Brothers in Arms? How Neoliberalism Connects North and South Higher Education: Finland and Portugal in Perspective
2. Neoliberalism in Higher Education Policies
3. Overview of the Portuguese and Finnish Higher Education Systems
4. Materials and Methods
5. Data Discussion and Comparative Analysis: The Neoliberalism Triangle
5.1. The Market
- As non-profit corporations
- As foundations” (OECD 2009, p. 108).
“The slowness of decision making, and the lack of clarity and transparency of decisions when they are made, seem to be an inevitable consequence of the structuresand are totally out of step with modern and more effective approaches. Collegiality is a valuable concept in a HE institution but we believe that this can be achieved within a framework of a reduced number of layers of decision taking, and with bodies with much smaller membership”.
“The evolution from a Humboldtian model to one of a modern university, with multiple objectives, diversified funding, purposive steering mechanisms and a strong external responsiveness is thus, in our opinion inevitable”.
6. The Versatile Normative Side of the OECD: Convergence in Translating Neoliberal Recommendations
Data Availability Statement
Conflicts of Interest
|Neoliberal Triangle||Finland (2009)||Portugal (2007)|
|Market||Tuition Fees: “In terms of resource management, refinement of a funding formula based more on the attainment of results and outputs, and the consideration of tuition fees for international students” (p. 15). + “Whilst other systems have espoused tuition fees with varying degrees of enthusiasm and reluctance, our widespread discussions with parliamentarians, stakeholders, students and institutions suggested that few Finns believe that a larger private financing initiative through student tuition fees should be introduced into the system” (p. 86). +|
“Higher education institutions should be permitted to charge fees” (p. 87).
Legal Status: “The dual system which the review team encountered is thus held to be clearly differentiated in terms of: (…) the model of governance and administration—state compared with a municipality, joint municipal bodies, or foundations (…)” (p. 13). + “It seems very appropriate to redefine the HEI (both polytechnics and universities) as so-called “Legal persons”, rather than as civil servant units. Within this approach, there are alternatives for institutions:
− As non-profit corporations − As foundations” (108).
|Tuition Fees: “Tuition charges should be increased significantly, in order to help provide additional resources to the institutions and to acknowledge the significant positive financial advantages that a higher education qualification confers on graduates throughout their working life” (p. 12). “Tuition charges for postgraduate students should be deregulated and allowed to increase to rates closer to the full costs of the programmes” (p. 144).|
Legal Status: “Government should introduce comprehensive university and polytechnic legislation in which the autonomy of institutions is clearly defined.” (p. 67). + “These considerations (underlined by many remarks to the review team) call for new legislation governing the higher education institutions. The new legislation should establish institutions as self-governing foundations. Still supported financially by government, they would operate within the private sector. They would have managerial freedom and finances separately accounted for outside the state system. The civil service designation would be removed from all employees of the higher education institutions. The institutions must satisfy government that they are prepared to accept this freedom and that they are willing to confront the difficult leadership and managerial decisions that are an inherent part of such an arrangement” (p. 140).
|Management||“The internal cultures, organisational and management practices which on the one hand reflects a collegial and Humboldtian model (universities), and on the other, a more managerial/corporatist model (polytechnics)” (p. 13). |
“The performance agreements may usefully be viewed as the meeting place for public accountability and institutional autonomy appropriate to the particular sector, particular institution and particular region for two three year periods (…). However, a legitimate question to pose would be: if there is some evidence of convergence of sectoral role and function, should not there be some convergence in the norms and character of resource provision i.e., the same payment for the same tasks—or, parity of esteem and parity of treatment. We would recommend this is kept in mind as matters evolve, as again, this is a phenomenon typical of most binary systems” (p. 82). +
“The development of tertiary education in Finland has progressed purposively over the last decade, both in polytechnic and university sectors. However, the conceptualisation of a university as an essentially Humboldtian construct, with strenuous career requirements; long courses of study; entrenched silo-like disciplines; and a limited managerial and steering capacity has clearly encountered difficulties, largely because of external imperatives. The evolution from a Humboldtian model to one of a modern university, with multiple objectives, diversified funding, purposive steering mechanisms and a strong external responsiveness is thus, in our opinion inevitable, and Finnish universities in different degrees display many of these characteristics” (p. 114).
