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In a changing world, continuous renewal and global networking are essential for Finnish higher education institutions. Increasing international cooperation between higher education institutions in different countries is based on their common interests and goals, which nowadays are often related to sustainable development issues. At its best, a future- and working-life-oriented higher education institution committed to international cooperation generates significant added value for its management, staff, students and external ecosystem. This article examines, from the perspective of Laurea University of Applied Sciences, the benefits that these stakeholders derive from its international activities and participation.

The Vision 2035 for fostering the internationalisation of higher education and research guides the international strategies of Finnish higher education institutions over the next decade (MoEC 2022a). In the vision, freedom of science, research and teaching, Finland’s competitiveness, diverse society, sustainable development and national cooperation are seen as prerequisites for promoting international activities. In addition, the European Higher Education Area (EHEA), the Research Area (ERA) and the University Strategy and the related European University Initiative have a key impact on the internationalisation of Finnish higher education institutions (European Commission 2022, MoEC 2022b).

Laurea is currently renewing its strategy, which will come into force in early 2025. It is not yet known exactly how international cooperation in higher education and sustainable development will be reflected in this strategy. In Laurea’s current strategy, the aim is to expand and strengthen mutual international cooperation, which strengthens the quality and impact of higher education, research and innovation activities, as well as the international expertise of different actors (Laurea 2019). Active participation in Nordic, European and transnational networks has been seen as an opportunity for Laurea to learn new things and find solutions to cross-border challenges with international partners.

Laurea’s management operates in a global business environment

Laurea’s top management is responsible for the strategic and international management of the university. In recent years, Laurea has moved from bilateral partnerships to international networks and alliances, which help to overcome national, political and financial barriers, increase opportunities for cooperation and encourage new ways of allocating resources and expertise (Angouri 2023). A good example of this is the PIONEER Alliance of ten European higher education institutions, of which Laurea is a member (Launikari 2023, Laurea 2023). At the beginning of 2024, the rectors of the PIONEER universities signed a joint mission statement at the strategic level in which they committed themselves to intensify their mutual cooperation in education, research and innovation and to increase the mobility of students and experts. The aim of the PIONEER university cooperation is to promote the sustainable development of the cities of the future.

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Full text in Finnish available here

Author: Mika Launikari