University of Vaasa – 2023 – Year in Review

In 2023, the University of Vaasa achieved success in international rankings. The university also became more attractive to applicants, as master's and doctoral programmes grew in popularity. Additionally, the campus renewal continued, with staff moving into the Ankkuri office building and the renovation of Tervahovi beginning. The year was marked by many positive developments, including the introduction of new Master's degree programmes, significant research projects and funding, and impactful collaborations.


The University of Vaasa entered a new era at the beginning of this year, when Minna Martikainen took over as rector.

– I strongly believe that together we will solve the challenges of our time. I believe in science and the problem solving nature of all researchers, said Martikainen.

Rector Minna Martikainen

The international Master’s degree programmes of the University of Vaasa attracted a total of 4834 applications. The number of applications grew by a record-breaking 290 percent compared to the number of applications in 2022. The most popular Master's programmes were International Business, Industrial Management, and Finance.

According to the Research Assessment Exercise of the University of Vaasa, several research groups are at a high international level. In addition, the university's industrial cooperation and societal interaction are working very well. The assessment report was published during the university's anniversary celebration event on 27 January.

University of Vaasa awarded the research and teaching acts of the year.

According to Meniina Wik's doctoral dissertation, fans’ attachment to fictional characters may determine which TV series remains the topic of conversation for decades and which gets cancelled after the first season. The entertainment industry sees major marketing potential in videos edited and published by fans, but there are also copyright issues. In 2023, a total of 27 doctoral students defended their doctoral dissertations at the University of Vaasa.


Dean Arto Rajala and specialist Elli Uusi-Kokko

Every year, the University of Vaasa presents the Big Heart award to a person or group who has promoted equality in the university community. This year, the 2023 Big Heart award went to the Dean of the Marketing and Communications Arto Rajala, and the Student Union’s Specialist in Students Interests Elli Uusi-Kokko.


Mika Grundström started as the university's new vice-rector of research.

Vice-rector Mika Grundström

The University of Vaasa buys all the shares of the real estate company KOy EnergyLab Vaasa. The real estate company owns the building that houses the combustion engine and fuel laboratories, which are a key part of the university's research platform VEBIC. The deal was concluded on Friday 17 March.

The Mission Possible science day featured a large number of presentations and lectures of ongoing research at the University of Vaasa.

Professor Harri Jalonen received the University of Vaasa Science Communication Award. The award was given in recognition of his contribution to the popularisation and communication of science and his contribution to the dialogue in society.

The doctoral programme at the University of Vaasa attracted a record number of applicants. The number of applications increased by 27 % from the previous round.

The number of applications to the University of Vaasa's international master's and doctoral programmes has increased to a record high in 2023.

Researchers from the University of Vaasa and the Luleå University of Technology were given the best paper award in the Entrepreneurship & Small Business track at the Association of Marketing Theory and Practice's AMTP conference in the United States.


In April, we interviewed our two new professors in energy technology. According to Professor Maciej Mikulski, the era of internal combustion engines is not coming to an end but rather entering a new chapter. Fuel flexibility and new carbon-neutral synthetic fuels will bring new challenges but also new opportunities to engine research.

Professor Maciej Mikulski

Professor Xiaoshu Lü's main research area is the use of renewable energy sources in building engineering. Her research group aims to provide solutions to reduce carbon emissions in the built environment through renewable energy, energy storage and artificial intelligence technologies, among others.


D.Sc. Virpi Ala-Heikkilä was appointed as Professor of Practice in financial management and diversity and inclusion. She works as the Global Controlling Transformation Leader at Hitachi Energy. Also PhD Elina Melgin was appointed as Professor of Practice, focusing on strategic responsibility and social impact communication.

Niina Mäntylä, who started as Professor of Public Law at the University of Vaasa in April, considers citizens’ right to express their opinions and to participate in decision-making very important in a state governed by rule of law. If opportunities to do so are not sufficiently protected, the need for influence may erupt through problematic or illegal means of participation, such as civil disobedience or online targeting and shaming.

Professor Niina Mäntylä

The University of Vaasa has received recognition for its efforts in improving researchers’ working conditions and career development. The university successfully underwent an external evaluation as a part of the European Commission's HR Excellence in Research (HRS4R) quality programme. The evaluation panel praises the university for creating an inspiring workplace, as well as a safe and friendly environment for international researchers who come to Finland from around the world. 


The University of Vaasa is collaborating with student organisations, the City of Vaasa, local institutions of higher education, and other stakeholders to ensure that international students feel welcome upon their arrival.