|Lack of External Stakeholders: “This absence of external stakeholders severely limits the institutions in their interaction with the external world, whose needs they are meant to serve. The effective formal separation of these two worlds, which are so mutually dependent in the knowledge society, is difficult to understand” (p. 65). + |
Lack of leadership: “There is a perception, generally, that the leadership of institutions is weak. This is attributed in large measure to the particular method of selection of the rector, the totally internal focus and the rather political process involved. In addition, the structures within the university do not place a premium on the exercise of leadership. (…)” (p. 65). +
“Yet another issue is the excessive value placed on collegiality within the individual institutions. The many layers of decision-making and the large representative bodies that focus on collegiality ensure that processes are labyrinthine. The ineffectiveness of decision making arises from the multitude of statutory bodies and the excessively large size of these bodies.
The slowness of decision making, and the lack of clarity and transparency of decisions when they are made, seem to be an inevitable consequence of the structures and are totally out of step with modern and more effective approaches. Collegiality is a valuable concept in a higher education institution but we believe that this can be achieved within a framework of a reduced number of layers of decision taking, and with bodies with much
smaller membership” (pp. 65–66) + “We were struck by the strong feelings expressed regarding the micromanagement of the system by the government. Examples included detailed control over new programmes and modifications to existing programmes. (…)” (p. 64).
|Performativity||Performance requirements and assessment: “The use of internal research assessment exercises linked to institutional strategic planning and resource distribution is commended as a matter of course” (p. 47).|
“Quality assurance, of course, is closely connected with monitoring of performance in a strategic sense, which raises the issues of the robustness and adequacy of data-bases (KOTA and AMKOTA), and their use in accountability and even, resource distribution i.e., steering the system” (p. 78).
“Our evaluation of the performance agreement process from an institutional perspective would be thus: (…) An appreciation of the lump-sum budgeting from government, in the realisation that management has to exercise judgement and a firm hand in subsequent internal distribution in a micropolitical competitive faculty environment” (pp. 82–83).
“The need for really effective university training departments linked to strategic planning process and quality review. Universities should assess how their training departments should evolve, and what their new training priorities should be” (p. 91).
Performativity and Governing Bodies: “In the event of the adoption of the “legal person” principle, it would be necessary to establish a governing body or board of trustees for each type of HEI accountable to government. (…) The purpose of such a body would be to operate at a strategic level, interacting with stakeholders, improving the institutional infrastructure, but not interfering in institutional management or the academic domain” (pp. 108–109).
|Performance: “The section on economic performance points out that the level of human capital formation in Portugal is no longer able to sustain productivity growth levels that are needed to close the income gaps of the country compared to its competitors. The poor economic performance of recent years can be linked to the country’s weak performance in human capital formation” (p. 19). + “The governing authority should be reluctant to establish additional statutory bodies and the creation of such bodies should be subject to the most rigorous examination and justification. Decision making should aim to be efficient, effective and transparent.” (p. 69).|
Accountability and Governing Bodies: “A suggestion has been made to us that there should be a regional council formed in each region comprising all of the HEIs and other educational and training providers together with a broad representation of stakeholders e.g., from business, trade unions, voluntary groups, etc. Such bodies would not have a statutory or a decision-making base but would be a vehicle for local joint initiatives, for example. They could also have a role in recommending to CCES the realignment or the formation of new relationships among HEIs in the region. Annual reports on activities would be provided to CCES as an input to its national overview and its annual contract discussions with individual institutions. We believe that there is much merit in this idea and we suggest that government provide the necessary start-up funding to support the administration of such bodies” (p. 69).
