by RItva Laakso-Manninen and Lauri Tuomi


The effects of the corona pandemic will be formidable. According to the Bank of Finland's forecast ( )the economic recovery will take years.

In this situation, higher education institutions have the opportunity to make a significant contribution to economic growth and the creation of new businesses.

 In Finland, in the recession of the early 1990s, universities of applied sciences (UAS) were established because a new kind of work-related higher education was needed to respond to the changing needs of business. According to OECD evaluations, the Finnish UAS system has been a success.

Higher education institutions have a number of roles that can contribute to economic recovery. First, companies need new kinds of expertise. Old skills do not make new products and services. The contents of UAS degrees are constantly modified and the needs of companies can be met quickly when there is a need. Graduates have had good digital competences already before, but now they are even better given that studies take place entirely in the digital world.

Second, the UAS offers plenty of opportunities for lifelong learning. Renewing the skills of people in working life is possible via the flexible provision of open learning in higher education. Cooperation with companies can also be used to tailor training to larger groups.

 Third, companies need agile partners when innovating in response to economic challenges. Higher education institutions can contribute their RDI for the development of corporate operating models, products and services even at a rapid pace. The startup activities of higher education institutions support the founding of new companies in a changed marketplace.

Lastly, while international activities and travel continue to take place in exceptional circumstances, we cannot remain operating within national borders alone. Economies depend on international cooperation and both exports and imports are essential. Higher education institutions play an important role in creating the foundations for internationalization and can act as a partner, especially for SMEs, in the development of international activities.

Read more about the best practices of higher education institutions in our new book at



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