The interview of president and CEO Jouni Koski.
Jouni Koski started working as the President and CEO of Laurea University of Applied Sciences in February 2014. The past 30 months have been eventful: receiving the new permanent operating license, international audit of the quality system, and the beginning of the strategic cooperation with the Universities of Applied Sciences of the metropolitan area.
The nomination of Jouni Koski as the President and CEO of Laurea University of Applied Sciences took place at a time when Laurea had been granted a new, permanent operating license at the end of 2013. The permanent operating license came with two development obligations: The first was to ensure the influence of Laurea's operation in the Uusimaa region, and safeguarding the preconditions for degree-awarding education in Lohja and Porvoo. The second development obligation was related to closer cooperation in the Helsinki area with Haaga-Helia University of Applied Sciences and Metropolia University of Applied Sciences.
- Looking back on the recent years at Laurea, it has been a very intensive and significant time developmentally speaking, states President and CEO Koski.
- For all the work the Laurea community has done, it is very rewarding that the Ministry of Education and Culture has found that Laurea’s measures have been in alignment with the development obligations and that no further measures are required. It shows that the development work of our organisation and operating methods has been in the right direction.
Laurea serves the entire Uusimaa region
In autumn 2014, Laurea implemented a new brand promise: “Together we are stronger – Laurea in Uusimaa”. It describes Laurea's role as the shared University of Applied Sciences for the Uusimaa region and therefore met Laurea’s development obligation.
- I am impressed with how the members of the Laurea community created a brand promise that so well substantiates our strategic intent and operating methods as a higher education institution serving the region, emphasises Jouni Koski.
The promise “Together we are stronger – Laurea in Uusimaa” is a part of Laurea's development work on organisational structure and operating methods, where the goal has constantly been to more fully utilize the resources of the higher education institution.
- A central premise has been for the institution with its expertise to serve the entire Uusimaa region, summarises President and CEO Koski.
For the development of Laurea’s operation, Koski felt that the feedback from the international quality system audit was encouraging:
- The feedback from the audit group was reassuring for Laurea, says Koski.
- For its part, the feedback supports the notion that we have succeeded in making the right choices by renewing the operating methods of our institution, so the principle of continuous improvement has been implemented very well across the whole organisation.
Alliance as an answer to the shared challenges of Universities of Applied Sciences
The answer to the second development obligation, i.e. the closer cooperation between the Universities of Applied Sciences in the Helsinki region, is a strategic alliance between Laurea University of Applied Sciences, Haaga-Helia University of Applied Sciences and Metropolia University of Applied Sciences. The cooperation agreement of the alliance was signed on 30 September and it will enter into force in the beginning of 2017.
- It is a very significant strategic choice to start building this alliance for the heart of the metropolitan area. The cooperation areas and focal points complement the cooperation of our other alliance – FUAS, describes President and CEO Koski.
The operating environment of higher education institutions is undergoing heavy changes in Finland, and the tightening funding model based on productivity requires even more significant actions from Universities of Applied Sciences than before. Indeed, the goal of the strategic alliance of the three Universities of Applied Sciences is to improve the effectiveness and productivity of these institutions.
- The alliance is not an end in itself, and it was not created with a fusion in mind. Above all, the alliance is a way to boost the results and future performance of the Universities of Applied Sciences, says Jouni Koski.
- All three face similar challenges, and through shared goals, everyone stands to gain. This is why we have been able to start building the cooperation on a very positive basis.
Free student mobility by 2020
In terms of funding the higher education institutions, the most central goal of the cooperation is the effort to fortify state funding by increasing the amount of supplementary funding – especially the RDI funding subject to international competition – in the metropolitan area.
Another important goal is related to education export, and the goal of the strategic alliance is to be Finland's largest education exporter in the University of Applied Sciences sector by 2020. From the students’ perspective, the most significant cooperative area of the alliance is the selection of increasingly versatile study opportunities. For this part, the University of Applied Sciences cooperation began already during the past summer in the form of the Professional Summer School study entity by Haaga-Helia, Laurea and Metropolia.
- From the student's perspective, another important goal is to create free student mobility between the three higher education institutions by 2020. It is definitely a significant goal, says President and CEO Koski cheerfully.
The strengths of the higher education institution alliance complement each other. All three institutions involved in the strategic alliance have their strengths, and it is the belief of President and CEO Koski that the cooperation will provide many opportunities for the parties to learn about the others’ areas of expertise and operating models.
President and CEO of Laurea Jouni Koski highlights Haaga-Helia’s strength to be education export, as the institution's volume, experience and expertise in education export are on a completely different level than the other Universities of Applied Sciences. At the same time, Haaga-Helia is the only higher education institution in the Helsinki area to provide professional teacher education.
- On the other hand, Metropolia's strengths lie in the impressive development of student services. Similarly, they have extremely versatile education and long traditions in technology, adds Koski.
- Here we have a significant resource for developing the RDI activities of the three Universities of Applied Sciences; combining Metropolia's technological expertise with Laurea's service design and Haaga-Helia’s expertise in teacher education and education export.