Board: University of Oulu joins HigherEd Hub Finland Oy
The board of directors of the University of Oulu has decided at its meeting on 19 October 2023 that the university will join HigherEd Hub Finland Oy, a company founded jointly by Finnish universities and universities of applied sciences.
The decision links the university to the development of digital services in higher education nationally. The establishment of the company has been prepared in the national Digivision 2030 project, in which the university has been participating since 2021. The majority of other higher education institutions in Finland have already made a similar decision.
The mission of the company jointly owned by the universities is to be responsible for maintaining and developing the digital services created in the Digivision 2030 project, ensuring data security and data protection, and managing common assets. The goal is to create a national digital service platform that enables learners to have flexible, cross-university learning paths and to enhance cooperation between universities and the data-based development of services and content. For higher education institutions, the new service enables an even wider and more diverse student body, which is not limited by geographical distances. The University of Oulu can profile itself on the platform according to its own strengths and choices.
The board approved the company's founding agreement, articles of association, shareholders' agreement and business plan.
The board discussed financial matters
In its meeting on 19 October 2023, the board of directors of the University of Oulu discussed and instructed the university's operational and financial plan for 2024. Based on preliminary information received from the Ministry of Education and Culture, the total funding of the University of Oulu will increase next year by slightly more than 10 million euros compared to the current year. This year's total funding is EUR 169 million.
Three significant challenges are currently reflected in the university's finances, which are the structural deficit, the cost effects of inflation and the significant use of investment assets.
As in previous years, operations and finances are planned in four parts, which are (1) strategic funding of vice rectors' sectors, (2) funding of services, (3) indicator funding for faculties, and (4) supplementary funding.
According to the plan, EUR 17 million of strategic money will be allocated for use. The majority of this sum ends up being used by the faculties. Strategic funding includes the following sub-items: research 11.1 million euros, training 2.6 million euros, digitization 700,000 euros, cooperation relationships 800,000 euros and other measures 1.8 million euros.
The distribution of the total funding received from the ministry uses the same ratio as in the current year, i.e. 63.9 percent for faculties and 36.1 percent for other units.
The board discussed the university's current operating and financial situation based on the August interim financial statements. The operational accounting result of the university for January-August 2023 is a loss of -5.3 million euros (-6.5 million euros budgeted) and the adjusted operational result is a profit of 1.4 million euros (1.8 million euros budgeted). The accounting result of investment activities is 14.8 million euros. The total result was EUR 12.6 million profitable, when taking into account the funding of the fundraising result to a tied fund.
The predicted operative accounting result for the whole year 2023 is -13.5 million euros (-15.1 million euros budgeted) and the adjusted operative result is -2.3 million euros loss (-3.0 million euros budgeted) taking into account the decisions made on balance sheet and investment assets. The adjusted items are the university's investment assets, the use of fundraising and SYK dividends.
The university's balance sheet position is strong and the equity ratio has remained good. Since the turn of last year, however, the balance sheet has weakened due to a decrease in cash resources (operating deficit). The balance sheet total at the end of August was EUR 328.7 million (EUR 332.6 million on December 31, 2022), of which investments accounted for EUR 262.4 million, or 79.8 percent.