Universities of applied sciences and regional competitiveness
The year’s first issue of the UAS Journal reviews the impact that universities of applied sciences have on competitiveness and entrepreneurship in their local region. When applying for licenses, the universities of applied sciences (UAS) have specified their focal areas and profiles so that they are based on the needs of enterprises and public services in their region. The research, development and innovation (RDI) activities at universities of applied sciences are now well-known for being demand and user-oriented.
In her editorial, President Outi Kallioinen states that universities of applied sciences have found their niche in the innovation system. An increase in innovation activities will establish new growth enterprise activities. Regional development is also visible as a growth in support for the internationalisation of regions. The significance of Master’s Degrees from universities of applied sciences as an integral part of the development of entrepreneurship is growing, and UAS students have brought their own contribution to each region’s development when participating in practical training or completing their theses.
In his column, SAMOK ry Vice Chairperson Mikkel Näkkäläjärvi emphasises the importance of cooperation between universities of applied sciences, universities and enterprises. He would like to see even more students participate in joint projects so they could establish professional contacts and learn through practice.
The journal’s articles highlight numerous examples of cooperation between universities of applied sciences, universities, research institutes, regional development companies and enterprises, and the significance of this cooperation for a regions’ competitiveness. The results are concrete, and operating models can be expanded to incorporate activities on a national level. Cooperation has also provided universities of applied sciences with, for example, the opportunity to participate in research projects with top-level expertise networks (SHOK).
Numerous articles outline cooperation in business world. Laborer negotiations are ensuring that when students enter the workplace their work is more learning-oriented. The authors of another article are concerned that employment opportunities that can result in fruitful learning in the workplace can bring about havoc to an enterprise’s marketing. Shared operating models are needed. An increase in multidisciplinary studies and RDI activities can help master’s degree studies better impart the broad professional skills future employees will need.
Improving the competitiveness of enterprises requires internationalisation. The articles give guidelines on how universities of applied sciences and enterprises can work together to achieve the international market. Additionally, international UAS reviews have provided valuable outside insight, both in Eastern Finland (ISAT – Universities of Applied Sciences in Eastern Finland) and Southern Finland (FUAS Federation of Universities of Applied Sciences), on how to develop cooperation between focal areas and actors especially with regard to RDI activities.
We wish you many interesting moments reading this UAS Journal in the spirit of regional development!
Editor-in-Chief Riitta Rissanen (1.3. Arene ry) and journalists Ilkka Väänänen (Lahti University of Applied Sciences) and Eero Pekkarinen (Lapland University of Applied Sciences)
The role of universities of applied sciences in the competiveness and business activities in their regions
Outi Kallioinen, President, Lahti University of Applied Sciences
Universities of applied sciences play a major role in the renewal of the national and regional expertise base, in the boosting of regional competitiveness and the promotion of business activities. In their new operating licences, which entered into force at the beginning of 2014, universities of applied sciences have set out their vision for 2020 and specified their strategic focus areas and profiles in training and RDI activities. Under the proposed new act on the universities of applied sciences, innovation activities would become a task of the universities of applied sciences. There are good grounds for this proposal and I fully support it. By playing a role in innovation activities, universities of applied sciences bring added value to their regions through service development, innovations, product development, inventions and patents, which also generate genuine growth business. In addition to RDI, regional competitiveness is also boosted by vocationally oriented students in bachelor’s and master’s degree programmes. Supporting internationalisation of regions, international students and researchers, transfer of international expertise and acquisition of international research funding are main objectives in the regional development work of universities of applied sciences and in the process of making regions part of a wider international community.
