The universities of Lapland and Oulu stepped up their collaboration with their northwest Russian partners  in 2006 when university rectors met in Rovaniemi to discuss educational and research development. At the meeting, the universities founded the Barents Cross Border University (BCBU) network, through which the universities have organized collaborative activities, including common English-language master's programs.

In recent years, BCBU's rectors have met at an annual meeting to discuss the how northern Finnish and northwest Russian  universities can develop teaching and research cooperation and increase their involvement in the development of the whole Barents Region. In addition, the meetings have discussed how this university cooperation should be extended to cover the entire Barents Region.

On the agenda of this rectors' meeting in Rovaniemi was a network of self-evaluation and feedback from students about to graduate and the renewal of the cooperation agreement.

Rectors Lauri Lajunen and Mauri Ylä-Kotola state that, " During the meeting, it was noted that the expiring network agreement has created the basis for the current framework to create joint degree programs. The new agreement aims to incorporate other possible forms of cooperation, while the master's programs remain the heart of the network."

According to Lajunen and Ylä-Kotola, more focus will be given in the future to  quality assurance, and collaboration in research and doctoral training.

Comparative social work
One of the joint master's program is in comparative social work. The master's program has a strong basis in cooperation between the universities of Oulu and Lapland. Professor Tarja Orjasniemi states that "The benefits of cooperation are not limited to the Barents Region. For example, social work master's program graduates have the ability to work in international social sector jobs, and the Russian experience is a value in any given field. The international dimension gives more than it costs."

Facts: The Barents Cross Border University (BCBU)
The BCBU network consists of two Finnish and seven Russian universities: the University of Lapland, University of Oulu, Northern (Arctic) Federal University (Arkhangelsk), Northern State Medical University (Arkhangelsk), Murmansk State Humanities University, Murmansk State Technical University, Murmansk Humanities Institute, Petrozavodsk State University and the Karelian
State Pedagogical University. The network also has in the Luleå University of Technology (Sweden), University of Manitoba (Canada), Narvik University of Applied Sciences ( Norway,) and Syddansk Universitet (Denmark).

BCBU university collaboration implements a network of four international English-language Master's programs: Comparative Social Work, Barents Region Environmental Engineering, Health & Wellness in the Circumpolar Region, and Global Information Solutions. Comparative Social Work is coordinated by the University of Lapland and the others by the University of Oulu. The programs have started teaching in 2009 and 2010.

For more information:
University of Lapland, Rector Mauri Ylä-Kotola, tel 0400 276 288
Rector of the University of Oulu, Lauri Lajunen, tel 0400 581 472

University of Lapland / Communications