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The universities of applied sciences compared their activities in research and development in Western Europe.
Research and development carry less weight in Finland

The Pirkanmaa, Seinäjoki, TAMK Universities of Applied Sciences and the Swedish-speaking Novia Polytechnic operating in Vaasa have established in a comparative study that the conditions for R & D in the Finnish polytechnics are weaker than in comparable institutions in Western Europe.  Several European polytechnics are currently clarifying their objectives in R & D; in Finland the polytechnics moreover anticipate new forms of financing supporting regional co-operation with business life.

Ulla-Maija Koivula and Perttu Heino
Research Director Perttu Heino of TAMK University of Applied Sciences (left) and Principal Lecturer Ulla-Maija Koivula of Pirkanmaa University of Applied Sciences have been engaged in benchmarking to compare research and development in Finnish and western European polytechnics.
High resolution image (1405 Kb)
Photo: Kalle Heiska

At the beginning of the millennium the so-called third task of the Finnish polytechnics requires the polytechnics to engage in applied R & D which supports the development and occupation structure of their region. The study conducted by four polytechnics in western Finland compared their activities to three similar institutions in Western Europe, namely in Belgium, Holland and Germany.

The comparison revealed that the seven institutions concerned have in recent years changed from being purely teaching polytechnics to expert R & D organizations.R & D partners have included the public sector, companies and organizations of the so-called third sector.

As in Finland, in continental Europe, too, the financing of polytechnic R & D is arranged in several different ways.  In continental Europe national governments are more active than in Finland in allocating funding specifically for polytechnic’s R & D linked to business life. Moreover, in the Western European institutions some of the teaching personnel are researcher-teachers; they are encouraged through additional research funding when they achieve new R & D projects.

The R & D work of each of the institutions concerned has its own strategic strengths: support for business life, students’ expertise and professional development through placements, promoting teachers’ project activity and expertise, publishing, obtaining external funding, demonstrating academic research expertise or for example networking in R & D activity.  Once the survey had been completed the institutions concluded new international R & D co-operation agreements, among others under the auspices of the West Finland Innovation Alliance.

In connection with this benchmarking study it emerged that in continental Europe students have an access to Master studies both in the polytechnic or in universities through so called bridging courses including research methodology. Master students in polytechnics are also engaged in research and development projects more compared to the Finnish model.

This benchmarking study comparing Finnish and Western European polytechnics and creating good practices was funded by the Finnish Higher Edcuation Evaluation Council (FINHEEC under the Ministry of Education, Finland and part of the polytechnics’ own R & D.  It was coordinated by the Pirkanmaa University of Applied Sciences.

More information:
Koivula, U-M; Ala-Uotila, E; Engblom, S; Heino, P; Jungerstam-Mulders, S; Koivumäki, A; Puurtinen, H-G;Salo, K; Sankelo, M: R&D Strategies and Actvities – Comparing Universities of Applied Sciences in Finland, the Netherlands, Belgium and Germany. ISBN 978-952-5281-37-8.

Pirkanmaa University of Applied Sciences
Principal Lecturer Ulla-Maija Koivula
Tel. +358 50 570 2471
TAMK University of Applied Sciences
Principal Lecturer Ari Koivumäki   Tel. +358 50 590 9312 

Feel free to use all news. Photographs copyright Kalle Heiska.
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