Creating open, authentic and communal learning environments in the network of virtual universities of applied sciences through pedagogic peer development
Irja Leppisaari, Principal Lecturer, Centria University of Applied Sciences
The author examines the implementation of authentic learning dimensions on ten sexual health courses produced as part of the project ’open collaborative virtual learning environment’ (Ayvot). The purpose of the joint project of six universities of applied sciences and three expert organisations, which was coordinated by the network of virtual universities of applied sciences, was to ensure the quality of the Seksuaaliterveysasema.fi learning environment through pedagogic peer development. Using authentic learning evaluation criteria (Herrington, Reeves & Oliver, 2010), a total of 12 teachers and working life experts and four members of the pedagogic project team produced a peer review of the courses during their finalisation stage. The strongest elements were authentic context and tasks. The peer review highlighted pedagogic challenges that are primarily linked with communal knowledge building and authentic evaluation. Distance peer review was seen as a useful operating model in the development of open, authentic and communal e-learning.
Satakunta University of Applied Sciences develops rural tourism through entrepreneurship
Sanna-Mari Renfors, Senior Lecturer, Satakunta University of Applied Sciences
Jaana Ruoho, Senior Lecturer, Satakunta University of Applied Sciences
Satakunta University of Applied Sciences focuses on developing rural entrepreneurship in two, new projects. In Satakunta region the potential of tourism as a rural industry has not yet been fully exploited. The economic growth of rural tourism has been weak and systematic collaboration between different actors and entrepreneurs is missing. The role of the University is now to integrate and to strengthen regional development work and to support entrepreneurs. The co-ordination project of rural tourism aims at creating a network and developing co-operation activities between the rural tourism entrepreneurs and other regional partners. Green care -project explores opportunities for utilizing nature as a business resource in rural areas. The article describes the activities performed in both projects.
Increasing the quality and competitiveness of local services through accessibility projects
Senior Lecturer, MSc and Head of the R&CC / Accessibility, ltd, Kati Karinharju, Satakunta University of Applied Sciences
Project worker, physiotherapist, ltd, Riikka Tupala, Satakunta University of Applied Sciences
Satakunta University of Applied Sciences (SAMK) has made a long and determined work in developing and increasing accessibility in Satakunta area. Research and development programs made in SAMK have proved that best results in developing accessibility are gained in co-operation with the local service producers and entrepreneurs. The value bases of the accessibility are equality, non-discrimination and tolerance, but accessibility can also be seen as a trademark for the entrepreneurs. Accessible services not only increase the amount of the clients, but also indicate the values of entrepreneurs’. (Koota-Valkeapää, 2013.)
This article presents “Yyteri for all” and “INNOKE” projects and those impacts on local area services from accessibility point of view. Yyteri for All -research and development project was running in years 2009–2011 as a part of Sataesteetön-project. The aim of the Yyteri for all -project was to respond to the needs of a society to support independent and unrestricted life in cooperation and interaction between professionals and students in SAMK and a vast business network. The essence of the project was to provide services at the Yyteri beach area equally for all and to enable full participation through inclusive physical and social environment. The project supported entrepreneurs, clubs and communities in arranging activities for all and altering their services and equipment to meet the needs of all clients. Special attention was paid to physical and social conditions available in the area.
As a result of the project, was created practical “Yyteri for all -model”. This “learning by doing” –model turned out to be effective and long lasting way to increase opportunities, participation and accessibility awareness among the local service producers and entrepreneurs. In spring 2012 Yyteri for all -model was rewarded by Design for all foundation (http://designforall.org/en/novetats/noticia.php?id=1672 .) The Yyteri for All -model assured the continuum of the established development in the region. In a year 2011 the INNOKE-project started and one of its main goals was spreading the Yyteri for all -model in a wider area among the SMEs around the Satakunta region.
Studying marketing and German in a collaborative project – Lessons learned from the project ’SAMKin kanssa Saksaan’ (With SAMK to Germany)
Eila Minkkinen, Senior Lecturer, Satakunta University of Applied Sciences
Yki Myntti, Senior Lecturer, Satakunta University of Applied Sciences
Satakunta University of Applied Sciences (SAMK) and a local micro small company participated together in Anuga 2013 fair in Cologne in October 2013. The main goal was to help the food company to become established on the German market. Three students from SAMK assisted at the stand and helped to exhibit the product, Rose Petal Jam. The learning objectives for the students were to improve the skills of communication with international retailers as well as marketing communication and practical stand procedures in general.
