UniPID presented an invited statement on the "Evaluation of Finland's Support to the Higher Education Institutions - North-South-South and HEI ICI Programmes” in a seminar organized by the Ministry for Foreign Affairs in Helsinki, on June 16.
UniPID attended a seminar on the "Evaluation of Finland's Support to the Higher Education Institutions - North-South-South and HEI ICI Programmes” at Tieteiden talo in Helsinki, on the 16thof June. The aim of the seminar, arranged by the Ministry for Foreign Affairs (MFA) of Finland, was to publish the evaluation of the two programmes and to look at their results and how they have contributed to the development objectives of partner countries and the Finnish Development Policy Programme. Seminar also offered a forum for discussions between the evaluation team, the MFA and the research and higher education community.
UniPID was invited by the MFA to comment the evaluation report in the event. UniPID board’s vice chair, professor Jeremy Gould from the University of Jyväskylä presented the UniPID statement. Several other UniPID board members and the UniPID coordinator also participated in the event.
Gould presented several key points from the official UniPID statement that was the outcome of the UniPID board meeting where the evaluation of the two programmes was discussed in the end of May. Gould noted that both HEI ICI and NSS programmes have had a significant role in the internationalization of Finnish higher education institutions and can be seen as instruments of higher education policy both in the South and within Finland. However, Gould also commented that these programmes’ means and ends should be consistent with the overall incentive structure of Finnish HEI policy, and thus the MFA and the Ministry of Education and Culture should work together to create mutually supportive strategies.
On behalf of UniPID, Gould also criticized the suggestion of the evaluation team to introduce narrow technical criteria for selecting partners, based mainly on geographical location. Gould evaluated that long-term partnerships involving joint research, supervision and mentoring would be most fruitful for all the partners involved. Instead of limiting the partnerships only with young, rural universities, Gould recommended deepening partnerships with those universities with which collaboration has already proved productive.
Finally, Gould presented UniPID’s grave concern about the suggestion that part of the already meagre funding for development research through the Academy of Finland would be allocated to the HEI ICI programmes’ research capacity building activities. Gould emphasized the importance of maintaining a funding window for development research, which is guided by basic criteria of academic innovativeness and excellence. In addition, Gould recommended that Finland would increase the applied research investments at the funding levels prevailing in Nordic countries, and in other EU partner states.