|Erasmus Policy Statement|
Saimaa University of Applied Sciences is an institution offering education leading to a first and second cycle UAS degrees, Open University studies, continuing education and research and development services. Education is offered in five fields: technology, health care and social services, business administration, tourism and hospitality, and fine arts.
The strategic focus areas are based on the higher education institution’s strengths and interest groups’ needs: user-oriented technologies and their commercial applications, management and entrepreneurship, health and social services and service processes. Especially Saimaa UAS wants to emphasise its international dimension, specialising in Russian business, society, language and cultural skills because of its geographical situation.
Saimaa UAS acts as an active partner in the field of international higher education participating in student and staff mobility programs and joint research and development projects. This ensures the highest quality in mobility.
Main geographical areas for internationalization are Russia, EU countries; especially Germany, and China in Asian countries. A very strong focus is appointed to cooperation with Russian partners. This might be interesting to our European partners.
The partner net of Saimaa UAS is quite comprehensive but still evaluation of new partners is going on. This consists of survey of strategic areas of the institution, cooperation with the business sector in the region, possibilities to have cooperation with different faculties and level of research activities. The curricula of the partner are important to make the process of planning and recognition of studies abroad easier and more realistic.
The demand of health care and social services is increasing in Finland as well as in other countries. The yearly intake of students was increased lately which creates pressure to expand the network of European and other higher education institutions (later called HEIs). This also makes the pressure to organise more courses in English and closer cooperation with local companies and municipals.
The number of exchange students is agreed in bilateral agreements with the partner institutions. Students are selected by the sending institution. In all mobility Saimaa UAS follows the rules of the exchange program in question. Saimaa UAS was awarded the Diploma Supplement Label and acts according to these regulations.
For incoming mobility disabled students and staff can enter and move in the faculties easily. Also some staff members are trained to help disabled people. For outgoing disable mobility Saimaa UAS sees a partner which is able to receive a disable person.
In addition to quantitative objectives there are also qualitative aspects. Through the staff mobility teachers can expand their professional knowledge, become familiar with different cultures, meet with colleagues from different countries and this way create possibilities for joint research and development projects.
Saimaa UAS has many double degrees with the partner HEIs. To create a double degree Saimaa UAS and the partner must have a long experience of cooperation in many fields of operations. The programs are carefully evaluated and curricula must match well for both parties. Curricula are developed with the partner HEIs.
In near future Saimaa UAS will sign strategic partnerships with some partners from Russia, Germany and China. The main purpose is to have systematic, deep cooperation in different operations.
Saimaa UAS will increase its competence in Russian business, society, and language and culture. Aim is that Saimaa UAS will have functional strategic partnerships with chosen Russian HEIs and with companies and public administration in northwest Russia. Our plan is to establish international and multicultural active culture to be part of the Saimaa UAS routines, increase the number of double degrees and joint education with strategic partners, support internationalisation of small and medium-sized enterprises, and develop competitive adult education for companies.
Goals are to strengthen language and culture education to staff, offer education about international project knowledge to staff, tighten cooperation by student projects with globalising companies and companies serving international customers.
Most international cooperation projects in teaching and training have started and have been carried out as kick-off and implementation phases of stable and sustainable educational cooperation. Thus, these projects are often very integrated into the normal practice, and also administrated by teaching staff. The projects implemented under the Programme are more extensive and often include a pilot-scale practice. The cooperation implemented under the Programme is carried out with formal project-implementation, in which case it usually is supported by project management administration. The strategic point of view of the institute is that both ways of organizing international cooperation are necessary in order to develop wide and effective international relations.
One of the main targets of Finnish higher education development at the time is to increase the number of graduates compared to the number of students starting their higher education studies. As for implementation of the Program’s key policy issues, essential for our institute is to widely implement and develop further clear procedures for recognizing learning and experience gained outside formal education.
In order to improve the relevance and quality of the education, our institute is strongly emphasizing the importance of flexible and tight relations with working life organisations. This includes not just the key policy of following graduate employment data, but following also other initiatives from working life and considering those in course design, delivery and evaluation. Also, we put effort in developing flexible study modes for adult students who may work simultaneously.
The Program’s key policy issues concerning quality assurance through mobility and cross-border cooperation are all in the center of our institution’s strategies. Especially in English programs we build systematically larger international modules as part of curricula which enable two-way-mobility. The recognition of credits gained abroad is partly ensured beforehand. The Visa processes are well supported. One of the main development targets is to gain new processes for work placement for foreign students. This could be developed by separate projects.
As for improving governance and funding; we can do our best to work efficiently – from quality assurance point of view, as well as economical point of view and this way to support the government’s and Program’s initiatives of modernizations of higher education institutes.