Transforming Universities

The third mission of a university is a strategic process of transforming the university into an open interactive system externally and internally, to make it a strategic forerunner of creating and applying new relevant knowledge in the society.

We regard this transformation as fundamental for developing both the brand value of a university, and securing its independence. Excellent scientific research is still essential but the whole university ecosystem requires recognized societal value. Societies are also re-defining their own role and universities must adjust to these constraints. It will be a difficult challenge to balance the need to carry out long-term research, education and development under increasingly short-term financial conditions.

  • Interactivity, embeddedness
  • Deep, cross-disciplinary research cooperation and mutual interests between sciences
  • Intense interaction with universities and businesses
  • Key role of education in creation and execution of innovation potential
  • A new key dimension is effectiveness in generation and developing enterprise and innovation in knowledge-intensive entrepreneurship.

It would initially seem that the third mission threatens the integrity of science. However, we strongly argue that the value of an interactive and open approach is clearly positive. The new framework of generating, distributing, accessing and applying knowledge more openly and more dynamically offers dramatically renewed possibilities for universities when taken constructively. We understand the third mission as an extension of the traditional science-based university, one that binds the university in deeper and more functional ties to its host community.

We are aware of recent developments in the area, such as the developing self-assessment tool offered by the EU Commission that is based on the prior OECD work and definition of the 3rd mission. A self-assessment tool is obviously a first step in the right direction, and we will build on this and have integrated it to our process. However, an external partner that sits outside the often very compartmentalised and sometimes political organisation is able to take things further in identifying paths forward and the choices and parameters involved and available. As in the tool, we also place emphasis on identifying new opportunities rather than presenting problems.

Strategy is generally defined as being aware of the current situation, forming a vision of the desired situation, and crafting a plan to bring this about. Our audit provides the first part, the context for the second, and some points for the third.

We are currently setting up pilot audits involving groups of universities.

An audit takes approximately two to three months, involves key faculty members, students, surrounding society – businesses, public and third sectors. We conduct workshops, interviews, surveys and a debrief, findings and recommendations session; review existing material and strategies; provide insights and inspiration; conduct analysis and produce a written report containing the findings and recommendations.

Professor Emeritus Antti Paasio

Professor Dylan Jones-Evans, OBE

Professor Toni Kauppila

Jussi Paasio, CEO, 2nd Opinion