University of Vaasa
Mission: Our mission is to do impactful research and educate experts that address the needs of society today and in the future. We advance competitiveness, innovation and sustainable development in business, technology and society.
1. Please describe your institution’s international (EU and non-EU) strategy. In your description please explain
a) how you choose your partners
b) in which geographical area(s) and
c) the most important objectives and target groups of your mobility activities (with regard to staff and students in first, second and third cycles, including study and training, and short cycles).
If applicable, also explain how your institution participates in the development of double/multiple/joint degrees. (max. 5000 char)
Please reflect on the Erasmus actions you would like to take part in and: • Explain how they will be implemented in practice at your institution. • Please explain how your institution’s participation in these actions will contribute to achieving the objectives of your institutional strategy.
What is the envisaged impact of your participation in the Erasmus+ Programme on your institution? • Please reflect on targets, as well as qualitative and quantitative indicators in monitoring this impact (such as mobility targets for student/staff mobility, quality of the implementation, support for participants on mobility, increased involvement in cooperation projects (under the KA2 action), sustainability/long term impact of projects etc.) • You are encouraged to offer an indicative timeline for achieving the targets related to the Erasmus+ actions.
Our internationalisation strategy has some key areas of interest. We have in the past taken a keen role in building relations across the globe and see ourselves as an internationally renowned and modern actor that has a lot to offer. This is something we will aim for in the new Erasmus + programme as well, not to forget our bilateral partnerships outside the Erasmus+ context. In the key areas of interest, we count also the Global Pilots Initiatives towards Africa, India and China. So far, we are well networked and cooperate with more than 200 universities in more than 40 countries. The University is keen to develop its networks further and we are always open to new partners. Our particular interest is identifying new partners in Southeast and Australasia, the Americas, and Europe beyond the EU. In the EU countries, we have built and maintain a network of good, established partnerships with HEIs of high standard, ranking and accreditations. We focus on keeping the activities within our partnership agreements well balanced and active. It is important to select partners that are able to offer courses in the fields of study corresponding to our offer, preferably in English, and also build our own English-taught- course catalogue and programmes to attract incoming students and staff from across the world. One key element of our strategy is to become an institute of higher education attractive enough not only nationally but very much so internationally, for degree students.
a) The University of Vaasa works in partnership with academically established science universities around the world in order to develop excellence in research and education. This partner policy defines the selection of international cooperation partners in education for the University.
Strategy for international educational and research cooperation
While we are already recognised for our international outlook, our University strategy states we are the gateway to a region that acts as one big living lab. Our University is a specialist provider in 2030, an internationally recognised research university with 35% of its students and faculty being international. As a young and agile university, we seek to be internationally recognised for our world-class education and high-impact research integrating business and technology to power innovation for sustainable futures. As stated in the University’s strategy, our ambition is to achieve leadership in this area as a highly valued partner within regional and international innovation ecosystems. This strategic ambition and our Schools' education and research activities are at the heart of our cooperation with international and European universities. Building on a strong reputation for international outlook, we encourage all units in our university to engage in international cooperation in form of exchanging students, teachers, scholars, ideas and procedures. These activities are supplemented by university- or school-level collaboration agreements that the University of Vaasa has concluded with a selected group of international universities, known as University of Vaasa Partners.
The University also champions researcher exchange. Our four schools and sixteen research groups conduct high-quality research. They participate actively in both national and international collaborative networks. The three phenomenon-based research platforms open up our doors to the surrounding society and bring together expertise and resources from across the university: Vaasa Energy Business Innovation Centre (VEBIC), Digital Economy and the Innovation and Entrepreneurship InnoLab.
Researcher exchange is coordinated by the Research Services and Graduate School in collaboration with HR Services
We as a University seek to develop partnerships with selected so called strategic partners with criteria presented in this document. Collaboration with these strategic partners contains double degree agreements with the University’s international Master’s programmes, as well as consistent and active student, teacher and researcher exchange along with possibilities to collaborate in curriculum development, summer schools and seminars as well as joint research activities and publications. When evaluating these potential partnerships, academic accreditation and ranking play an important role alongside with personal relations.