INPUT, TEMPUT AND OUTPUT – an innovation model from Lahti
Mika Kylänen, Principal Lecturer, Lahti University of Applied Sciences
Jussi Mozo, Senior Lecturer, Lahti University of Applied Sciences
Anu Raappana, Research Manager, Lahti University of Applied Sciences
Ilkka Väänänen, Research Director, Lahti University of Applied Sciences
The article describes an innovation model developed in Lahti. The model has three actors: a regional development company, a university, a customer company of the regional development company and a university of applied sciences. The customer company has identified a need for which it orders a solution from the regional development company. The regional development company purchases the solution from a university of applied sciences, which acts as a subcontractor and supplies the ordered product in the form of a student project. The university plays a major role in the model, both as a party carrying out basic research and a party popularizing science. In this manner, the regional development organisation, the university of applied sciences and the university play a regional role by providing a framework for multilateral and multisectoral innovation by relaying ideas, knowledge, expertise and solutions between organisations. All parties benefit from the process. The construction of the model has been going on in several projects for many years and it will be piloted in 2014. The model will provide a response to a current challenge in which the needs of companies and strengths of the parties (input) and the concrete examples of solutions and the benefits generated by the collaboration for each party (output) are known. However, the central phase of the process (temput) is still missing and the article tries to facilitate the process of initiating it.
Cooperative development for commercialization on technological innovations
Simo Sinkko, Senior Lecturer, Saimaa University of Applied Sciences
Kirsi Viskari, Research Manager, Saimaa University of Applied Sciences
Promotion of inventions into commercialized innovations is often a slow process, demanding cooperation of various skills and knowledge areas. Commercialization tasks should be included in the technical development process as early as possible to ensure that the development is targeted towards real needs and requirements of the market. This describes the cooperation between Saimaa University of Applied Sciences and Lappeenranta University of Technology in development projects of eg. hybrid bus and off-road vehicles. The cooperation is also extended to cover the vocational school Sampo. This kind of combination of scientific research, applied development and planning and practical building and installing, the project gains multi-skilled input and at the same time support the main aims of each school and university. This article presents this cooperation by introducing some real life project examples.
SHOK research helping to save energy and water
Minna Keinänen-Toivola, Project Manager, WANDER Nordic Water and Materials Institute/Satakunta University of Applied Sciences
Aino Pelto-Huikko, Researcher, WANDER Nordic Water and Materials Institute/Satakunta University of Applied Sciences
Researchers of the WANDER Nordic Water and Materials Institute, Satakunta University of Applied Sciences energy and environment expertise area, Aalto University, National Institute for Health and Welfare and the University of Eastern Finland and Oras Oy, Cupori Oy and Uponor Oy are jointly studying the saving of water and energy in household water systems and water hygienics. The study is part of the user-centric indoor environment package of the indoor environment programme carried out as part of the Strategic Centres for Science, Technology and Innovation (SHOKs).
GeoMaterials – new concrete binders, water treatment adsorbents and soil stabilization materials
Kimmo Kemppainen, Project Manager, Kajaani University of Applied Sciences
Minna Sarkkinen, Project Researcher, Kajaani University of Applied Sciences
Tero Luukkonen, Project Researcher, Kajaani University of Applied Sciences
Utilization of industrial by-products is becoming constantly more important due to the increasing fees of dumping. There are also locally available minerals in Kainuu region with potential new applications. Many of these materials such as fly ash, blast furnace slag, microsilica or kaolinite can be used in the process of geopolymerization. Geopolymers are inorganic polymers, synthesized by the dissolution of raw material aluminosilicate structure in an alkaline solution and subsequent polymerization. Geopolymers have good chemical and heat resistances, significantly lower CO2 footprint compared to the traditional Portland cement and high activity in adsorption compared to the raw materials. In GeoMaterials project at Kajaani UAS geopolymers are developed and tested as new concrete-like materials, for water treatment applications and to be used in the soil stabilization. Each of these areas has business potential and is of interest by local firms.
