Posts in the News category



In October, we packed ourselves into TAMK cars and drove together to Helvetinjärvi National park, in Ruovesi. The drive took us about an hour and we navigated easily to our destination 😀 The plan was to hike the 11km trail from Haukanhieta to Helvetinkolu.

The weather was great: sunny and not too cold!




We were 14 people, ten international students and four mentors. We saw green woods, swamps and small lakes on the way. The trail went up and down hills, along stairs and duckboards.







When we got to Helvetinkolu after hiking a few hours, we unpacked our lunches and started cooking on the camp fire. We had sausages, hot chocolate, tea, coffee, chocolate bananas, stick bread and lots and lots of marshmallows.




To start our way back, we climbed up the Helvetinkolu Gorge. The rocks were slippery, but everyone got up safely and had a lot of fun.







The view down to the Lake Iso Helvetinjärvi was beautiful from the cliffs.




The hike back was even faster than in the morning, and we got back to the cars exhausted, but happy.


Text: Mira Piilemä and Elina Mäenpää

Photos: Sophie Montigny, Andreia Rodrigues, Hegi Rezhda and Vesa-Pekka Tuomaala


Teambuilding activities

Teambuilding activities


Design Thinking Workshop by Aurelija Ganusauskaitė

Design Thinking Workshop by Aurelija Ganusauskaitė


In fall 2016 we spent one week in Kaunas, Lithuania. The coordinator of the Nordplus Nordic and Baltic Business Innovation Network and the intensive course “Customized product/service innovation & marketing through traditional, digital and social media”, Senior Lecturer in Marketing Pirkko Varis from Tampere University of Applied Sciences (TAMK), Finland together with Monika Didžgalvytė and Aurelija Ganusauskaitė from Vytautas Magnus University, Faculty of Economics and Management, organized for us the programme. Loreta Petrauskaitė and Mindaugas Šerpytis coordinated the teambuilding activities and assisted in other tasks.


Teambuilding activities

Teambuilding activities


Altogether 30 students and 8 staff members from Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Norway and Lithuania joined the intensive course. From TAMK, Finland students Heli Hekkanen, Hannele Keto, Jenni Kohtamäki, Ella Ora, Jane Nurmala, Anna Jaakkola, Pauliina Suojärvi and Mikael Lagerbohm took part in the Nordic & Baltic week.


Country presentation Finland

Country presentation Finland


Country presentation Norway

Country presentation Norway


On weekend we had some teambuilding activities and we could get acquainted with each other and spend some time together. In our working teams of students with different educational and international backgrounds we visited some famous places in Kaunas, did some photo/video tasks and created a photo story to present the tour in Kaunas city.  We also had presentations of all the countries, cities, universities and study programmes taking part in the course.


Christian Hammerich, Anneliis Tomingas, Kristo Krumm, Liisa Heinonen and Pirkko Varis following country presentations together with some students

Christian Hammerich, Anneliis Tomingas, Kristo Krumm, Liisa Heinonen and Pirkko Varis following country presentations together with some students


On Monday we were given the assignment from a Lithuanian company “Kavos Draugas” to work on conceptualizing  persona and on generating marketing communications plan.  It took us into the world of coffee. The company sells coffee machines mostly in Lithuania and other Baltic countries and in Finland, too.  We also had a workshop on Design Thinking by Aurelija Ganusauskaitė. In the afternoon we worked in teams discussing the challenges and analyzing the market and the clients. We did a thorough research and found out details to support our choices. To help us get a better understanding of why the company differentiated itself from the common retailer, all participants went idea generating at different coffee shops around the city.


Coffee tasting

Coffee tasting


Coffee tasting

Coffee tasting


On Tuesday and Wednesday we worked in our teams with the assignment.  We also went to an exquisite coffee tasting in Vero Café House. We did visualization of the persona and created a marketing communications plan including online marketing and social media. We finalized our work and also delivered our reports by the deadline.


