As this year’s host to the 31st annual EAIE Conference in Helsinki, from 24–27 September 2019, Finland shared some of the secrets of its success with 6200 higher education professionals from 95 countries.
Representing the University of Applied Sciences of the Grisons, Anne-Marie Jäger and Nicole Massüger from the International Office attended the conference, with several goals in mind: campus visits, networking with partner universities, establishing contact with potential new partners, attending professional development seminars and promoting the Swiss higher education system.
Haaga Helia open day
Since 2008, the University of Applied Sciences of the Grisons and Haaga Helia have been actively exchanging students. In fact, over 40 Swiss students have studied there, making it our most popular destination. Before the conference, Haaga Helia invited over 100 representatives of their global partner university network to visit their institution. What struck me was the openness and transparency of the campus architecture, which creates pleasant workspaces and an inspiring learning environment (think glass-walled classrooms, chill-out areas for students, cleverly designed meeting areas and quiet zones). We also gained an insight into why Finnish universities are known as leaders in innovation, with a tour of their StartUp School, which acts as a university-linked business incubator to support student entrepreneurship.
Collaboration Manager, Timo-Pekka Uotila introduces the StartUp School
Laapeenranta University of Technology
Meanwhile, 230 km further east on the Russian border, Lappeenranta University of Technology (LUT) also invited partner universities to attend their open day. Another long-standing partnership with the University of Applied Sciences of the Grisons, our master students regularly spend an exchange semester at LUT and last year 11 students attended their summer school. Travelling through the vast forests, which incidentally make up 72% of the Finnish landscape, one passes through a labyrinth of serene lakes, islands, rivers and canals.
With such pristine landscapes, no wonder the themes of nature, innovation and sustainability are at the heart of Finnish identity and these topics are reflected in the Finnish higher educational institutions’ strategies. For the LUT community this is certainly the case; «clean energy and water, circular economy and sustainable business are the key questions of humankind to which LUT seeks solutions through technology and business».
After these fascinating insights into two Finnish universities, it was time achieve our other main goal for the week – connecting with 15 partner universities and making contact with potential new partners. Personal contact is highly valuable when discussing the cooperation and developing new ideas. As the University of Applied Sciences of the Grisons now has a new status and a new name, it was an ideal opportunity to communicate these changes. Some colleagues we met for the first time, only «knowing» them by e-mail previously, whereas others the relationship has been long-established and annual meetings at the EAIE conference have become a regular fixture.
International relations takes place in every university, so it was an ideal opportunity to network with this expert community from 95 countries and share best-practice experiences. From fascinating key-note speakers, informative sessions to interactive «campfire» discussions, the numerous topics catered for all interest groups: mobility advising, international relations, marketing and recruitment, business education, internationalization strategy and government policy.
The EAIE conference hosts a world-class exhibition that brings together over 600 higher education institutions, government agencies and university service providers. Swissuniversities organizes the «Study in Switzerland+» booth, which showcases the Swiss higher education system. As delegates from the University of Applied Sciences of the Grisons, we promoted our institution at the stand, answered questions about the Swiss higher education system and connected people to Swiss institutions. The Swiss booth really stood out from the rest, with its innovative design and its interactive user concept, designed by Presence Switzerland. A new testimonial video featuring the world-renowned scientist and explorer Bertrand Piccard was shown at the Swiss stand, explaining how Swiss higher education has enabled him to achieve his scientific breakthroughs, specifically the non-stop flight around the world using the Solar Impulse aircraft. A delegation of Swiss students from ESN were on hand to engage the public with an interactive quiz and the studyinswitzerland.plus website showcased the Swiss higher education system. Visitors to the stand and partner universities commented that the Swiss stand was the most visually appealing at the fair and conveyed a positive image about Switzerland.
Anne-Marie Jäger and Nicole Massüger represent FHGR
Back in the office after an inspiring week in Finland, it’s now time to follow-up on the to-do list. If you’re interesting in finding out more about the international mobility programme, either as a student or staff member, don’t hesitate to contact Anne-Marie Jäger.
Anne-Marie Jäger, Head of International Office, attended the EAIE Conference in Helsinki to represent the University of Applied Sciences of the Grisons.