LUT and the City of Lappeenranta to launch the first Junior University in Finland
Lappeenranta University of Technology (LUT) and the City of Lappeenranta are engaging all of the city's schools in cooperation under the LUT Junior University concept. The aim is to increase the appeal of mathematics and natural sciences among children and youth, and to teach them about sustainable development, the circular economy and renewable energy, and familiarise them with the world of business through e.g. field trips to different companies.
In the Junior University, all levels of education are brought together – from primary school to the academic level. Primary school students in Lappeenranta will also study in universities in the future. The Junior University programme will, for instance, enable phenomenon-based collaboration between children and LUT researchers, provide upper secondary school students the possibility to take university courses, and arrange events and courses for primary and secondary school students. The Junior University would not be a new school, but a form of increased collaboration between different education levels.
"The new, innovative operating model fits the new primary and secondary education curriculum perfectly. Making the education path from primary school to the university familiar to students from the beginning increases educational equality," says Mari Routti, Head of the General Education Division in Lappeenranta.
The need for a Junior University stems from the nation-wide lack of technological expertise. The number of applicants to technology studies is decreasing even though the demand for technology experts in the labour market is increasing. Fewer students take advanced mathematics in upper secondary school, which makes it more difficult for them to apply to academic technology studies. LUT plans to involve all of its schools in the Junior University project – even business.
"Finland needs high-level expertise in technology and business. However, it is too late to get students interested in mathematics and natural sciences in upper secondary school. We need to start collaboration at a much earlier stage. This enables getting their attention when they are applying to universities," says Janne Hokkanen, Director of LUT Student Services.
LUT is already collaborating with other education levels in e.g. the ABB laboratory project and the LUMA Centre. These activities will be an important part of the Junior University while other activities are developed and increased.
"We've set our sights high. The LUT Junior University is a way to attract more good students to the university. In addition, we genuinely want to invest in academic as well as primary and secondary education. No one in Finland has taken collaboration to the level we have," Hokkanen explains.
Janne Hokkanen, Director of LUT Student Services, email@example.com, +358 40 900 3617
Mari Routti, Head of General Education Division, Lappeenranta, firstname.lastname@example.org, +358 40 837 2646