growth, and preparing for crises. Securing Finland’s scientific research and competitiveness requires a commitment to long-term funding of high-quality research and education, and increased investment in RDI,” Walls added.

Director Mari Pantsar of Sitra, who gave the keynote speech, addressed the crisis of ecological sustainability.  

“The best motivation for action to solve the ecological sustainability crisis is scientific knowledge, which shows that the problems are still solvable from the scientific, technological and economic points of view. Now we need to solve them politically as well,” Pantsar said.

“Fortunately, politics is made by people meaning it can be reversed. After all, we could not change the facts of natural sciences,” Pantsar pointed out.

In her speech, Iiris Taubert, Chair of the Tampere Student Union (TREY), urged students to take care of their own well-being.

“Nothing is so important that it takes precedence over the well-being of each of us,” Taubert pointed out.

“During the new academic year, the COVID-19 pandemic may already be easing, making many things that were once part of our everyday lives possible again. But it will still take a little more concerted effort from all of us. So, get your vaccinations, wear your masks and be responsible, and soon we will be able to greet each other in the University’s corridors, cafeterias, lecture halls, and basements. Let’s join to make this a great academic year,” Taubert said.

At the ceremony, Tampere University’s Alumnus of 2021 nomination was announced. He is Antti Kaunonen, Doctor of Science (Technology) and Director of Cargotec’s Kalmar business area.

On the opening day, several awards were presented to members of the University community. The University unveiled the Social Impact Award and the Student Union TREY rewarded good teachers. The best doctoral theses and merited publishers were also honoured.

 

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