Accountability and Performance: “Revise budgeting for capital outlay: The review team recommends moving away from the project-funding mode for capital outlay, toward a multi-year plan for capital improvements, linked to national priorities. The plan should include attention to revenue sources for capital outlay, and anticipate the eventual loss of European Structural Funds. The criteria for capital priorities need not be identical to programme priorities, and can include factors such as regional economic growth, jobs, the preservation of buildings and sites of historic and cultural significance, and contributions to the civil society through the arts or service to communities” (p. 128).
|Neoliberal Triangle||Yliopistolaki (University Law) 558/2009, Finland||Law 62/2007 (RJIES), Portugal|
|Market||The New Universities Act established universities as independent legal personalities, being either public universities or foundation universities.|
“Section 5. Legal capacity of public universities: 1. The public universities are independent legal persons.”
Following the OECD recommendations, the following institutions become foundations: “Aalto University Foundation operating as Aalto University, and TTY Foundation operating as Tampere University of Technology”.
New relation with the government: “Section 5. Legal capacity of public universities:
1. The public universities may undertake commitments, obtain rights in their own name and possess movable and immovable property. The universities may engage in business activities, provided such activities support the discharge of the mission laid down in Section 2.
2. The public universities are liable for their commitments with their own funds and are entitled to pursue and defend litigation in court.”
Regarding tuition fees for international students and the typical free nature of Finnish HE:
“Section 8. Tuition free of charge and charges related to other activities (Amendment 414/2016)
1. Studies leading to a university degree and entrance examinations relating to student admissions are free of charge for the student unless otherwise provided in this Act. (...)
“Section 9. Commissioned education (Amendment 1600/2015)
2. Tuition provided in the form of commissioned education must relate to undergraduate or postgraduate education in which the university has the right to confer degrees. (…) +
“Section 10. Fee-charging degree programmes: 1. Universities must charge a minimum tuition fee of EUR 1500 per academic year for students admitted to a Bachelor’s or Master’s degree programme taught in a language other than Finnish or Swedish. (…)”
Regarding the diversification of the funding basis: “Section 49. Criteria for the allocation of government funding: 1. The Ministry of Education and Culture grants imputed core funding to the universities, taking into account the extent, quality and effectiveness of the operations and other education and science policy objectives. The Ministry of Education and Culture may also grant performance-based funding to universities on the basis of good performance. (…)”
|The new legal framework for HEIs (RJIES) created the possibility for HEIs to become foundations, a kind of ideal model in line with the OECD’s proposal.|
“Article 9—Status and legal framework: 1. Public higher education institutions are collected persons governed by public law which may, however, assume the status of public foundations governed by private law under the terms stipulated in Section III Chapter VI (…)”.
“Article 129—The creation of a foundation. (...) “The transformation of an institution into a foundation governed by private law should be justified on the basis of the advantages of adopting this managerial model and legal framework for the pursuit of its objectives”.
Following the OECD recommendations and the legislation, three universities immediately assumed the foundational status: the University of Aveiro, Porto and ISCTE.
“Article 134—Legal framework: 1—Foundations are governed by private law, specifically with regard to their financial assets and staff management, apart from the exceptions established in the previous points”.
Redefinition of the institutions’ governance bodies: “Article 77—Governing bodies of universities and university institutes:
1—Universities and university institutes are governed by the following bodies: (a) The General Council; (b) The Rector; (c) The Management Board.
2—With the aim of ensuring cohesion within the university and the involvement of all organisational units in its management, the statutes may provide for the creation of an academic Senate consisting of representatives of the organisational units, which acts as an obligatory advisory body to the Rector on matters defined in the institution’s own statutes. (…)”
Regarding Tuition Fees: “Article 139—Tuition fees and other chargesTuition fees and other charges payable by students for attending educational establishments are established by the founding body on the recommendation of the managerial bodies of the establishment and must be announced and suitably publicized in all respects before students enrol”.
