Stakeholder event focused on the current status of higher education
The launching of the autumn semester was marked by Laurea's traditional stakeholder event, which examined topical themes in higher education. The event was opened by Mr Koski, President and CEO of Laurea, who discussed the influence of vocational higher education. He underlined the high significance of universities of applied sciences in Finland, which was demonstrated by the popularity of educational programmes at Laurea and similar institutions in the joint application round of this spring. Mr Koski also provided an introduction to Laurea's new strategy for 2015–2020 that was published in the summer.
- Laurea's strategy 2020 begins and ends with the human being, said Mr Koski, presenting the seven key themes of the strategy to the audience.
The second speaker at the event was Mr Sture Fjäder, President of Akava, a trade union confederation for highly educated people. He stressed that Akava sees universities of applied sciences as having a strong role.
- Universities of applied sciences are the cornerstone of Finland's competitiveness, and their popularity shows that they have taken their place in the Finnish education chain, he noted.
President Fjäder also warned that Finland cannot afford cutbacks in education. The entire educational chain from early childhood education and care to higher education needs to be of a high quality.
- In the early 1990s, we took a risk and invested in education and competence. That risk proved worth taking, said Fjäder.
The next speaker to discuss topical themes associated with the current status of Finnish higher education was Ms Maarit Palonen, Counsellor of Education from the Ministry of Education and Culture. While Finland continues to do well in international comparisons of education, Ms Palonen expressed her concern over what the situation will be like in ten years' time. As weaknesses of Finnish higher education Ms Palonen brought up the challenges of internationalisation and the scattered and fragmented network of higher education institutions.
Counsellor of Education Palonen gave an introduction to the education policy outlines of the recent Government Programme. Competence and education are seen as one of the strategic priorities of the government term.
- The goal is that Finland will be a model country of modern learning that exploits new learning environments and the possibilities of digitalisation, she said.
The final speaker of the event was Mika Kojonkoski, Director of the Finnish Olympic Committee's High Performance Unit, who has enjoyed a successful international career as an athlete and a coach. Under the theme "Together we are stronger", Mr Kojonkoski explored ways of building up communal energy.
In his contribution, Mr Kojonkoski reflected on his personal experiences of leadership and harnessing the resources of the community gained while working as a coach in several different countries and for top teams. Three important themes stood out in his remarks: our attitude to every-day life, a collaborative mood, and an atmosphere that supports an individual human being.