Science and research

Atomimalli. KUVA: Gorilla

Science policy is linked to both higher education policy and innovation policy. Science policy supports the operating possibilities of organisations that finance and carry out research.

Research allows competence to be linked to the different areas of society from business and enterprise to the public service system and public decision making.


The mission of universities includes independent academic research as well as academic and artistic education, to provide research-based higher education, including researcher training. Doctoral degrees can only be completed at universities.

The mission of universities of applied sciences includes providing higher education for professional expert jobs based on the requirements of working life and its development and on the premises of academic research and academic and artistic education, and to carry out applied research, development and innovation activities and artistic activities that serve education in universities of applied sciences, promote industry, business and regional development and regenerate the industrial structure of the region.

Research and researcher training at universities

Approximately one third of the central government funding provided for university activities is used for carrying out research based on the universities’ internal decisions. The majority of research funding based on competitive bidding derives from the Academy of Finland, The Finnish Agency for Innovation Tekes and the Commission of the European Union.

The number of doctoral degrees completed annually tripled from the early 1990s to the early 2010s. Although measures were taken to improve doctoral degree programmes, the time it takes to complete a doctoral degree has remained unchanged (7-8 years).

Artistic and scientific postgraduate studies were strengthened by establishing a doctoral school system in 1995, in which some of the doctoral students participated. The universities have been reforming the doctoral school structures since 2012 with the objective of improving the quality of education and clarifying student admissions criteria.

In the new system, all postgraduate students belong to the university's doctoral school and one of its doctoral degree programmes. Most universities have also revised the requirements for doctoral degrees so that it can be completed in a shorter time (four years) without compromising the quality of doctoral dissertations. These changes have also made it possible for doctorates to enter their independent research careers and working life earlier. It has also enhanced international cooperation in doctoral studies and promoted the international comparability of doctoral programmes.

Research, development and innovation at universities of applied sciences

Research conducted at universities of applied sciences is predominantly applied research and development based on the requirements of working life. It is usually linked to the structure and development of business and industry in the area where the institutions are located.

The universities of applied sciences themselves finance research, development and innovation (RDI) activities and the Academy of Finland and the Finnish Agency for Innovation (Tekes) also grant minor sums to RDI activities carried out at universities of applied sciences. The main financing mechanisms for universities of applied sciences of the European Commission are the Structural Funds programmes.

Open science

Open science is nowadays an internationally significant way to promote science and to increase the impact of science in society. It makes research findings readily available to other researchers, and this, in turn, saves resources, promotes high standards in science and generates new research questions.

Open science and research brings inspiration to citizens, companies and decision-makers, and it enables new insights and creates valuable understanding. Open science provides more opportunities for taking part in scientific research, provided publications, data, methods, competence and support services produced and required by research are readily available.

Research careers

By following up on the careers of researchers it is possible to collect information on post-doctoral job placements at higher education institutions and research institutes as well as in other sectors of society. It is also important from the point of view of planning ahead and developing doctoral studies. The statistical services of the Finnish National Agency for Education and Statistics Finland collect key information on researcher careers.

A report on researcher careers (2016) produced by a working group appointed by the Ministry of Education and Culture indicates that the future jobs of doctoral students will comprise more tasks other than those related to research, development and innovation. This means that doctoral students should acquire versatile knowledge and competence already during their doctoral studies. Cooperation and division of work between different actors in our society is important in researcher career development. This way  RDI investments can generate more visible outcomes  and employment among those with degrees in higher education can be kept high.

Research institute cooperation

In September 2013, the Government endorsed a resolution to overhaul State research institutes and research financing, which will be implemented between 2014 and 2017.

The Ministry of Education and Culture is in charge of a multi-annual process for deepening cooperation between higher education institutions and research institutes. The objective of the roadmap drawn up on closer cooperation between higher education institutions and research institutes is to create strong, field-specific and/or regional competence-based clusters of higher education institutions and research institutes. This will help make the research and innovation system more effective and activities more efficient. The roadmap is based on the premise of eliminating obstacles to cooperation that have been been identified and to foster productive cooperation.

The roadmap was compiled by the Universities Finland (UNIFI), the Rectors' Conference of Finnish Universities of Applied Science (Arene), the Council for Research Institute Directors (TUNE) and eight ministries (Ministry of Transport and Communications, Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, Ministry of Education and Culture, Ministry of Social Affairs and Health, Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment, Ministry of Finance, Ministry of the Environment and the Prime Minister's Office).


Contact information

Erja Heikkinen, Tiedeasiainneuvos, ryhmän päällikkö 
OKM, Korkeakoulu- ja tiedepolitiikan osasto (KTPO), Tiedepolitiikan ryhmä (TIR) 0295330101