The Spring Forum 2019 was organized for those working with international affairs in higher education institutions to offer up-to-date information on international educational cooperation between higher education institutions.
The special focus of Spring Forum 2019 was on global responsibility and Finland as a part of the solution of global crisis in education and the integration of international students in Finland. The two-day Forum consisted on parallel sessions dealing with mobility, student integration, global responsibility, strategies and immigrants in higher education related sessions.
Opening session of the Spring Forum had a keynote speech from Dr. Ritva Reinikka an economist and the Steering Committee Chair of the international Service Delivery Indicators initiative in education and health care as well as the Research on Improving Systems of Education (RISE) and NIRAS and she gave an interesting talk about their Ministry for Foreign Affairs commissioned, recently published report on “Finland to step up its global role in Education”.
After Dr. Reinikka’s speech the session continued with Team Finland Knowledge (TFK) Panel discussion with four TFK experts; Emilia Ahvenjärvi, Buenos Aires, Argentina; Mari-Anna Suurmunne, Beijing, China; Anna Korpi, Singapore and Ilkka Turunen, Washington DC, USA participating as panelists.
The key messages the experts brought from their regions were that in all regions Finland is known as a country of education but Finland is often only known from its basic education or the “PISA-test reputation”. The panelists pointed out that also Finnish high-quality know-how in higher education and science should be brought out more and shown in the target regions. Also polarization of science and science diplomacy (the current USA vs. China political conflicts) were discussed and it was agreed that the current situation could offer Finnish science and education export more possibilities to promote our expertise towards the regions. According to panelists the Finnish higher education institutes (HEI’s) should also find research and education themes in which they are good at and target regions are interested in and focus cooperation on these fields. It was also discussed how communication between TFK experts and HEI’s in Finland has worked since they started in October 2018 and how to improve joint communication in the future. The TFK experts agreed that the Finnish HEI’s should identify areas in which they are good at and deliver these messages to TFK experts in regions and also make their joint research/researcher networks to work together to maximize the impact.
The last topic discussed in the panel was about how Finland can be “larger than its size” actor in a long and short run and how Finland can build bridges to the regions in certain strong research themes and fields. Global responsibility and education, and knowhow and innovation reputation renewal was also discussed and FinCEAL Initiative was mentioned as an important actor when it comes to the Sustainable Development Goals and promoting STI cooperation between Finland and regions.
UniPID has been participating in mainstreaming global responsibility into the implementation of the Policies to promote internationalization in Finnish higher education and research 2017–2025. During the Spring Days we collaborated in organizing workshops that brainstormed on how to enhance and to measure HEI’s engagement in global responsibility and sustainable development. The students feel very strongly about these issues as well, and we collaborated with SYL, National Union of University Students in Finland, in organizing a session on responsible university education together with Professor Elina Lehtomäki from the University of Oulu. This also gave us a possibility to inform the participants on the Virtual Studies that UniPID offers online.
UniPID and FinCEAL+ BRIDGES had an exhibition booth showing our activities for the Spring Forum participants that was a good way to interact with the participants and to inform them on our activities.
The end session of the Spring Forum had a keynote speech by ministerial adviser Maarit Palonen from the Ministry of Education and Culture discussing about Higher Education Vision work and about EU Presidency of Finland with expert comments from Academic Rector Harri Siiskonen from the University of Eastern Finland and Rector Petri Raivo from the Karelia University of Applied Sciences.
We would like to thank the organizers of Spring Forum 2019, Finnish National Agency of Education (EDUFI), Karelia University Applied Sciences and the University of Eastern Finland for organizing an excellent Forum for sharing up-to-date information on international educational cooperation between higher education institutions. Next year the Spring Forum will take place in Kokkola and is organized by Centria University of Applied Sciences.
Picture credit: Jarkko Mutanen