HAAGA-HELIA’s roots: in entrepreneurship, working life needs, leadership and private educational institutes
Privata Handelsläröverket i Helsingfors was founded to meet the needs of businesses
Our first precursor was founded to meet the needs of companies in the city of Helsinki, which had grown rapidly in the 19th century. These businesses felt that the right kind of education was not being offered in the city to meet their needs. And so it transpired that in 1881 an educator named Otto Lindholm founded the business school Privata Handelsläröverket i Helsingfors. A holding company was established in 1909 to safeguard the school’s operations, with the result that some of city’s most prominent businessmen becoming shareholders – Viktor Ek, Karl Sinebrychoff, Karl Stockmann and Karl Fazer.
A growing need for business in the Finnish language – Helsinki Business College is founded
Many of Finland’s major conglomerates were founded towards the end of the 1800s, for example Pohjola, Suomi and Otava, following which it became clear that there was a need for providing business education also in the Finnish language. A group of distinguished businessmen and members of the cultural elite, including professor Palmen, doctor Prander and merchant Lallukka, deemed that it was time to establish “a most perfect Finnish business school”. In 1898, Helsinki Business College started its operations right in the heart of Helsinki on the corner of Aleksanterinkatu and Mikonkatu. Soon thereafter, in 1904, the first business students enrolled in classes in teacher education.
Education for girls opened with Porvoo women’s college
At the turn of the century girls had few opportunities to pursue an education. This was exemplified in the fact that girls had to “apply for special consideration due to their gender” in order to be admitted to an educational institute. Things started to improve when Edith Bergholm, a brave woman from Porvoo, brought her dream to life by founding “a new women’s college of a higher level.” Classes were taught in Finnish and Swedish.
Sport Institute of Finland promotes health and working ability among the population
During the early years of Finland’s independence, sports education was emphasised from the defence and nation building points of view. These factors were also in the background when Lauri “Tahko” Pihkala proposed the founding of the Sport Institute of Finland in 1916. He envisioned that the new institute’s key priorities would be teacher education and sports programmes for youth. Supporters of the cause founded a holding company for the institute in 1927, with the Finnish Central Sports Federation becoming the major shareholder. Ownership was handed over to individual sports associations in the 1990s, the biggest of which is the Finnish Ice Hockey Foundation, as well as to the insurance companies Kaleva and Suomi. Through their ownership the owners indicate their desire to promote health and working ability among the population.
Meeting the needs of industry – Lower secondary level business schooling and Malmi Business College are founded
The needs of industry are also visible in our roots. Industrialist K.A. Weisten founded the vocational school Tehtaitten Koulu in 1944 to provide the kind of education needed by industry. The initial shareholders were 22 factories, businesses and businessmen from the Helsinki districts of Malmi, Tapanila, Pukinmäki and Puistola. The new school took in its first students in September 1945 with the purpose to “enable young people with a lower secondary level education to serve the needs of society”. In other words, the founding companies wanted to hire graduates of a vocational school in business. Malmi Business College was founded on September 1st, 1957 by companies including Weiste, Elanto and Malmi bookstore.
Business expands in Porvoo – colleges in business and travel are founded in the city
As business prospered in the city of Porvoo in the 1950s, it soon became apparent that business education would also be needed in the region. It was Rhea Hellberg of the famous Porvoo business family who brought together a group of entrepreneurs in the region to found a business school in the city in 1958. Right from the start the school provided education in both Finnish and Swedish. As women became more liberated in the 1970s there was no longer a need to have a separate school for women in Porvoo, and so the women’s college was closed. New challenges were met with the founding of a school providing travel education.
Increasing demand for office workers by the private and public sector – birth of Helsinki Secretarial College
The mid-1960s saw a flood of secondary school graduates, which led to the need to establish new forms of vocational education. The Finnish Cultural Foundation and the Family Federation started planning for the founding of this kind of education, which would effectively meet the needs of business life. The project, headed by L.A. Puntila, led to the founding in Helsinki of a vocational college providing secretarial education to serve the needs of the private and public sector. The aim was that the experiences gained from this model school could be applied in the founding of other schools in the future.
Hospitality sector expands – Hotel and Restaurant College is born
The Great Depression and post-war rationing contributed to intolerant attitudes towards alcohol, which started softening in the 1960s with the growth of the hospitality sector. The shortage of labour, especially supervisors, was felt to be problematic. The Hotel and Restaurant College Foundation, with Arvid Ohlsson as its Chairman, was founded in 1964. The founding parties included the Finnish Hotel and Restaurant Association as well as the companies Alkoholiliike and Matkaravinto. The Hotel and Restaurant College started operations in 1969, introducing international management trends to Finland.
Computers start to make their mark - college specialised in data processing is founded
Computers were introduced in the 1960s in large corporations such as banks, insurance companies, industrial conglomerates and wholesalers, as well as in public sector administration. These organisations turned to the Finnish Data Processing Association in view of pressuring the authorities to promote data processing education and establish a specialised college for this purpose. At first training was given only for companies and it was only in 1972 that the government gave the green light for a specialised college. The primus motors of this undertaking were Otto Karttunen, Eero Kostamo, Esa Hovinen and Heikki Varho.
Vocational higher education begins – Haaga Institute and Helsinki Business Polytechnic
The pooling together of the nine educational institutes introduced above started with two big mergers, namely the founding of Haaga Institute in 1991 and the founding of Helsinki Business Polytechnic in 1992. Once again, the aim was to accommodate the changes that had taken place in working life and to provide vocational education of the highest calibre.
HAAGA-HELIA University of Applied Sciences founded
The precursor organisations were finally brought together under a single organisation with the launch of HAAGA-HELIA University of Applied Sciences at the start of 2007.
HAAGA-HELIA’s roots are firmly embedded in meeting the needs of working life, the need for specialised business expertise, focus on practice and the desire to be at the forefront – a benchmark for other educational institutes to follow. These roots remain at the heart of HAAGA-HELIA’s vision, mission and values.
HAAGA-HELIA educates experts in sales, service and entrepreneurship. Our RDI activities focus on innovative products, services and business operations for the benefit of business and society.
HAAGA-HELIA is a leading and internationally growing university of applied sciences, offering superior services for the success of students, businesses and workplace communities.
We work as a leading team for regeneration – promoting the success of responsible business.
Our operations are sustainable and profitable.