Education in West Finland
Finland has a well performing education system. Early school leaving rate has largely remained unchanged; 7.9 % in 2016 compared to the EU average of 10.7 % in 2016. In 2016, 46.1% of the age group 30 – 34 had attained tertiary education. The employment rate of recent tertiary graduates stands at 80.4% (EU Education and Training Monitor 2017).
Finland is currently reforming the education system to address increasing inequalities in education and new demands for education in the 21st century. The reform includes the new curriculum for the 21st century and the new comprehensive school and teacher development programme aiming to maintain the quality of the education system. The new curriculum applies to all education levels and aims to update learning to face the changed learning environment of the 21st century. The new teacher development programme focuses on upgrading teachers’ competences, while carrying out research on maintaining high-quality of teaching. Finland aims to continue to attract the best to become teachers.
Finland is also modernizing higher education, vocational education and training, and promoting adult learning. Higher education institutions are invited to become more productive and internationally-oriented. This is a significant priority for the institutions of higher education in West Finland. Our institutions are keen on participating in European projects and forming European partnerships. West Finland’s expertise in education focuses on teacher training, ICT, and digitalization. Our stakeholders have innovative experience in bringing digital technologies into the classrooms and training teachers to succeed in transforming learning environments.
Innovative higher education institutions
There are two universities, two university consortiums, and five universities of applied sciences in the region of West Finland:
Seinäjoki University of Applied Sciences has also developed innovative ways to promote university level education in a rural region with low education level and many SME’s, but with no university. University Association of South Ostrobothnia, Research Network Epanet and University Consortium of Seinäjoki work together to develop the region through the research and development network – South Ostrobothnian University Network Epanet. The concept of Epanet is based on forming research groups of high quality concerning the branches needed in South Ostrobothnia. The groups are led by fixed-term research professors. Each professor will gather a research group of 3–5 people (using a variety of financial resources). The four thematic research groups are: intelligent and energy efficient systems, sustainable food solutions, health and creativity, and entrepreneurship and business concepts.
The universities of applied sciences have a significant impact on the regional economy of West Finland. According to a study, the Seinäjoki University of Applied Sciences has had an impact of 170 million euros in the region of South Ostrobothnia. Seinäjoki University of Applied Sciences has also contributed to the regional tax revenue by 47 million euros, thus the universities of applied sciences have a key role in regional development.