Hanna Kosonen, Minister of Science and Culture, Finland, details Finland’s priorities in science policy
In a socially, economically and ecologically sustainable society, the economy is managed for the people, not the other way round. Sustainable economic growth is built on a high rate of employment and strong public finances and the Finnish government rates education and research very highly. Education and culture are an important part of our Finnish and European value systems and are important and necessary means of guaranteeing individual freedoms.
In the future, our citizens’ wellbeing will continue to draw on knowledge and skills and work and entrepreneurship. Our challenge and goal in Finland is to keep our level of education and competence at an excellent level and even back to the top of the world league. We want to create the best possible conditions for the best working life in the world. We want to be a nation with happy and competent professionals where every person’s knowledge and skills are put to good use.
Our stated goal is that by 2030, the Finnish public and private sectors together will invest 4% of the GDP in research and innovation activities in an effective and profitable manner. These investments will improve, for their part, the wellbeing of the population and society. Working together for this, both in Finland and abroad, is our duty and a strength.
Higher education in Finland is provided by the universities and the universities of applied sciences. Both sectors have their own profiles. Universities emphasise scientific research and instruction, whereas universities of applied sciences adopt a more practical approach. However, all higher education institutions are autonomous in organising their instruction and academic year. Entry to higher education is based on student selection with a healthy competition of many applicants. Higher education institutions use various student selection criteria. Most commonly these include success in matriculation examination and entrance tests. Equal access to higher education is ensured by a wide institutional network, free education, student financial aid, as well as through flexible pathways to higher education. Efforts have also been made to lower the threshold to apply to higher education by developing an on-line joint application system.
Institutions of higher education aim to improve the quality of education by revamping education content, teaching methods, learning environments and the competence of teachers, as well as to increase cooperation. The institutions need to make full use of the possibilities offered by digitalisation. They develop their student admissions, procedures for the recognition of prior learning and degree programmes in order to step up national and international mobility.
The objective of Finland’s higher education policy is to develop higher education institutions as an internationally competitive entity where each institution also flexibly responds to regional needs. The activities of universities and universities of applied sciences promote Finnish competitiveness, well-being, education and learning as well as sustainable development. Cooperation and transparency are the key drivers for research and innovation. We need more coherent RDI policies and further support for the building of internationally attractive knowledge clusters and innovation systems which, in turn, will help us achieve our ambitious 4% goal. Using shared approaches and legislative means to strengthen open research and innovation will be crucial in the near future.
Science policy helps channel competence into forms such as information, knowledge, processes, products and services. Science policy is also inherently linked to innovation policy and it supports knowledge production. It also enhances the competence level of citizens and the nation in collaboration with different stakeholders to make research carried out in Finland more visible, international and effective. The purpose of science policy is to ensure that the organisations that carry out research can engage in research in a way and to a standard that is typical of highly competitive international science communities. Science policy also helps make researched information easily available for widespread use in society.
It is now a global trend to use digital and open approach methods to generate high-standard research faster and more effectively. The objective of science policy is to raise the international standard as well as the knowledge and competence base of Finnish science and to increase the innovation capacity in the national economy, to bolster the research infrastructure and safeguard the openness of research and science.
The openness of science and widespread use of information in society are important aspects as science and research have an important role also in Finland in solving the world’s wicked problems from climate change to other threats to planetary and human well-being that all need urgent solutions.