UNIC-panel discussion in SuomiAreena, Finnish “democracy festival”

UNIC CityLabs was part of SuomiAreena, an annual public debate forum in Finland organized by City of Pori and Finnish TV-channel MTV3.

Virtual Place

Streamed to the MTV.fi website (Finnish national television channel)


Start: 14.07.2021
End: 14.07.2021


The City of Oulu , Vuolle Setlementti ry , SuomiAreena

The University of Oulu gathered societal actors and members of the University community to discuss the potential of development and inclusion that membership in a European University (UNIC) brings to the city and region of Oulu.

The discussion included reflection on how Superdiversity affects human, economic and societal wellbeing and how a wealth of cultures bring value to the Northern city of Oulu. Panelists covered the key themes of UNIC: societal development and impact in the Post-Industrial era, inclusion and diversity in our cities as well as the changing role of universities as beacons of development and links to Europe.

The European University and its future were discussed in a popular political discourse event SuomiAreena in Helsinki, Finland on July 14. Some of the themes that arose were collaboration, digitalization, and the ability to retain residents in city of Oulu. On the panelists’ side, there were the Minister of European Affairs Tytti Tuppurainen, the Chairman of the City Board of Oulu Mirja Vehkaperä, the representative of Vuolle Setlementti organization Luz Peltoniemi, the Vice Rector of the University of Oulu Tapio Koivu, the Professor of global education Elina Lehtomäki, and student Eetu Leinonen.

Panel questions:

  • What does UNIC mean for the University of Oulu?
  • How is Oulu a part of the city and its citizens?
  • How do we include the citizens of Oulu (including new ones) to develop and build the city)?
  • The University of Oulu has initiated strategic cooperation with the City of Oulu. What does this mean in practice?
  • How do we consider geography in the development of the UNIC cities as they are not all central hubs in Europe? Is digitalization enough to bring UNIC together? What other post-industrial innovation, philosophy and attitudes do we need?
  • People are more mobile than ever, how can Oulu attract and keep new and current citizens? *It has been reported that a degree in higher education is still hereditary in Finland and tied to social class. How do we make sure that higher education is truly accessible and inclusive especially to those people and groups that have been excluded in the past?


  • Total participants: 9
  • Total students: 1
  • Total University Staff members: 4
  • Total representatives of societal stakeholder: 4

Main results of the discussion were:

  • The European University UNIC gives an opportunity to expand collaboration on an international level and to learn good practices from other universities and cities.
  • “Europe works as a window, through which we can see our strengths.”
  • Will digitalization be enough to bring people and universities together and build a post-industrial Europe?
  • Digitalization increases accessibility
  • Digitalization supports education, brings cost-effectiveness and economic benefit, and supports the goals of sustainable development, but won’t replace people
  • Digitalization has made it possible to get access to information regardless of one’s location
  • Physical mobility brings people closer together, mobility must be made possible as soon as it is safe
  • It is important to consider both the possibilities and limits of digitalization.
  • The future is not only about technology and not all research can be done virtually, because sometimes for example, research material needs to be collected on the spot.
  • The importance of informal meetings around a coffee table. These meetings deepen the understanding between people.
  • The discussion emphasized the collaboration between different actors as bringing people together in a city leads to the best ideas.
  • The goal of the cooperation is to recognize the strengths in innovation and research and invest in them.


UNIC CityLabs


Diversity and Inclusion | Urban resilience and transformation

Type of Case

Panel discussion



Organizing unic universities

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