First year as a limited company
Tarja Filatov, member of Parliament and Board Chairperson of Häme University of Applied Sciences Ltd
Häme University of Applied Sciences has completed its first year as a limited company. The transformation from a municipal federation into a company was technically challenging. While the legal format changed, the core content did not.
The impacts of savings in education also hit HAMK. Efforts to improve the efficiency of operations have continued for some time, and any superfluous activities have been axed. The most recent savings unfortunately also affected the badly needed human resources. However, we have striven to find solutions that minimise disruptions and avoid compromising on education quality.
The Minister of Education has challenged higher education institutions to identify the areas in which they wish to be the best. HAMK’s strategy focuses on inspiring education and research that caters for workplace needs.
The students are not all the same, and education must thus also serve different needs. The foundation of inspiring education is laid by the students’ personal career paths where they can either follow a working week model based on continuous guidance, or an accelerated model where the student works more independently. The third model makes it possible to utilise learning at the workplace.
HAMK has strategic international partners in Brazil (Feevale University) and Denmark (VIA University College). Cooperation with these partners has been developed and intensified.
As from 2016, higher education institutions will have the possibility of imposing tuition fees on non-EU/EEA students. The Government’s aim is to promote higher education institutions’ potential for export of education and to broaden their funding basis. Tuition fees highlight the quality of education as a competitive factor. It is worth remembering that quality is not only for the purpose of internationalisation; primarily, it is for the Finnish students.
The legislation sets the minimum limit of the tuition fee at EUR 1,500. Depending on the field, the costs of organising education are likely to exceed this amount. Selling our education for a cut-rate price for the sheer pleasure of making a deal would be pointless.
In public debate, it has been asked if tuition fees for foreign students bring more internationality or funding for higher education institutions, or if they possibly are a Trojan horse that will result in fee-paying education also for Finnish students. Time will tell which course the development will take. Based on what we know today, I do not expect any major changes at HAMK.
HAMK has been active in the sphere of export of education while also keeping an eye on the risks. The same policy should be applied to tuition fees. They are unlikely to become a major earner, even if this is what the Ministry of Education might wish.
While Finnish education has become famous thanks to the Pisa studies, this does not mean that our higher education institutions would be well known and sought after abroad. If we wish to attract fee-paying international students to Finland, we must build strong brands and consider what we can do better than others. In these efforts, we must be able to combine the strengths of the sub-regions and the university of applied sciences. The fee policy should be linked to the joint internationalisation strategies of HAMK and the regions.
In order for the Kanta-Häme region to do well in the future, the level of education must be improved in the entire region, progress must be made with internationalisation, companies must be persuaded to grow, and inputs in research and product development must increase.
Internationalisation and regional development may go hand in hand, and in this context, HAMK’s cooperation with businesses and municipalities plays an important part. This is not only about Kanta-Häme and Valkeakoski as a whole but also about cooperation at the subregional level. Cooperation may even support regional exports. These benefits will not be obtained automatically, and goal-oriented work is required to achieve them. HAMK is the only higher education institution in the region. It additionally has campuses in the areas of several municipalities, which emphasises the importance of well-functioning partnerships in the region of Häme.
“Austerity creates gloom, not innovations. The country may only be propelled out of the recession by people who have equitable possibilities for doing so and who are supported by an inspiring education system of a high quality.” These words were written to me by a student.
HAMK is the sum total of its people: students, teachers and other staff, companies and other partners - and good cooperation between them all.
Rector’s review of 2015
Pertti Puusaari, Rector
The distinctive feature of year 2015 was fierce debate on the higher education policy as part of broader societal discussion on change. Funding cuts continued as expected, and no change for the better is on the horizon. Despite of all this, HAMK has made systematic progress in implementing its HAMK 2020 strategy. Changing our practices, for example making use of digitalisation, as well as stressing a goal-oriented mindset in management have created good prerequisites for responding to a demanding situation of major changes.
The 175th anniversary of the Mustiala Campus and the 130th anniversary of Wetterhoff Institute were reminders of HAMK’s strong roots and meritorious history. The completion of the teaching barn in Mustiala and the Sheet Metal Centre in the University Centre, on the other hand, looked to the future. Both buildings boast cutting edge technologies in their fields and have attracted national attention.
The strategy highlights the student's role at the centre of all activities and better services for business, industry and other organisations. The three different learning models stemming from the ‘student at the centre’ mentality are being tested and developed. Student feedback on 8–16 model implementations has been good, the 18–100 model is well on the way, and the 24/7 model is evolving in step with the increasing offer of virtual studies.
To mark the launch of their operation, the research units have formulated more specific research programmes and intensified their cooperation with international partner universities. Concrete steps have been taken in both the Sheet Metal Centre and the Smart Services Research Unit.
In keeping with the obligations associated with our operating license issued by the Ministry of Education and Culture, we continued to develop our campus structure. A campus agreement has now been concluded with key actors of the region in each urban location. This means increased cooperation with secondary education actors and strengthening of the research units’ activities on the campuses.
The global education business developed positively. Teacher education programmes realised in collaboration with national HEI partners in Brazil and Kazakhstan are not only important to HAMK but also have national significance.
The Finnish society received large numbers of immigrants in 2015. In HAMK, this challenge was taken up by the School of Professional Teacher Education and the School of Wellbeing.
HAMK is now bringing to a successful conclusion its first year as a limited company. New practices have been formulated, and they have started becoming established. The Advisory board will start operating in spring 2016. The balance of HAMK Ltd is healthy, its educational responsibilities suit the needs of the region, and its buildings are appropriate for the operations. The operational preconditions are thus good.
The first year of operation in line with the new strategy crystallised by FUAS has come to an end. HAMK is responsible for the organisation of Summer Studies and technology for the Virtual Campus. Work is progressing well in both areas.
We have reason to be quite satisfied with our results in 2015. Thanks to the timely adjustment measures, our books are in balance regardless of the funding cuts.