Some regulations in the controversial University Regulations of the new Tampere University have been interpreted as being against the law and restricting the university autonomy which is guaranteed by the Constitution of Finland. Representatives of central groups in the university community have filed a complaint regarding the matter with the parliamentary ombudsman of Finland on Tuesday 6 March 2018. The unlawful regulations were addressed in the statements the university community requested from Professor of Public Law Juha Lavapuro (University of Turku) and the Professor of Administrative Law Olli Mäenpää (University of Helsinki). According to Professor Mäenpää’s statement: “In order to implement good governance, secure legal certainty and avoid problems with application of laws, it is necessary for the board of the university to correct the unlawful regulations into lawful ones”. The unlawful regulations have to do with, for example, how the executive board is appointed and who acts as the chair of the university’s multi-member administrative body.
The complaint filed with the parliamentary ombudsman requests an investigation on the lawfulness of the transitional board’s procedures and the University Regulations. The complaint has been filed together by the University of Tampere chapters of the Finnish Union of Professors and the Union for University Teachers in Finland (TaYLL), Tampere University Association of Researchers and Teachers (Tatte), the Student Union of the University of Tampere and TaYHY (local member of the Association of Finnish University and Research Establishment Staff YHL).
”Filing a complaint with the ombudsman was the only option in this situation. The university community has demanded the removal of the unlawful regulations since 2016 when the first drafts of the Tampere University Foundation’s charter were published. Nevertheless, some of these regulations ended up in the University Regulations approved in February”, says Sanni Lehtinen, chair of the Student Union of the University of Tampere. Professor Mari Hatavara, chair of the University of Tampere chapter of the Finnish Union of University Professors, thinks that it is very unfortunate that the views of the new university community were ignored even when the draft regulations were available for commenting. The demands from the Tampere3 advisory board, which represents the new university community of the two universities and the university of applied sciences, were not answered.
”It has been horrifying to watch the transitional board walking over the university autonomy without regard to the law”, says university researcher Hanna Kuusela from the Tampere University Association of Researchers and Teachers. “It’s no accident that university autonomy is regulated by the constitution; the autonomy is supposed to guarantee the objectivity of research regardless of short-sighted trends”, she says. Kuusela thinks it is possible that a request for investigation would be made about the actions of the transitional board. Hatavara adds: “Constitutional university autonomy and freedom of education are necessary to ensure the quality of scientific research. Universities must be able to develop and interact with the society freely and on their own terms.”
The new Tampere University is to start operating on 1 January 2019. The University Regulations of the new university brought on a walkout and a surge of feedback at the University of Tampere.
Professor Mari Hatavara, chair, University of Tampere chapter of Finnish Union of University Professors, tel. 040 190 1565.
Student Sanni Lehtinen, chair, Student Union of the University of Tampere, tel. 050 361 2845
University researcher Hanna Kuusela, Deputy Vice-president, Tampere University Association of Researchers and Teachers (Tatte), tel. 050 514 2264