Spring Forum for Higher Education International Affairs in Seinäjoki addressed the current state and future outlook of internationalisation

Education and qualifications Higher education Erasmus+ for higher education Internationalisation Education development
The 2024 Spring Forum took place in sunny South Ostrobothnia, on the campus of Seinäjoki University of Applied Sciences. The event brought together over 400 colleagues and stakeholders involved in higher education internationalisation from across Finland.
Event participants enjoying the sun outdoors.

The regional perspective and local emphasis were strongly featured in the event's various speeches. It was evident to participants that internationalisation is promoted in Seinäjoki with great passion and a human-centered approach.

Erkki Välimäki, the city's Director of Vitality, highlighted in his memorable and smile-inducing dinner speech that the internationalisation of higher education institutions also translates to the internationalisation of cities and municipalities.

Välimäki stressed the significance of internationalisation for regional vitality, adding that this is also well recognised in Seinäjoki.

The local touch of the Spring Forum was further exemplified by a group of multinational student assistants who guided and helped the audience throughout the event. Their contributions were praised by participants and added a personal dimension to discussions about international talent.

Focus on responsibility, ethics, and equality

The sessions and roundtable discussions underscored the importance of responsibility, ethics, and safety in the international operations of higher education institutions. Participants reflected on how to embed these principles into the strategies and practices of HEIs.

Workshops also addressed the provision of internationalisation opportunities equitably for all students. Internationalisation should be integrated into the student's study path from the beginning, with suitable opportunities readily available to meet the student's needs.

The audience participates in a session in the lecture hall.
Spring Forum's dozens of sessions attracted an attentive audience.

The closing session brought forward necessary insights on involving international talent in the discussion. Higher education institutions can serve as crucial elements in regional development and building international ties, yet all perspectives are necessary to avoid solutions being restricted to internal dialogue.

Dialogue resumes at the 2025 Spring Forum in Helsinki

"At present, we need wider societal discussion on the significance of internationalisation. The demand for international experts is high, and Finland can only thrive by being international", stated Maija Airas, Head of Unit at the Finnish National Agency for Education, in her opening speech.

The discussion will continue at the Spring Forum next year, to be held in Helsinki from 12th to 14th May 2025. The theme for 2025 is 'Builders of the Future: Internationalisation as a Catalyst for Change.'

Whereas this year internationalisation was still behind a question mark, next year's theme boldly looks forward to an international Finland's future. What are the factors we need to harness this catalyst for change and secure Finland's success? How can we make the most of our international experts' potential?

These questions will be addressed at next year's event. See you there!