Service design guiding the development of a new cooperation model for educational export purposes

The Finnish education system has been attracting attention around the world for some time. In city of Lappeenranta, a different step has been taken towards the development of teaching at different school levels in the form of university cooperation. In her Master’s thesis for LUT University, Aino-Maria Hakamäki studied the cooperation between LUT University and the City of Lappeenranta, while finding the possibilities for a new export service model.

In the Master’s thesis “Service design of a cooperation model towards education export”, the development of service design and the possibilities as part of education design were first explored by the means of a literature review. Today, education export typically focuses on collaboration between universities, but the model implemented in Lappeenranta would begin the export of university education to primary education. Uniori (Lappeenranta Junior University) is a model which have been piloted and implemented in Lappeenranta in a very successful way. Uniori has received both national and international attention, as it has won the International Green Gown Award from the category of Creating Impact in 2021, and LUT Junior University won the International Sustainable Campus Network award in 2020 for the LUT’s contribution to Uniori activities.

Uniori is a cooperation model implemented by the City of Lappeenranta in close collaboration with LUT University. Uniori builds an equal path for children to higher education, from as early stages as preschool all the way through primary education and upper secondary school. Children and young people will familiarize themselves with a variety of sustainable development themes as well as entrepreneurship and future technological opportunities. Uniori’s activities have been included in the local supplementary curriculum, which guarantees equal opportunities for every child in Lappeenranta to participate in the activities. In this way, the teacher’s or the parent’s enthusiasm and background does not guide participation in the activities, which strengthens children’s attitudes towards the themes of Uniori more evenly. Uniori collaboration is also supported by local companies, for example in the field of real estate and waste management.

Based on Uniori’s operations, Aino-Maria developed a modular model and recommendations for its implementation as an export service. The model focuses on the themes of sustainable development and emphasizes the inspiration for lifelong learning and the growth of new skills from early stages. The development of the model was mainly based on the current activities of Uniori and the interviews conducted in the study. For the thesis, preschool and primary school teachers and principals, city employees, and university staff were interviewed.

The new export service is designed to be offered as a consultative module package to a customer, for example, a local city, a private primary school or even a small state, depending on the education system of the destination country. The customer would seek a local university partner and develop a cooperation network with the local companies.

Aino-Maria Hakamäki’s Master thesis is available HERE.

The thesis was supervised by Post-doctoral researcher Nina Tura and Professor Ville Ojanen from Lappeenranta-Lahti University of Technology (LUT University).