University Post
University of Copenhagen
Independent of management


Finns say No to Danish-style university law

A planned Finnish university management reform based on the Danish model, has been dropped

Proposed law changes were to introduce a new, Danish-inspired university management structure in Finland, with a majority of external board representatives and a non-elected rector.

Now, the planned legislation change has been deemed illegal, as it would threaten the autonomy of the Finnish universities. This is according to the Danish daily Politiken.


With the introduction of the 2003 Act on universities, Danish higher education institutions changed their management structure.

The change to the Danish law means that today the Rector is hired instead of elected. Also, six members of the 11 University Board members are external representatives.

The proposal to introduce a similar law in Finland caused a furore in the country’s universities and has now been dropped.

Democratically elected board

The proposal, which comprised one part of a larger university reform, was deemed to be illegal, as an external majority on a university board would threaten the autonomy of the university.

Private sector and other external representatives will still have a say at the Finnish universities, but will only make up 40 pct of the Board.

They will also be nominated by democratically elected students and members of staff.

Financial rights

The Finnish university reform will grant the universities greater freedom, as they will become self-governing institutions, with financial rights to two thirds of their real estate, the paper writes.

The Finnish politicians’ apparent sympathy for the university criticism of the proposed change to the law is clear, says Anita Lehikoinen, director of the Division for Higher Education and Science in the Ministry of Education, Finland.

Law would not work without backing

»We wished to respect the strong tradition for collegial decision-making at the universities. If the universities had not backed the reform, then nothing good would have come of it as the university lobby in Finland is very strong,« says Anita Lehikoinen in an interview with the Danish newspaper Infomation.

Read more about the Finnish university system here.