Are schools interfering with the markets? – Examining regional impacts from the perspective of research practice
Mika Boedeker, Principal Lecturer, Tampere University of Applied Sciences, Business
Tuula Andersson, Senior Lecturer, Tampere University of Applied Sciences, Business
Regional development is one of the tasks of polytechnics. If this is done in the form of student work the risk of unfair competition in the market is undeniable. However, true business assignments are fertile learning situations for the students as well as for teachers and companies. With shared rules and co-operation it is possible to create such policies and models that enable businesses and polytechnics to operate in the same market side by side.
Local embeddednes and contribution to local development by Universities of Applied Sciences
Susanna Kivelä, Principal Lecturer, Laurea University of Applied Sciences
The contribution of Universities of Applied Sciences to local development comes from combining international and virtual networks with regional and local awareness. The restructuring of the national university network, however, is challenging the interrelationship between the universities and regions. This article studies the positive impacts of local embeddednes by Universities of Applied
Sciences, as well as the possibilities to maintain these positive effects through change. The article is based on a presentation held at the Conference on Education at Universities of Applied Sciences and Vocational Institutes in 2013.
How to change your work to credits -negotiation
Kimmo Mäki, Principal Lecturer, School of Vocational Teacher Education, HAAGA-HELIA University of Applied Sciences,
Susanna Niinistö-Sivuranta, Director, Laurea University of Applied Sciences
It is natural that students work during their studies. Until now work has been considered an impediment for studies. Universities of Applied Sciences are not taking advantage of the work done in the field to grow students’ opportunities to earn credits and to benefit their work. We claim that it is time to do something: to accelerate studies and to integrate learning in to working life even more than before. This is a new kind of process and we call it how to change your work to credits (työn opinnollistaminen). The key issue is so-called opinnollistamisneuvottelu (how to change your work to credits -negotiation), which is also called a laborer negotiation “duunarineuvottelu”. What kinds of things are affecting the success of the negotiation? We came up with the three ideas: 1) there can’t be any kind of value setup, privileged voices or tension between negotiators or objectives 2) there must be the ability to create shared meaning and to find the words that can describe the competences that have been developed in the work and finally 3) there has to be the will to understand multi-disciplinary communication situations.
Results of the international evaluation of ISAT partnership and conclusions concerning focus areas
Lasse Neuvonen, Director of Planning, Karelia University of Applied Sciences
Riitta Paasivuori, Quality Manager, Savonia University of Applied Sciences
ISAT comprises the Karelia University of Applied Sciences and the Savonia University of Applied Sciences. The two educational institutions agreed on joint focus areas in the ISAT partnership strategy for 2010-2013. It was determined that an international evaluation would bring clear added value for activities in the focus areas, research, development and innovation and regional development as a whole. Professor Ellen Hazelkorn was selected as the external evaluator.
The results indicate that the ISAT partnership has provided a sound development basis for focus areas and for the development of the educational offerings of the two institutions. ISAT provides an opportunity to respond to the challenges of the current higher education policy in a situation characterised by funding cuts and performance-based requirements. Full development and use of the selected ISAT focus areas requires an adequate amount of critical mass (both experts and funding opportunities) and stronger student involvement in focus area activities. The conclusion was that there is too much reliance on structural funds in the research work. This highlights the role of individual projects and does not support systematic research work. In the view of Professor Hazelkorn, knowledge should be in a more concrete and understandable form.
