Corruption in Finland - Finnish Chancellor of Justice to Investigate U of Helsinki Hirings
The Finnish Chancellor of Justice is currently investigating for
possible irregularities and discriminatory treatment after the Swedish
School of Social Science released documents relating to their decision
to reject an internationally renowned SPACEPOL expert's candidacy for a
limited track researcher position. According to SPACEPOL CEO Gunnar K.
A. Njalsson, the released documents expose a process of candidate
evaluation riddled with inconsistencies and lack of academic integrity.
False and Embellished Expert Statements
The focus of CEO Njalsson's particular concern is on so-called expert
comments, requested by the Research Centre Board of the Swedish School
of Social Science and submitted by nine University of Helsinki
professors. The comments were to systematically evaluate the candidates
for the researcher position using customary signs of merit, including
the quality of research plans, number and quality of articles
published, international reputation, multidisciplinary projects and so
on. In an official complaint document, Njalsson points out serious
shortcomings such as false or embellished statements and complete
failure by four of the statements to mention a single research plan or
any customary academic criteria used to evaluate candidates. "I'd say
that these deficiencies alone are cause for grave concern", commented
But according to the founder of SPACEPOL who graduated from both the
Swedish School of Social Science and the University of Helsinki in less
than two and one half years, the fact that the statements were central
to the decision making process makes a clear case for complete review
and possible overhaul of the school's recruitment and hiring practises.
He is also calling for disciplinary action and possible prosecution of
those professors who are proven to have willingly or wrecklessly
authored statements which they ought to have known were false. "I'm not
saying that this is necessarily a phenomenon which is limited to the
Swedish School of Social Sciences. But I am saying that wherever it
occurs it is a serious breach against the most basic rules of Academe
and must be dealt with accordingly", Njalsson added.
Chancellor of Justice to Investigate for Irregularities
The Chancellor will likely rule on the case by May 2008. SPACEPOL has
previously filed bilateral trade and expert exchange reports with the
Government of Canada with eye to possible Finnish discrimination of
non-Finnish experts and enterprises. In June, Njalsson formally
renounced his long-standing academic affiliation with the University of
Helsinki, stating that he could see no sign of that university's willingness to adhere to global academic standards is cases such as this.
Finnish Media Refused to Investigate - Have Ties to University being Investigated
The case has been the object of recent media coverage and debate since
it was lodged earlier this year. However, many larger Finnish newspapers such as Helsingin sanomat and the swedish-language dailies Hufvudstadsbladet and Vasabladet have steered clear of covering the incident despite international coverage and the involvement of the Finnish Ministry of Education and Chancellor or Justice in the investigation. The journalists working at these newpapers are all educated at the Swedish School of Social Science.
Similar Cases Have Brought Unwanted Attention
Similar cases have received limited attention in the Finnish media, one such case being that involving the US-Russian Kocharova family, all high-qualified astrophysicists who fled Finland earlier this year for Colorado in response to corrupt Finnish university hiring practises .
The possible impact of these and other incidents on current negotiations relating to international academic mobility is as yet unclear.