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Helsinki University to possibly cut 1,200 jobs, save 86m

Just days after being listed as being among the top 100 universities in the world, it was announced that Helsinki University is gearing up for a rigorous savings plan and may cut up to 1,200 jobs. The public university announced on Tuesday that job cuts and other measures were in the works in order to save 86 million euros.

Helsingin yliopiston päärakennus.
Helsingin yliopiston päärakennus. Image: Kristiina Lehto / Lehtikuva

The University of Helsinki announced earlier this week that cuts are forcing them into a savings plan that could involve slashing up to 1,200 jobs there. The university’s rector Jukka Kola says that the institution is aiming to save about 86 million euros.

“The need to save is not yet acute, but we need to start a savings plan as soon as possible in order to adapt the university’s finances with the new economic situation,” Kola says.

The savings plan is still in early stages and, he says, careful analysis and strategies need to be made "to find the best solutions."

“The important thing is that we must not jeopardise our main objectives,” he says. “We need to keep our teaching and research at high levels. It will be a tough challenge.”

“It remains to be seen what the future looks like, how much money will come from the state and how much we need to get from other sources, including industry, international revenue or research money,” Kola says.

Future high rankings in danger?

The savings measure announcement comes just days after the university was listed in 96th place on the prestigious QS World University Rankings for 2015/16. The university currently employs about 9,000 workers and some 36,500 students.

The institution’s new savings plans didn’t come as a surprise to the rector of the university’s Swedish School of Social Science (Sos & Kom) Mirjam Kalland.

She says she’s decided to keep a positive eye towards the future, and says there isn’t any point in speculation at this point; there could be new financing possibilities not yet explored.

“But of course it feels unfair if we’re the only university in the country that reaches top university lists,” Kalland says. “If you forcefully undermine business opportunities, it can cause quality problems.”

“The university has seen a lot in its 375 year history. It’s clear that we can manage this, too,” she says.

Staff "shocked"

Satu Henttonen, the university’s staff association chair, says that news of the savings plans were unexpected.

“It’s very serious and we are quite shocked,” Henttonen says, but at the same time she said she understands that the university needs to shore up its finances.

Henttonen has spoken with some university employees and says they were troubled by the news. The most concerned of them, she says, are those who have administrative or other jobs.

“The university’s core functions are research and education,” Henttonen says. “Therefore the number of teachers, professors or researchers can’t be reduced by very much.”

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