Heads of University Management & Administration Network Europe

Study Visit - University of Helsinki, September 10-12, 2017

Rising from Ashes: re-imagining university functions after a financial crisis

Hosted by the University of Helsinki

In 2015-16 Finnish higher education had to face up to the reality of significant and far reaching funding cuts as part of the government’s wider fiscal strategy. 

Its 15 universities and 26 polytechnics learned that their core public funding would be reduced by an eye watering €500 million over the next four years and that €100 million of research funding would be cut.

HUMANE’s study visit “Rising from the ashes – re-imaging university functions after a financial crisis”, provides an opportunity to investigate how the University of Helsinki took the opportunity to use this crisis to re-think its operations in a fundamental way. 

In addition to providing insight into the University’s strategic context, the Helsinki Study Visit will provide an opportunity to understand what the University chose to do by way of response, as well as how it went about implementing its readjustment plan.

The study visit will be an intensive one and a half day engagement, with informal networking opportunities and plenty of opportunity for participative group work and discussion. 


Study Visit briefing with Ian Creagh

Session 1: Background and framework

  • European and Finnish landscape
  • Scale of Budget cuts for the University of Helsinki & the government’s policy rationale
  • New Strategic plan

Session 2: Re-imagining University Services

  • Organisation built on central services and on-site services on campuses
  • Service sectors cutting across the organisational structure
  • Administrative staff of campuses operating in a matrix
  • User-oriented approach in service and process development

Session 3:  Big Wheel  - Reform of the Degree Programmes and Services

  • Comprehensive Bachelor’s degree programmes and national and international Master's degree programmes transcending boundaries between disciplines, units and faculties 
  • Constructing the degree programmes from the point of view of competence and employability
  • Re-organizing the support services in line with the new demands of student guidance 

Session 4:  Case HiLIFE

  • Competitive research
  • Research infrastructure
  • Profiling
  • Tenure track

Session 5: Strategy for Future Funding

  • Matched-funding scheme
  • International funding 

 Session 6:  Evidence-based decision-making

  • Building a cross sectional Institutional Research unit
  • Know your organisational data

The study visits involve a significant amount of informal interaction between the hosts and the participants. The programmes are designed to allow participants to learn about the hosts’ lessons learned as well as their successes; and for the hosts to learn from participants, particularly during the structured feedback sessions.