New UAS Act to come into force on 1 January 2015
On 13 November, the Finnish Government proposed the ratification of the new Act on Universities of Applied Sciences (formerly known as the Polytechnics Act). The President of Finland ratified the Act on Friday, 14 November. The new Act will replace the previous Act from 2003.
The new Act brings financial and administrative autonomy to universities of applied sciences, thus enforcing their operational preconditions. The Act enables the fluency of decision-making, the implementation of basic tasks within functioning structures and just and adequate incentives for the operation of universities of applied sciences. For the Finnish higher education sector, the reform signifies transferring to a new phase, where universities and UAS act side by side as strong forces which renew the society.
In the future, universities of applied sciences will be legal persons in the form of limited liability companies. The current maintainer system will be renounced. The purpose of the operations of a UAS Ltd shall not be making profit, and the company cannot pay dividend for shareholders or produce other financial benefit.
The Act also regulates the funding of universities of applied sciences, which currently is a part of the central government transfer to local governments. In the future, the basic funding will be gathered as a responsibility of the state. The Ministry of Education and Culture grants the funding to universities of applied sciences, taking the quality, impact and scope of the operations into account.
The automatic membership of UAS students will not be materialised. The Constitutional Law Committee of the Parliament of Finland rejected the model, proposed by the Government, on students’ automatic membership in student unions.
In its rejoinder, the Parliament required that the Government closely monitors the total impact of the UAS funding reform and gives a report on the topic to the Education and Culture Committee in 2018.
In addition, UAS education shall be working life oriented and support regional development. The Government shall also draw a proposal on the collection of a compulsory health care fee from UAS students in order to organise student health care services.
The new UAS Act will come into force on 1 January 2015.
Counsellor of Education Maarit Palonen (MINEDU), tel. 02953 30243
Counsellor for Legislation Eerikki Nurmi (MINEDU), tel. 02953 30234