Capacity building for excellence in Sino-Finnish educational cooperation

Professor Seppo Hölttä, University of Tampere

While facing a variety of opportunities and challenges, what should Chinese higher vocational education do? One of the keynote speakers at the National Seminar Day of Future Education Forum Tampere 2016 on April 11, Professor Seppo Hölttä, Founder of Chinese Education Research and Exchange Center (CEREC), University of Tampere (UTA), employed a real life case: Overseas Study Programme for University Leaders from Chinese Central and Western Regions, to illustrate how to build capacity for excellence in Sino-Finnish educational cooperation.

According to Professor Hölttä, capacity building in education refers to the development of relevant knowledge, human capacity for teaching, and administrative capacity for running the programs, as well as Institutionalizing knowledge into the form of curricula and programs. In addition, excellence refers to the premium academic quality and social quality which match the purpose of educational system / programs.

Overseas Study Programme for University Leaders from Chinese Central and Western Regions which is cooperated between National Academy of Education Administration (NAEA) in China and the University of Tampere, it is a training program for the leaders and administrators of Chinese universities integrated with the national university reform policy in China transforming over 600 traditional universities to universities of applied sciences. Professor Hölttä explained in this training program with details, how to develop the knowledge, human capacity for teaching, and administrative capacity for running the programs, and to institutionalize research based knowledge into the form of curriculum.

Building up the relevant knowledge base

It is mainly by the long-term research cooperation in comparative research on national higher education policies and system dynamics, and comparative study on Finnish and Chinese vocational and higher education models and policies among University of Tampere and its university partners, such as Beijing Normal University, Peking University, and Beijing University of Technology.

Development of human capacity for teaching

Through the doctoral training at UTA and main Chinese partner universities, joint master program with Beijing Normal University, student exchange and academic exchange, the teaching ability could be enhanced.

Development of administrative capacity for running the programs

The strong ability of managing the programs plays a vital role in the capacity building for excellence in Sino-Finnish educational cooperation. By the means of numerous visits among UTA and NAEA leaders, administrators and academics, and the broader exchange program by the funding of CIMO, partner HEIs and other funding sources, the administrative capacity for running programs can be developed.

Institutionalizing research based knowledge into the form of curriculum

With the participation of all research partners, based on the feedback and analysis from the pilot curriculum with NAEA in Kunming in autumn 2014, the first training program was conducted with great success in May 2015 in Tampere, Finland.

With this training cooperation, the Chinese participants and their universities are familiar with the Finnish higher education system and policy, the Finnish university of applied science model, and have better understanding of the social, economic and policy environments for universities of applied sciences, and direct institutional links and foundations for bilateral cooperation.

As for the Finnish universities and universities of applied sciences, they have better understanding of Chinese higher education system, institutional linkages to and cooperation with the Chinese local universities, and access to the Western and Central regions in cooperation, and can participate in the most extensive reform of an higher education system in the global history of higher education.

In the view of Professor Hölttä, the above capacity building in education requires strategic view, effective leadership, and long term systematic work (internally and with stakeholders).