Petition against the merging of Ionospheric Physics, Space Climate and Astronomy Research Units at the University of Oulu

Petition to Oulu University Rector and Board

The dean of the Faculty of Science has decided to suggest to the rector the merging of Space Climate, Ionospheric Physics, and Astronomy research units. This is against the explicit recommendation of the working group nominated by the dean. The dean will inform about the merging on Tuesday 19.6.2018; there has been no proper hearing of the affected personnel, excluding the confidential discussions within the working group.

The working group was tasked with evaluating the consequences of a possible merger in research and education, with special attention paid to economical factors. However, based on the extensive facts gathered, the working group unanimously concluded that the current teaching of the units is at its necessary level and well organized, and strongly endorsed the idea that the three units should be maintained administratively separate.

The summary of the report concludes (http://www.oulu.fi/astronomy/Report_final.pdf): “Possible merging of the units would neither release new resources, nor enhance the currently highly successful operation of the units. We find no recognizable added value that would arise from merging. Rather, there is a threat of losing agility from merging and adding an extra layer of internal administration."

Space physics and astronomy are completely separate science fields, have different research topics and research methods. In spite of their small sizes the units have been able to produce internationally highly evaluated science: altogether they produce 20-40% of all the highest ranking (www.natureindex.com) scientific articles published in the university of Oulu. This reflects in the success in attracting external funding (Academy Center of Excellence, Horizon2020 ITN). The units have also organized their teaching in a very cost-effective way, with externally funded researchers participating to teaching. The current units are in fact model examples of how the University of Oulu can reach to the level of an internationally recognized science university, attracting students and young researchers from all around the world.

Why would the university of Oulu endanger the future of these highly successful research units by forcing them to merge? In the worst scenario this merging could lead to a shutdown of both teaching and research in internationally rapidly expanding science fields.

We, signers of this document, oppose the unnecessary merging of the units and hope that the leadership of the University of Oulu will reject the suggestion made by the dean.


Teemu Virtanen, Sigma-kilta ry    Contact the author of the petition

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