We spent the day with Minna, Sari, Jukka, and briefly, Satu from the Lahti University of Applied Sciences (LAMK). They have an interesting and progressive concept underway to refine the education within their university to focus on creative, multi-disciplinary, student-led learning through application. In this model, the students direct the course and the facility facilitates to ensure the overall objectives are met. Along with this, they are repurposing a factory into a new campus which will be devoid of individual offices or traditional classrooms. Instead, the space will be open and flexible, allowing both students and staff to make use of shared spaces throughout the facility. We had the opportunity to tour the renovation site for this new campus.
They also spoke about the competition between universities and the way the higher education system is organized. Essentially, all admissions are handled by the state, which also denotes how many students may attend each university. Schools try to be attractive to top students in order to receive those with the highest academic potential. That turns into higher graduation rates which then solicits higher degrees of monetary support from the government.
As an interesting side note, Minna said all Finnish children start learning English at age 9 or 10 and start learning Swedish at age 13. Many continue to use English periodically in daily life and continue a conversational use of the language but most have little continued use of Swedish and that proficiency drops.
Lahti also claims an extensive winter sports program and will be hosting the Nordic World Ski Championships in 2017.