Having a university and a university of applied sciences operate in close proximity to each other creates research that allows both to focus on their core competencies and create new knowledge and solutions.
Lappeenranta University of Technology and Saimaa University of Applied Sciences have operated on the same Skinnarila campus since 2011. Sharing the campus has had a surprisingly large impact on the operations of both institutions.
“We expected concrete benefits in the form of using fewer resources. We hoped the change would allow us to spend money on something more significant than walls,” says Anneli Pirttilä, Rector of Saimaa University of Applied Sciences.
“Beyond mere savings, the two schools have benefited from closer cooperation.”
The sought savings have indeed been achieved. In addition to making more economical use of space, the schools can now share resources, such as their shared library. The library serves both students and researchers more effectively than before, around the clock.
Projects that bring out the best in both
Beyond mere savings, the two schools have benefited from closer cooperation. They knew to expect this, but not to the extent that they have seen.
“The university engages in scientific research and the university of applied sciences engages in applied research in the same laboratories. We have obtained millions of euros in research project funding by combining the best expertise of both parties,” says Juha-Matti Saksa, Rector of Lappeenranta University of Technology.
The university’s research is supported by the experts of the university of applied sciences, who have been involved in the testing of technical innovations and the commercialisation of products such as high speed turbo generators and electric gear motors.
“Having people sit around the same tables for coffee, have random encounters and exchange ideas has an unexpectedly large effect,” Pirttilä explains.
Working together with no problems
The schools have also been surprised by the fact that there have been no problems in sharing the campus. Right from the start, both higher education institutions and the city have had a clear shared desire of creating a strong higher education hub in Lappeenranta.
“Of course, the process hasn’t always been easy. It has involved negotiations and compromises. However, we have found common ground on all issues,” Pirttilä says.
The concept was developed in cooperation with SYK and the process of joint development is still ongoing. For SYK, Lappeenranta was an important pilot project with an operating model that was customised to suit the project’s specific needs.
The rectors of the two schools are eager to recommend the shared campus approach to others.
“The question really is, do other universities and schools have more money than they can spend? And do they not want the functional benefits of a shared campus?” Saksa asks.