She also concluded that the wider dissemination of the focus areas in the activities of the universities of applied sciences was in its initial stages. Focus areas have joint training offerings and degree programmes. As part of the focus areas, the ISAT partners have carried out joint projects and produced joint publications. The conclusion was that the publications are of high quality. ISAT partnership should be made more known internationally. The results of the RDI work are only known to the experts of the focus areas. The focus areas have been properly selected. The focus areas serve regional needs. At the moment the focus areas are in different stages of development and have different potential. Particularly in training (such as summer courses, joint study programmes) and internationalisation, results have been achieved and there are clear signs of progress. The focus areas must have clearer and more measurable objectives so that they can be properly developed and evaluated.
International and external evaluation is an excellent way of highlighting strong areas and matters requiring development. The evaluator was guided by higher education policy and her own opinions on how the focus areas are examined internationally. The evaluator stopped short of providing too precise interpretations of the current state of the ISAT partnership and concluded that the final prioritisation concerning development and strategy evaluation should be left to ISAT.
The interdisciplinary curriculum at Kymenlaakso University of Applied Sciences
Satu Peltola, Principal Lecturer, Kymenlaakso University of Applied Sciences
The structural changes in the Kymenlaakso region during recent years have required innovation and know-how in order to improve the attractiveness of the area and ensure the generation of new jobs and services. There was a willingness to develop degree-level education at Kymenlaakso University of Applied Sciences, and the path chosen involved creating an interdisciplinary curriculum that also includes some common courses. The planning started in 2012, and the first courses following the new curriculum began in autumn 2013. To pilot the scheme, two English-language programmes were selected: International Business Management (IBM) and Master of Culture and Arts, Degree Programme in Design. The objective was to rebuild the curriculums for both of these degree programmes so that the degrees would support the students’ research, development and innovation RDI know-how and better match the general skills that they would need in contemporary work life.
FUAS Research Review – An evaluation of research, development and innovation activities at FUAS institutions
Development Manager, DSc (Econ & Bus. Adm.), Ulla Kotonen, FUAS – Federation of Universities of Applied Sciences, firstname.lastname@example.org
In the FUAS Research Review, the RDI activities of three FUAS Universities of Applied Sciences (HAMK University of Applied Sciences, Lahti University of Applied Sciences and Laurea University of Applied Sciences) were assessed by the international audit board. The review looked at the vision and strategy developed by FUAS and the options for the continuous development of RDI activities at FUAS and its member universities. The review showed that there are many reasons to be confident about the development of RDI into a strong FUAS function. There are high-quality and enthusiastic staff and students, and the four focus areas are relevant and complement each other. However, more efforts need to be put into the development of a common agenda with the regional policy makers and with the business sector. Also possibilities for changes in the organisational structure should be discussed. As a conclusion, the Audit Board defined two strategic choices for developing RDI: RDI as an activity supporting teaching and RDI as a self-determined function.
The Finnish Higher Education Evaluation Council – a judge or a partner for universities of applied sciences
Tapio Varmola, President, Seinäjoki University of Applied Sciences
The Finnish Higher Education Evaluation Council has shown the way for independent and high-quality evaluation in Finland. Universities of applied sciences have been in an equal position with other institutions of higher education. Constructive evaluation has become a brand of higher education evaluation in Finland and an example of this are the evaluations of quality systems.
Universities of applied sciences help to make regions more competitive
Mikkel Näkkäläjärvi, Vice Chairperson, the Union of Students in Finnish Universities of Applied Sciences – SAMOK
Successful cooperation between companies and universities of applied sciences help to boost regional competitiveness. By specialising in the right expertise areas and in accordance with regional needs, universities of applied sciences can play an increasingly important role in regional development.
Will development research help in the development of teaching?
Sanna Laulainen, Senior Lecturer, Department of Health and Social Management, University of Eastern Finland
Merja Sinkkonen, Principal Lecturer, Degree Programme in Social Services, Tampere University of Applied Sciences
The publication ’Kehittämistutkimus opetusalalla’ (Development research in the educational sector) discusses development research in the educational sector as a method and as a practice. In particular, the publication encourages readers to think about their own work orientation and the basis for the development of their own teaching work. In an optimal situation, development research helps to produce new practical models and research information that can be used to support learning and teaching.