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Joint development days of the China Network at Laurea

The Sino-Finnish Joint Development Days brought parties from China and Finland together, in order to jointly build cooperation projects between two countries. Over 20 Chinese guests spent a day at each of the three universities of applied sciences belonging to the 3AMK consortium: Laurea, Metropolia, and Haaga-Helia. Each day's program was carefully designed with the guests' interests in mind.

The China Network of Universities of Applied Sciences is part of the Global Pilots programme of the Ministry of Education and Culture. With the help of the strategy grant, 20 Finnish universities of applied sciences are participating in the construction and development of the China network. The aim is to strengthen cooperation between Finnish universities of applied sciences and Chinese universities, which will also create a basis for commercial education business. In the context of the implementation of China's higher education reform, Finland's strengths lie in particular in responding to the needs of the labour market. 

In a day hosted by Laurea, presentations highlighted the Learning by Developing (LbD) model in practice, various forms of working life orientation, and the natural integration of restaurant services as part of the university. Tanja Johansson, Campus Director of Leppävaara, delivered Laurea's presentation. Pauliina Nurkka, Director responsible for learning, expertise, and student well-being, presented Laurea's unique development-based Learning by Developing (LbD) learning model, which sparked considerable interest among the audience. This pedagogical model, developed at Laurea 20 years ago, places students and learning in authentic work-life projects at its core. It is crucial that the curriculum aligns with the goals of both companies and students.

- The focus of LbD is on the development of competence so that the responsibility for learning lies with the student. When an individual learns, our entire community learns. Through this model, student motivation and commitment to studies increase, positively impacting the motivation of Laurea's teaching staff and the research, development, and innovation (RDI) work carried out at the university, Nurkka explained.

Development Director Teemu Ylikoski informed the guests about Laurea's societal impact. The central theme of the presentation was Laurea's learning model, which combines the needs of students and businesses. While students acquire work-life-oriented skills during their studies, companies benefit from students' fresh ideas and the latest knowledge they apply in their projects, resulting in socially impactful activities. Ylikoski highlighted the strong networks and skills of Laurea graduates. Approximately 96 percent of students are employed within a year of graduation.

Teemu Ylikoski

"Companies should engage in more collaboration with universities"

An example of successful collaboration with Laurea was provided by Matti Karvonen, CEO of Restaurant Factory. Factory is a family-owned company with 21 restaurants and 160 employees. Autumn 2023 was a turning point for the restaurant: it hired Nepalese students who had arrived at Laurea for internships as part of their hospitality management studies. The presence of Nepalese employees who already worked at the restaurant facilitated the internships and collaboration, helping the students integrate into the work community and acquainting them with the industry. Many of the interns continue to work at Factory alongside their studies.

- The culture of collaboration with Laurea helps us develop as a company. We aim to hire students who have completed internships with us. Companies should engage in more similar collaborations with universities, Karvonen stated.

Liu Yan from Hunan Chemical Industry Vocational Technology College conveyed greetings and discussed the institution's collaboration with local businesses. Essi Xiong, a lecturer at Oulu University of Applied Sciences, addressed RDI cooperation between China and Finland, focusing on supporting the elderly population. Tanyu Chen from Tampere University of Applied Sciences presented the benefits of entrepreneurship and innovation education to very young students, while Dr. Karl Wang from Guangzhou Huashang College discussed the benefits of artificial intelligence in Chinese vocational education. Dr. Xufeng Zhang talked about the collaboration between Peking Wuzi University in China and Jingdong Group, where they are building educational practices for industrial vocational schools.

In addition to the presentations, the visiting guests explored Laurea's Living Labs at the Leppävaara campus, including the Circular Economy Living Lab, Digital Living Lab, Event Living Lab, and Bar Lab. The day's catering, including dinner, was provided by the BarLaurea teaching restaurant.