Jussi Halttunen, rector of JAMK University of Applied Sciences

Turning expertise into competitiveness and Reinventing higher education

"In spring 2016, the JAMK University of Applied Sciences Academic Board approved the new strategy (2016–2020), whose two key themes are “Turning expertise into competitiveness” and “Reinventing higher education”."

As a mission statement, Turning expertise into competitiveness shares the sentiment of the slogan used by Nokia in its heyday, “Connecting People”, which is an apt slogan that contributed to the company’s huge success. In JAMK’s case, the mission statement refers to the competitiveness of both students and our customers. Diverse competence is a significant competitive asset for young JAMK graduates or adult students who have supplemented their degree. Such competence may also include an entrepreneurial attitude, sales skills or a profound understanding of customers. Close co-operation and dialogue between the university of applied sciences and its working life partners strengthens the competence on both sides and improves the employment of students after graduation. A key indicator of competitiveness is students finding their first job in their own professional field. In this sense, universities of applied sciences equip their students much better for employment than universities do.

Reinventing higher education is our strategic target, a vision of a digital institute of higher education for the future. In 1990, Professor Reijo Miettinen published his renowned book “Koulun muuttamisen mahdollisuudesta” (The Opportunity to Bring Change to School), in which he aptly analysed the development of teaching and the resulting conflicts in school communities. According to Miettinen, successful development always begins with learning and understanding the most natural way for the young people of the future to learn. If we try to reinvent higher education from the perspective and on the terms of future learning, we are on firmer ground than if we choose the most fashionable and popular teaching methods from the pedagogical mainstream. In other words, learning must come first in the wise development of education.

The key idea is the utilisation of digitalisation in teaching. This means things like new learning environments, next-generation virtual and online learning, 24/7 learning regardless of time and place as well as informal peer learning. These are also heavily emphasised in basic education and upper secondary schools. The young digital natives in these schools will soon be applying for higher education and might become frustrated if they had to give up their preferred ways of learning.

In order to ensure JAMK’s attractiveness and competitiveness in the student recruitment market, we must reinvent higher education at JAMK, taking determined steps and striving together.