Principles of the academic research policy
The Finnish Academy of Science and Letters is an independent community of researchers and notable scholars in all branches of the arts and sciences. As is traditional for academies of this kind, its membership is limited and new members are appointed on the strength of their academic merits. The Academy functions as an expert organization devoted principally to pure research and with responsibility for the long-term planning of higher education policy. It provides statements and takes initiatives in a broad range of matters connected with science and the arts and the people who practise and teach these.
The Academy supports science and the humanities in Finland by distributing grants principally to young researchers from sources administered by it: the Vilho, Yrjö and Kalle Väisälä Foundation, the Eino Jutikkala Fund, the Mathematics Fund and the Hilkka and Otto Brusiin and Emil Öhmann Foundations. The total sums distributed annually in recent years have been around two million euros. In addition, the Academy awards prizes to outstandingly successful scholars and arranges meetings to discuss topics of current interest in science, the humanities and higher education policy. It also runs an Academy Club for Young Scientists, aimed at increasing the visibility of young researchers in the academic world in Finland and bringing their achievements to the fore in interdisciplinary discussions.
Since the 1970s the Academy’s membership connections with international organizations have been looked after primarily by the Council for Finnish Academies, and it also has two representatives on the board of the Federation of Finnish Learned Societies.
The broad general aim of the Finnish Academy of Science and Letters is to promote advanced study and research in science and the humanities in Finland and in particular to support young persons working in these fields. The nation’s academic success rests on the high-level international results achieved by its scholars and research groups and their ability to develop and maintain inspiring and creative research environments. Coordination of the interests of the various instances engaged in these fields and of the support provided for them is the responsibility of Finnish science and education policy in general and is felt to be a particular priority for the Finnish Academy of Science and Letters.
The weight attached to national academies of this kind, especially in Europe, has increased greatly in recent times, and this enables the Finnish Academy of Science and Letters and its members to place their expertise at the disposal of a wider international community of scholars than ever before.
The Academy’s science and higher education policy
Recent international comparisons have shown that Finland’s universities have significantly poorer resources with which to fund pure research than those of many other European countries, the explanation for which lies in the greater ability of the universities in those countries to channel money of their own into such research. The Academy is in favour of both an increase in the funding for pure research that is open to competition and a reform of the universities’ internal financing to allow significantly more support to be given to internationally attractive research and to promote the emergence of new, innovative research environments.
The Academy is ready to support global networking in scientific matters and the development of Finnish research as a part of the international scene. This would imply active participation in international collaborative projects, greater mobility on the part of Finnish researchers and improvements in the conditions of work for scientists coming to Finland from overseas. Decisions regarding support for international projects requiring exceptionally large financial inputs should be taken on the basis of the benefits they offer for Finnish research and with due consideration for the material and human resources available in this country.
Success in a particular branch of science or the humanities calls for long-term commitment from a sufficiently large body of research staff without any demands for immediate applicability of the results. It is also important that the research organizations and teams should be led and trained in a spirit of mutual equality both at the doctoral dissertation stage and beyond. As in other European countries, there are indications in Finland that it may be difficult in the future to persuade talented young people to undertake research. This may call for improvements in both earnings and career predictability for young research students.
European higher education policy
In the opinion of the Finnish Academy of Science and Letters it would be important in Finland to place more emphasis on pure research in both national and international higher education policy and in the associated decisions with regard to finance. More attention is now being given to the role of the European umbrella organizations for academies of science and letters as independent representatives of pure research in discussions relating to the European Union’s science and higher education policies and in the deliberations of the European Research Council. The Academy is in agreement with the desire of such organizations to strengthen the representation of the academic community in these connections and is prepared to work for an increase in the possibilities for Finnish scholars to participate in European science policy and in advanced international activities associated with this whenever the issues concerned are of interest to Finland.
Action in support of political decision-making processes
The Finnish Academy of Science and Letters is in favour of bringing the results of advanced research closer to the roots of political decision-making. With this in mind, it will continue to develop its Statements of Opinion publication series in order to support such activity and at the same time to serve as a forum through which researchers can present their views on issues affecting society as a whole.