According to the strategy of the University of Vaasa, the international Master’s programmes are built on our focus areas, namely energy transitions, digital economy and innovation, giving the double degrees a clear possibility to enhance cooperation in these important fields. The University aims to achieve long-lasting and multidisciplinary partnerships with its partners in research and education.
The University of Vaasa actively participates in a number of renowned international networks for research and education as well as mobility, including:
- EFMD EQUIS
- MIB-EPAS Consortium
- Erasmus+ programme
- Nordplus-networks: Nordlys, Norek, Nordtek, and Nordplus Network for Media and Communication
b) our focus areas for partnerships include EU countries, Southeast and Australasia, the Americas, and Europe beyond the EU. We are building contacts and partnerships also in the Global Pilots areas of Africa, India and China.
c) the University of Vaasa has been very active in the Erasmus+ programme over the years and will aim to do so during the programme period of 2021-2027 as well. The main focus will be on keeping the partnerships active, maintaining good contacts with the partners and ensuring such actions are taken that will lead into a balanced number of mobilities of students and staff or teacher exchanges. All these are at the core of our international strategy. It is important to ensure that the offer in the agreements will meet the expectations of not only our own students and staff but also those of our partners, both academically and in the structures around organising the actual exchanges. In many of the partnerships the possibility to build joint programmes and double degree programmes are carefully considered and built when the interests are mutual. These actions will enable us to gain the trust of our existing and new partners and also to attract more students to our campus. Besides exchanges, it will be a particular area of focus to attract international degree students to our campus in the future and the Erasmus + programme will provide us a channel towards this objective.
The new Erasmus + programme offers the possibility to co-organise blended intensive courses (BIPs) and short cycle programmes so an even wider number of students will be able to benefit from the programme. Such opportunities are regularly scanned and made use of inside the networks this university is participating in. Green travel will be encouraged and supported.
- We work in KA1 projects and Global mobilities projects. Sufficient funding is regularly applied for supporting the mobilities and necessary structures.
- In KA2 we are already, since the piloting period, a member in a European Universities Alliance called EUNICE. The alliance aims to unite new generations to solve European challenges and knowledge gaps across language, culture and geographical barriers in a multi-scientific manner. It has so far seven member HEIs around Europe and it will grow in the near future to strengthen its position and offer. Within this alliance, the University of Vaasa is co-responsible for the Work Package 2 Virtual Interactive Social European University and Work package 4 Training, Research & Development for Industry-oriented Problems. Across the offer, we are active in a sub project named Peer IR View, where the international relations officers build their operations to match the common needs of the alliance.
- We are not active in KA3.
Programmes offered in English for exchange students
There is a large number of studies available in English, both on the Bachelor and Master level, for exchange students: for the academic year 2022-2023 there are 204 ECTS in business studies, 167 ECTS in communication, administrative sciences and languages, and 325 ECTS in technology.
The University of Vaasa also offers six English-taught international Master's programmes of 120 ECTS, in which some of the courses may be available to exchange students from a corresponding level.
The programmes have undergone long-term development work and attract students with their high-quality content. Admission onto the University’s programmes is competitive – with 145 study places available, a total of 1,402 applications from 83 different countries were received in 2020 and interest has increased every year. The share of applicants from outside the EU/EEA is now 58.5% of all applicants.
The University of Vaasa has Erasmus+, Nordplus and bilateral partnership agreements worldwide in more that 40 countries with over 200 universities. The free mover-option is only available from the University of Vaasa abroad but not vice versa.
Every year, about 260 (around 1/3 of the annual intake) University of Vaasa students study or intern abroad for a minimum of three months. The number of incoming students arriving to Vaasa corresponds well to the outgoing number and is about 200 annually.
Outgoing students have to complete a minimum of 15 ECTS during their exchange. The length of the exchange period can vary from two months to a semester or an academic year and the ECTS requirements are then matched to the period in question. [AJ1] [MM2] [AJ3] As for the incoming students, it is up to the sending institution to monitor the amount of studies accomplished in the University of Vaasa. Our partnership agreements have to cover mobility both ways and a good balance of reciprocal exchanges is one of the priorities.
It is a major part of our international programme to encourage our students to study abroad and accept international students to our campus. The Erasmus+ programme is at the heart of these objectives and offers the essential framework to reach them.