Ankkuri office building in 2023

University's Ankkuri office building has been completely renovated. The staff moved into the renovated premises in June. The building has been transformed into a multi-purpose office for employees, with a variety of spaces for different types of work. The third phase of the campus development is the renovation of Tervahovi. Tervahovi will become a house of learning, with all spaces being adaptable and multifunctional. The Mathilda restaurant on the ground floor will be extended and replaced by a common dining and lounge area for staff and students, linking Tervahovi with Ankkuri office building. 

The Mathilda restaurant is currently undergoing renovations and will serve as a shared dining and lounge area for both employees and students.

A study by Professor Arto Ojala from the University of Vaasa and his colleagues from the University of Eastern Finland, published in the renowned Global Strategy Journal (ABS4), highlights the characteristics of digital products and services, or digital artefacts, and their impact on the internationalisation of new entrepreneur-led digital-based ventures.


The University of Vaasa is part of the EUNICE European University of Customised Education that will expand and develop its activities until 2027 with the support of funding of up to €14.4 million from the European Commission. EUNICE is one of the alliances in the European Universities initiative that is a key pillar of the European Education Area.

Guests from the EUNICE alliance at the university campus. 


The university encourages exploring the potential of artificial intelligence (AI) and large language models for teaching and learning. In general, the use of AI in learning and teaching is allowed.

Researchers at the University of Vaasa, Audencia Business School and Aalto University School of Business received the best paper award in the Social Issues in Management Division at the Academy of Management Conference in Boston, USA.

University of Vaasa joined the European Space Agency's business incubator network.

Director and Professor Heidi Kuusniemi (middle) who leads space economy research projects at the University of Vaasa, hopes that companies aiming for the new space economy will find their way to ESA's business incubation programme.
Yrittäjyyden professori Pekka Töytäri

Pekka Töytäri, Doctor of Technology, has been appointed the new professor of entrepreneurship at the University of Vaasa. The professorship is research-focused and part of the multidisciplinary South Ostrobothnian Epanet research network and University Consortium of Seinäjoki. 


Tanja Risikko, Doctor of Technology, was appointed vice-rector of education and stakeholder relations at the University of Vaasa.

Vice-rector Tanja Risikko

Research suggests that appearance significantly influences the compensation of chief executive officers in the banking sector. In American banks, CEOs with more attractive facial features earn, on average, one million dollars more per year than their less appealing colleagues. This insight comes from a study conducted by researchers from the University of Vaasa and Hanken School of Economics. 

Under-Secretary of State Jarno Syrjälä was named the University of Vaasa Alumnus of the Year 2023.

The University of Vaasa succeeded well in international rankings. The university was among the top 18 small universities in the Times Higher Education (THE) Small Universities Ranking. It is also ranked 401-500 in the Times Higher Education (THE) World University Ranking. In addition, the University of Vaasa's ranking in Business Administration has risen to 18th place in the Global Ranking of Academic Subjects published by Shanghai Ranking.  The previous ranking was among the top 200 universities. In addition to the ranking success, thirteen University of Vaasa researchers and two part-time or visiting international professors are included in the latest list of the top two per cent of the world's most influential researchers, published by Stanford University.

Uusi kansainvälinen tekniikan alan maisteriohjelma käynnistyi Seinäjoella.

A new international master's programme in project management and data analytics has been launched at the University of Vaasa. The Master's in Strategic Project Management programme at the Seinäjoki campus trains experts in the planning, management and implementation of engineering projects. Suman Sapkota from Nepal and Reshma Dsouza from India moved to Seinäjoki in the summer to develop their careers and gain more skills in project management.


The Gustaf Svanljung Endowment Fund has donated €70,000 to the University of Vaasa for the development of research infrastructure. With this donation, the university will expand its engine laboratory in 2024–2025 to incorporate hydrogen utilisation and energy storage.

Rodrigo Mello

Thinking about packing your bags for a job overseas? Rodrigo Mello's new doctoral dissertation shows that whether employees are sent by a company or go independently, international work experience can skyrocket their careers to new heights.


The University of Vaasa joins the Smart Cities and Communities joint master’s degree programme of four European universities. This is the first Erasmus Mundus Joint Programme for the University of Vaasa. The other participating universities are the University of Mons from Belgium, International Hellenic University from Greece, and University of the Basque Country from Spain.


The City of Vaasa, the University of Vaasa and the Ostrobothnia Chamber of Commerce are exploring the development of Vaasa higher education network by consolidating the ownership structure around Vaasa University of Applied Sciences (VAMK). Possible changes in ownership are being considered in an effort to establish a larger, more influential and higher profile unit at the regional, national and international levels, thus strengthening higher education and RDI in the region.


The University of Vaasa receives more than 1.5 million euros in research funding, demonstrating the high quality of research and significant impact to society and industry.

At the University of Vaasa, we study and research fields that hold the key to solving challenges of the world of today and tomorrow, bringing sustainability to the forefront. Watch the video to see our stories.

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