Tatte, #Tampere3 and the Struggle for University Autonomy

The so-called Tampere3 process, initiated in 2017, has remained a burning issue for the academic community at the University of Tampere. The process aims to orchestrate a fusion between the three institutions of higher learning in the city of Tampere -- University of Tampere, Tampere University of Technology, and the Tampere University of Applied Sciences -- and the implementation of this project has been fraught with controversies. Tatte ry has been highly active participant in critical commentary of the project right from the beginnning. Starting from the late autumn of 2017, the various problems of the process have steadily escalated, and Tatte has continued to provide one channel to the protest and opposition of the university community. At the moment, the situation can be described as an ongoing struggle for university autonomy, and it is also fought as a legal battle. As a personnel association, Tatte has consistently defended university self-government, principle of legality and good governance.

 


Tatte has been a participant in the Advisory Board of the Tampere3 project since the project was commenced in 2017, and Tatte has presented its viewpoints at the Board both independently as well as together with the other university personnel associations and the student body. Tatte's position to the planned university fusion as such has been more or less positive. However, the problems in the process suddenly acquired new intensity in November 2017, when the transitional Interim Board of the new foundation university decided to commence the recruitment of the new president for the university prematurely, and with no legitimate authority. During the following process, the Interim Board has continued to overstep its authority, more or less repeatedly in a manner which has a deteriorating impact on the university autonomy.

The academic community, including Tatte as the representative of teachers and researchers, has regularly closed ranks in defense of autonomy and legality. The critical mass was reached in February 2018, when the Interim Board presented a draft for new university regulations. The highly controversial regulations were possibly in violation of the university law and the Finnish Constitution. The reaction of the academic community was swift and decisive, and resulted in a demonstrative walk-out of the university personnel and students, in protest against the new regulations. Tatte has filed a complaint to the Finnish parliamentary ombudsman in April 2018, together with the other personnel associations and the Student Body Tamy.

The protest of the academic community found a new outlet in the first elections for the University Academic Board in March 2018. The elections resulted in a landslide victory of those candidates who had campaigned defending the university autonomy. Two Tatte members were elected to the Academic Board; Hanna Kuusela, one of the organizers of the February walk-out, who raked in astounding 270 votes, and Kirsi Lumme-Sandt, a member of the University Collegiate Body, who received 160 votes. After the spring elections, the struggle for autonomy has continued inside the Academic Board, and the divisions between the representatives of the University of Tampere and the Tampere University of Technology have become very clear. As an additional problem, the temporary President of the Academic Board, Dean Antti Lönnqvist, was not an elected member of the body, but instead appointed by the University Interim Board, in yet another highly questionable exercise of power. This resulted in a complaint filed by the members of the Academic Board to the Administrative Court, and consequently, as the complaint was rejected on technicality, to the Supreme Administrative Court.

The Interim Board changed the regulations unilaterally and arbitrarily in May 2018, as the nomination process of the next University Administrative Board commenced. The move was once again a prime example of questionable governance, and an obvious attempt to tamper with the sovereign position of the Academic Board in the nomination process. The already-polarized situation escalated still further in June, as Professor Mari Hatavara, the Vice-President of the Academic Board, who was in charge of initiating the nomination process of the new University Administrative Board, was pressured to resign after an organized vote of no confidence by the representatives of the University of Technology. The main issue in the summer of 2018 was the right of the members of the academic community to be nominated as members of the new University Administrative Board. This motion was defeated in a vote of ten against ten in the Academic Board, which decided to exclude university personnel from the University Administrative Board in favor of "strategic independence". The decisive vote was cast by President Antti Lönnqvist.

As the autumn of 2018 begins, the main institutions of the new Tampere3 University are in place. The President of the University is Mari Walls, formerly the head of the Finnish Natural Resources Institute, and the position of Provost, who acts as the new President of the Academic Board, has been bestowed to Jarmo Takala from the Tampere University of Technology. The question of the legality of the new university regulations remains to be settled, pending the final verdict of the parliamentary ombudsman.

Media Coverage of the Tampere3 process from November 2017 onward:

 

In spite of being regularly national news, Tampere3 process has so far not featured in the few English-language news sources in Finland such as Yle English. This coverage consists, by necessity, mainly of the university internal news and news distributed by Tatte and Student Body Tamy. A full media coverage of Finnish-language news can be found here. Several notable Finnish scholars and politicians have voiced their opinions on the issue, and Tatte has remained active also on this field.
 

Faculty structure, administrative model, and recruitment of University President:
 

Tampere3 project: major decisions coming up (Tatte, 13.11.2017)

Statement on the draft faculty reorganization proposed by the Tampere University Foundation (Tatte, 1.12.2017)

Statement on the latest Tampere3 faculty draft (Tatte, 17.12.2017)
 

New regulations, walkout, and a complaint to the parliamentary ombudsman:

 

Walk-out against the new regulations draft at the university at noon on Thursday Feb' 8th! (Tatte, 6.2.2018)

Sign the adress and take part in the walkout (Tamy, 7.2.2018)

Questions linger over new regulations (Tatte, 11.2.2018)

The University Regulations were approved – What’s next? (Student Union of Tampere University of Technology, 20.2.2018)

Law professors find the regulations of Tampere3 university in violation of the Constitution. University community has filed a complaint to the Parliamentary Ombudsman (Tatte, 8.3.2018)

 

Academic Board elections and the subsequent legal struggle:

 

Academic Board and the University Autonomy (Jussi Jalonen, 19.3.2018)

The first Academic Board of the new Tampere University elected (University of Tampere, 29.3.2018)

Temporary chair appointed to the Academic Board – Tamy finds the process strange (Tamy, 12.4.2018)

Clash over Tampere University regulations intensifies: two dissenting opinions submitted by ten members in the first Academic Board meeting (Tatte, 19.4.2018)

A complaint filed to the Administrative Court on the exercise of power in the New Tampere University (8.5.2018)

Appeal on behalf of the representation of the university community in the new University Board (8.6.2018)

Statement on behalf of the representation of the university community in the new University Board (14.6.2018)

Disappointment at the new University of Tampere: the university community excluded from the University Board (15.6.2018)