Our concern when looking at the current trends in Finnish university reconstruction is the disappearance of small departments and programs. This is happening within Åbo Akademi University, however it is not a solitude problem within only our university, but rather an international trend where larger units are more funding-friendly and perceived more efficient for the management.
The funding challenges that have caught our attention are small departments’ possibilities to remain intact within bigger institutional reconstruction, as well as to attract compulsory funding and researchers due to lack of consistent funding. This may in the end lead to a decreased level of research. Finally yet importantly, we recognize more possibilities for ‘trendy’ subjects to establish public – private funding corporation.
On the one hand, the Vaasa Energy cluster and studies supplied by the local universities devour and extinguish smaller subjects. Students within energy technology from the Vaasa University and Åbo Akademi/Novia are in for opportunities and a remarkably good research position for the next decade. The city of Vaasa engages in this discipline by organizing a yearly one week long ‘Energy week’, including conferences, seminars, awareness raising events among the public and educational institutions and so forth.
On the other hand, subjects sustaining and developing the rural region of Ostrobothnia, such as rural and regional studies are neglected in this era of the energized Vaasa. These studies linked to rural, urban and an environmentally sustainable future at Åbo Akademi and Vaasa University have minimalistic visibility to present themselves and reach out to the public through the same major promotion supported by, for example the city of Vaasa. Therefore, funding from the region and its municipalities is more likely to be allocated towards energy studies than rural and regional studies.
We are concerned that the focus has been turned from the human and social capital towards management efficiency and financial resources. We ask ourselves where the appreciation for humans and humanistic studies has gone. For example, at Vaasa University the humanistic division of languages are redirected to Jyväskylä. From Åbo Akademi, on the other side of the Brändö bride, we ask ourselves if a university without a language study unit will be a scientifically holistic or a loosely fluctuating entity in the future?
In conclusion, as we discussed these issues in our University pedagogic studies 2 during this semester, we consider the needs of human care and social awareness to be raised. Internationally universities tend to move towards resource sharing, funding in order to attract more funding, and students. Finances have become the most important element for universities around the world. Do we want to live with this?
3rd of May, 2017.
By Alexandra Holm, Hasan Habes and Kristina Svels