Quality assurance of the mobility
The University monitors the quality of exchanges by using a feedback form for incoming and outgoing students as well as for international tutors. The Vaasa student reports include a general academic grade for the institution and a general grade for the overall experience as well as written feedback.
Based on the feedback from the EUSurveys of the Erasmus+ programme (the feedback from the students coming to Finland) in recent years, a great majority of incoming exchange students were very satisfied with their mobility experience in the University of Vaasa.
Partner selection process
The University of Vaasa regularly receives inquiries for new partnerships. These are answered by the international partnership specialist who evaluates whether to take them further to collaboration negotiations. They are discussed with the Schools and the Vice Rector, International, and if all are in favour of them, agreements are duly signed digitally (Erasmus Without Papers) or in a written form if they are bilateral agreements outside EU.
When potential partner universities are evaluated, the following criteria are considered:
- Is the university accredited nationally or by a specific accreditation body (EFMD Accredited, EQUIS, AACSB, AMBA, EUR-ACE)?
- How well does the university perform in different rankings (THE World University Rankings, QS World University Rankings, ARWU Shanghai Ranking, Leiden and other equivalent rankings)?
- What is the geographical position of the university and is there a need for more partners in that particular country? Are there implications of students’ interests towards the country and will the incoming students have an interest in studying in Finland?
- Does the potential partner university have a specific strong corresponding academic field with which cooperation is wished for?
- Does the potential partner have degree education ranging from Bachelor to Doctoral?
- Are there English taught courses available (min. 15 ECTS for short cycle and 20 ECTS for a semester)?
- Are there personal links on School and/or university level with the other university?
- Is there support available for the exchange students in the receiving university?
The partnership proposals are evaluated against the criteria and discussed with the Vice Rector, International. Relevant faculty and staff are consulted as required. New partnerships are updated on the website of the university for the students to view. The University seeks to engage its community proactively in developing its partnerships, including key internal stakeholders and bodies.
Agreements are signed for a certain time period after which the agreements are reviewed with the quantitative (number/forms of co-operation and mobility) and qualitative (quality of co-operation) indicators in mind. Discussions regarding the future renewal as described above.
Selection of strategic partners
In the selection of strategic partners (double degrees) the following criteria is applied:
- Programme contents correspondence. Programme has to be given fully in English.
- Geographical positioning and the visibility of essential cooperation areas on the University level.
- School–level positioning and standing
- Business studies: Central-Europe, Asia, China
- Technology: Eastern-Europe, Asia (China, Thailand, Korea)
- Mobility outcomes (incoming and outgoing students, incoming student material, student feedback)
- Existing contacts (academic and administrative contacts)
- the length of the cooperation, earlier cooperation
Strategic partnerships are discussed with the programme managers and in the programme steering committees and taken to the School board, vice rectors and the rector. Double degree agreements are signed by the deans and mobility agreements concerning the double degrees are signed as described above.
Organising the international operations of the university and its mobilities
The University of Vaasa will have an international office. The Vice Rector International has overall responsibility for developing international relationships and works in close collaboration with the other vice rectors and relevant services. The International Office will comprise a core team and interact closely with other staff and services in the University that have a strong international connection in their role. The wider international team of the University is broadly positioned. Staff include a manager responsible for the student recruitment, managers responsible for the Global pilots and international admission specialists. There are programme coordinators for the double degree programmes and courses offered in English. The mobilities are organised from a central office where the incoming and outgoing coordinators advice, select, organise and monitor student and staff mobilities. An international partnership specialist is responsible for maintaining the contacts to all the partners and keeping the agreements up to date. The same specialist is active in national and international networks and speaks for the University in them.
For the benefit of our international degree students, we invest in the students' Finnish and Swedish language skills as well as offer them career services and internships in our region.
By the end of the Erasmus + programme period of 2021-2027 the University of Vaasa will have advanced its position and standing as a leading European and Nordic university. It will have built and strengthened its networks and partnerships to fit its international strategy and aims. It has become an engaged and proactive partner to its European alliances and networks and other partners in Europe and the countries outside EU. It has been able to recruit an increasing number of exchange, double degree and degree students on its campus and keeps sending out a growing number of students, teachers and members of staff to benefit the strategy aligned in this document.