Aalto University continued to improve its academic results. In teaching, the launch of new Master’s Degree programmes in autumn 2015 was a priority. Aalto also sharpened its research profile through significant recruitments of professors in key areas, for which Aalto University received considerable amounts of funding from the Academy of Finland. An international panel that evaluated the profiling activities of universities found that Aalto University's strategy was excellent; the panel considered Aalto “an inspiring role model that deserves all possible support” and that bolsters national innovation activities.
Aalto University is the leading Finnish university in the fields of technology, business and art. It is also internationally competitive in these fields. For example in ERC funding granted for leading-edge research, Aalto University ranked first in Finland in 2015. Among European universities, Aalto improved its ranking, moving from 59th to 28th position. In the 2015 Leiden Ranking, Aalto University was found to be the world’s 14th strongest university in the field of business cooperation.
Aalto University’s updated degree programmes turn out highly employable and sought-after international experts and innovators for industry, business and society. The university clearly exceeded its degree targets in Bachelor’s and Master’s Degrees as well as doctorates. In Finland, Aalto University produced 41% of academic degrees in the technical and scientific field, over 80% of degrees in the arts and design field, and approximately one-fifth of business and economics degrees.
What makes Aalto University an international pioneer is its multidisciplinary approach. Rather than referring to the parallel branches of science, the word ‘multidisciplinary’ at Aalto means intensive cooperation with the aim of producing innovations. Aalto University’s new multidisciplinary operating practices break internal and external boundaries and are globally unique academic innovations. For example, the Design Factory concept developed at Aalto has, over a short period of time, inspired a global network that has spread to five continents.
Gauged by the number of citations, the quality of Aalto’s scientific publications shows further improvement. Aalto University's publications received on average over 50% more citations compared to citation average in the same fields worldwide.
World-class innovation and business ecosystem
Research, development and teaching carried out in open development environments and together with partners; entrepreneurship education offered to all students; and other business cooperation, are characteristic of Aalto University. An ecosystem of international significance has emerged in connection with the main campus of Aalto University where high standard art, research and teaching produce new innovations, new companies and new business in close cooperation with students, research institutes, companies and the international scientific community.
A 2014 report published by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) classifies the innovation and business ecosystem of Aalto University as one of the five best emerging university-driven innovation ecosystems in the world. The European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT) set up the co-location centres of two Knowledge and Innovation Community (KIC) projects in Otaniemi, where Aalto’s main campus is located. They provide Finnish actors with a direct link to the cutting edge of the international scientific community and the most dynamic small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) in Europe. The new type of student- and alumni-driven entrepreneurial culture at Aalto has created globally significant phenomena, including Slush and the Startup Sauna.
Plans to balance university finances against Government cutbacks
When founded, Aalto University was given a special national mission to support Finnish competitiveness and wellbeing through high-quality research and teaching. In 2015, EUR 12 million in further cuts were made in the funding of Aalto’s national mission, to which the University has adapted by means of proactive savings in service costs.
Savings in Government finances will result in cumulative cuts in the University's funding that will amount to a total of EUR 136 million in 2016–2018. In the autumn of 2015, Aalto University prepared a plan for balancing its finances that aims to secure the achievement of the University's strategic goals and long-term prerequisites for the core activities, regardless of significant cuts to its funding.
In accordance with the plan for balancing its finances, the University has set ambitious goals for increasing additional funding, particularly competitive research funding. Aalto University will also use returns from its endowment responsibly and actively carry out fundraising. Additionally, the University aims to achieve significant savings in facility and procurement costs.
Regardless of the other measures, Aalto University is also forced to reduce its personnel costs by around 320 person-years. Employer-employee negotiations were initiated in November 2015.
Financial statements show deficit
The deficit in Aalto University's pro forma profit and loss statement in 2015 was EUR 12 million (EUR 11 million in 2014). The operative profits were EUR 372 million in 2015 (EUR 389 million), of which central government budget funding accounted for EUR 254 (266) million. The total operative expenses were EUR 385 (400) million, of which personnel expenses accounted for 64% and facilities expenses for 17%.
The surplus recorded in investment activities was EUR 30 (39) million, and the surplus from fundraising was EUR 1 (5) million. Thus, Aalto University's net surplus for the financial year was EUR 18 (33) million. The balance sheet total increased from EUR 1.101 million to EUR 1.226 million.
The surplus of the Aalto University Group, consisting of Aalto University and its subsidiaries, for the financial year was EUR 29 (36) million. The Group's balance sheet totalled EUR 1.485 (1.405) million at the end of the financial year.
The Aalto University Board approved the Annual Board Report and Financial Statements for 2015 at its meeting on 21 March 2016.
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Aalto University Annual Board Report and Financial Statements 2015 (pdf)