TUT turned 50 and keeps on exploring new avenues despite reduced fundingIn 2015, Tampere University of Technology celebrated its 50th anniversary. In terms of finances, 2015 was a year of major changes for the University.
The theme of TUT’s jubilee was light, which symbolizes life and hope and also bridges TUT into the future. Science and technology are crucial for solving social problems and they pave the way for a brighter future. The jubilee was celebrated on several occasions. The year climaxed in October with the ‘Technology Days’ event intended for the general public.
At the end of the year, the University received an updated strategy for 2016–2020. In the strategy, the University profiles itself as an institution that fosters the well-being of people and the environment, reshapes the competitive landscape of Finland and courageously explores new avenues of research and education in the fields of engineering. In the Tampere3 process, Tampere University of Technology, the University of Tampere and Tampere University of Applied Sciences are taking steps to establish an all-new university in Tampere. Four areas were specified as TUT’s profile areas for research: digital operating environment, energy- and eco-efficiency, health technology and light-based technologies.
The year 2015 saw significant investments in the on-campus learning environments and the development and deployment of new education technology and teaching methods. In September, the new Kampusareena building was taken into use, now offering a modern learning environment with a range of learning facilities and technologies available. Kampusareena welcomed companies at the core of the campus and laid the foundation for encounters between companies and students, along with resulting new discoveries. TUT is well under way in becoming a superior learning environment across Finnish universities.
Universities challenged by reduced funding
The main funding provider, the Finnish state, reduced its funding for the university sector in 2015 by lowering direct government subsidies. Furthermore, the project funding provided by Tekes and the Academy of Finland decreased. The impacts of these cuts also reflected on the research, development and innovation investments made by companies.
Despite the lower funding, TUT’s balance sheet has remained strong, thanks to sensible management of finances. The University’s sound economy will also support systematic operational development in the long run. TUT’s solvency ratio in 2015 was 94 per cent. The income from continuing operations excluding fundraising and investments was approx. -1.6 MEUR, however.
To a significant extent, the reduced funding will also impact TUT’s finances in the years to come.
According to estimates, the funding will be permanently reduced by 10 million euros, i.e. approximately 7 per cent. The Board of the TTY Foundation initiated a three-year adjustment programme in 2015 in order to balance the finances in a controlled manner by the end of 2018. The key measures include the adjustment of the number of employees, increased facility use efficiency and structural changes.
When the times are hard for finances, the foundation form brings welcome benefits. The return on capital of the TTY Foundation can be used for developing the operations. In honour of the jubilee, the Board of the TTY Foundation decided to support research and educational development efforts by handing out altogether five million euros of return on capital in 2015-2016.
The retrenchment targeted at higher education by the state usher the higher education institutions to profile themselves, on one hand, and seek closer cooperation, on the other. Together with Aalto University and Lappeenranta University of Technology, TUT took a close look at the strengths of each of the three universities in 2015, also covering any overlapping fields in research and education. The ongoing Tampere3 project will substantially promote the cooperation and structural reform of the higher education institutions in Tampere. The reforms will cover education, research, support services and administration alike. Tampere3 will give rise to strong expertise that supports the growth and success of Finnish industry and commerce.