Regarding the diversification of the funding basis: “Article 115—Income
1—The income of public HEI consists of the following: (a) Budget allocations received from the State; (b) Revenue from tuition fees and other charges for attending study cycles and other training courses; (c) Revenue from research and development activities; (d) Revenue from intellectual property; (e) Revenue from the institution’s own assets or assets from which they benefit; (f) Revenue from services rendered, the issuing of expert opinions, the sale of publications and other products from their activities; (g) Subsidies, grants, partnerships, donations, inheritances and bequests; (h) The proceeds from the sale or leasing of tangible assets, or other assets, authorised by law; (i) Interest on deposit accounts and remuneration from other financial applications; (j) The revenue and expenditure account balance from previous years; (l) The proceeds from charges, salaries, fines, penalties and any other income to which they are legally entitled: (m) The proceeds of agreed loans; (n) Revenue from pluriannual loans agreed with the State (…)”.
|Management||Removal of the civil service designation from all employees of universities: “Section 32. Staff employment relations: 1. The employment relationship of the university staff is based on a contract of employment. |
2. The employees and the terms of the employment relationships are governed by relevant statutes and terms agreed in a collective agreement and in the contract of employment. The universities will be able to pursue independent human resources policies, improve their attractiveness as an employer and in this way strengthen their competitive advantage in order to recruit the best personnel”.
|Increased autonomy in terms of human resource management: “Article 134—Legal framework—(…) the institution may create career structures for its own teaching, research and other staff which, in general, parallel the teaching and research staff categories and qualifications of the various public higher education establishments”.|
Top-down management: Inclusion of external members in the institution governance bodies (e.g., General Council (§81º) governing bodies) and strengthened leadership.
|Performativity||Evaluation and assessment of HEIs: “Article 29—Registers and transparency: The supervising ministry organises and keeps an up-to-date official register accessible to the public of the following data on HEI and their activities: (a) HEI and their relevant characteristics; (b) Consortiums of HEI; (c) Current study cycles leading to the award of degrees and, where appropriate, the regulated professions for which the degree holders qualify; (d) Teaching staff and researchers; |
(e) The results of the accreditation and assessment of HEIs and their study cycles; (f) Statistical information, specifically on the number of places, applicants, students enrolled, degrees and diplomas awarded, teaching staff, researchers, other staff, student social services and public funding; (g) Employability of holders of degrees; (h) The general base of higher education graduates; (i) Other relevant data, as defined in an order issued by the supervising minister”.
“Section 51. Supervision and reporting (Amendment 954/2011): When requested by the Ministry of Education and Culture, each university must provide the Ministry with the data necessary for the evaluation, development, statistics and other supervision and steering of education and research in the manner determined by the Ministry. (Amendment 954/2011)”
|Assessment and accreditation of HEIs: “Article 147—Assessment and accreditation of HEIs: 1—Under the terms of their statutes, higher education institutions must establish mechanisms for regular self-evaluation of their performance.” +|
“Article 148—Supervision: HEIs are subject to the supervisory powers of the State and must collaborate faithfully and promptly with the appropriate authorities”.
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Diogo, S.M.; Carvalho, T. Brothers in Arms? How Neoliberalism Connects North and South Higher Education: Finland and Portugal in Perspective. Soc. Sci. 2022, 11, 213. https://doi.org/10.3390/socsci11050213
Diogo SM, Carvalho T. Brothers in Arms? How Neoliberalism Connects North and South Higher Education: Finland and Portugal in Perspective. Social Sciences. 2022; 11(5):213. https://doi.org/10.3390/socsci11050213Chicago/Turabian Style
Diogo, Sara Margarida, and Teresa Carvalho. 2022. "Brothers in Arms? How Neoliberalism Connects North and South Higher Education: Finland and Portugal in Perspective" Social Sciences 11, no. 5: 213. https://doi.org/10.3390/socsci11050213