This year, the faculties of the University of Oulu have developed strategies that will shape the development trends for the university. The faculty strategies are part of the process of updating the university strategy, which was published in early 2016, and bringing together the core plans into a single entity.
'We wanted to take strategy work to the faculties, because the different operating environments of the faculties require different solutions. This procedure will also hopefully be effective for ensuring that the strategy is closer to those implementing it', explains Rector Jouko Niinimäki.
'The core idea of why the University of Oulu exists and the good we bring to world has not changed, but as strategy work progresses, we have been able to further specify the guidelines for development. Both our own objectives and our expectations can actually be crystallised into three key points: We carry out high-quality science as part of the international science community, we are an attractive place to study, and we train the experts that society needs', Niinimäki continues.
'We also want to be a pioneer in digital transformation. In terms of research content, we are strong in this area, but in addition there is also a lot of new and inspiring things to be done that relate to digitalisation of the education we offer and provision of quality digital services. It's also important to aim for an excellent student experience.'
Strategy drawn from the views of the research units
In the Faculty of Science, the strategy was written together with the research unit leaders in February. According to Dean Maarit Järvenpää, a reasonable shared agreement was reached on the profile, objectives and measures when specific proposals were being combined to produce broader entities.
'Some felt that the short-term nature of funding inhibited the strategy planning. On the other hand, it was felt that there must be good plans precisely because of this uncertainty,' says Järvenpää.
The strategy paper of the Faculty of Science places a strong emphasis on basic research. It is the foundation for cooperation and applied work with different scientific disciplines. Financing new ideas and risk research is also important. Here, the role of senior researchers is becoming important, as identifying potential requires good knowledge of the research field.
‘As a dean, I try to take various good achievements into account, for example when the researcher has succeeded in popularising their subject through the university's online news or in a wider public environment.’
Maarit Järvenpää feels that the faculty's strategy is very well aligned with the entire university's strategy:
'The university's strategy has been written broadly enough that the activities can be focused and steered in the required direction. In the end, the success of the strategy depends on the work input of researchers and teachers.'
Recruitment takes teaching forward
The strategic directions for teaching had been considered intensively at the Faculty of Science even before the process of updating the University’s strategy began. The faculty has decided to emphasise teaching in some of its advertised job positions, meaning that the new employees receive a special responsibility for education. This may be related to, for example, continuous learning, digitisation, international education networks, forms of study, or student counselling.
Close interaction between research and teaching is also being sought.
The faculty is pleased that the share of primary applicants in the field of natural sciences has increased. Recent efforts in continuing education include participation in the Flexible Mathematics programme.
Diligent strategy work throughout the year
The strategy of the Faculty of Humanities emphasises both the cultural role of the university and profiling according to regional and national needs. The faculty is an important trainer for subject teachers and speech therapists and, for example, is responsible nationwide for the teaching and research of Sami languages and culture.
'The strategy was relatively easy to formulate for us, because over the years we have been writing up from faculty plans different types of papers for use in university performance negotiations', says Dean Paula Rossi.
In the Faculty of Humanities, the strategy has been discussed thoroughly at the regular staff meetings. During the initial phase, all staff members were allowed to submit ideas using the Padlet tool. In addition, there were the discussions within the Faculty Board and the Management Team, which also included student representation.
'Our strategy is nearly ready. I would personally highlight as the most important content the measures for which we already have more detailed plans. Among other things, we want to further develop tutor teacher activities, of which we already have much experience', says Rossi.
Strategy work in its final stage, and will be submitted to the Board of Directors in November
The faculties of the University of Oulu are currently putting the finishing touches to their strategies. The wording of the university-level strategy is also being finalised, and the Board of Directors will discuss the strategy on 20 November.
The need to update the strategy is based on changes in the operating environment, which include the approval of the new university funding model, changes in student selection, increased emphasis on continuous learning, and developments in the digitisation of education. The profiling of universities has also become more precise with the Profile Programme and Flagship Programme of the Academy of Finland.
The university uses the strategy as a basis for negotiating targets and performance with the Ministry of Education and Culture.
Last updated: 25.9.2019