Team presentation

Team presentation


Ignas Dombrauskis from the company

Ignas Dombrauskis from the company


On Thursday our presentations took place. Many different target groups and communication plans were presented, and a winner was chosen between the five teams. All teams did great work. The winning team members were Simon Barman-Jenssen, Kristine Green, Janne Disko, Anna Jaakkola, Pauliina Suojärvi, Monika Lisauskaitė and Morten Tanne.  On Thursday evening we had a closing ceremony and dinner. We congratulated the winners and thanked the organisers and all participants and spent the evening together. On Friday we left Kaunas with a lot of nice memories.


The coordinator Pirkko Varis happy with the results of the teams

The coordinator Pirkko Varis happy with the results of the teams


In the following some students share their experiences and thoughts of the intensive course and time in Lithuania.


Simon Barman-Jenssen from UiT The Arctic University of Norway, School of Business and Economics, Tromsø, Norway


Getting this opportunity to work with so many talented people was an experience I won’t forget in the foreseeable future. I’ve met and worked with people I’d love to work with again, and I’ve made friends that I know I’ll be seeing a lot of in the years to come. A big applause to our hosts in Kaunas. I thank you for letting me take part in this great project!

Winning team presentation by Simon Barman-Jenssen and Kristine Green

Winning team presentation by Simon Barman-Jenssen and Kristine Green


Students from the University of Southern Denmark, Faculty of Engineering, Odense, Denmark

written by Sidsel Dahl Knudsen

Six 3rd semester students from PDI together with PDI’s project coordinator Christian Hammerich spent a week in Lithuania developing their PDI skills in an international business week, while working on a case. The Nordic Baltic Business Week is an opportunity for 3rd semester PDI students to go out and use our new learned innovative project management and business skills. The week provides an international environment where both creative learning and fun is important.

For a student at PDI, all six participants agree that this business week allow us, as students, to take on a project leader role and use the skills we have gained so far to understand a job fast and gain an impression of the different competences available in a team. It is clear that we as PDI’s can take on different roles and create good internal as well as external team communication. One week can mean a large amount of personal development – if you are open and motivated. So as a call for the 1st semester PDI’s take some changes and do participate in an international project when your chance is there.

Country presentation Denmark

Country presentation Denmark


Students from Tallinn College of Tallinn University of Technology, Business, Estonia

Janne Disko

Participating in this project for me was really interesting, since it was the first international project for me. What made it more interesting was that we were working for a small local business and we worked in international teams. We all had different ideas and backgrounds, therefore our final project came out even better than we expected!

Karin Märjamaa

Work hard, play hard – a week when intensive work mingles with fun!

International diversity is not an obstacle but a joy and an opportunity for self-development!

Heelia Sillamaa

I really loved participating in the Nordic and Baltic business week. I had a great team to work with and it was really interesting and useful for the future to work in a fully international group. It was interesting to see how students from different countries have different lifestyles and perspective to life and it was a challenge to combine all these different opinions for a mutual understanding and outcome. Finally we were able to do it successfully and we were all really proud of the work we did as one team. Also really important part of the experience for me was the free time, mainly because then we had the opportunity to discuss about all the topics that are close to our hearts and it was really nice to see that it doesn`t matter where you come from, we are all still the same. It was fun to get new friends from all over the Europe. I truly enjoyed my time in Kaunas and I would love to take part in this kind of a project again in the future.


Country presentation Estonia

Country presentation Estonia




Students from Denmark, Estonia and Norway



Monika Didžgalvytė & Jonas Petronis, Vytautas Magnus University, Lithuania

Anneliis Tomingas, Tallinn College of Tallinn University of Technology, Business, Estonia

Pirkko Varis, Tampere University of Applied Sciences, Finland 


The following institutions are members of the Nordplus Nordic and Baltic Business Innovation Network:

Tampere University of Applied Sciences (TAMK), Business, Finland

The University of Southern Denmark, Faculty of Engineering, Odense, Denmark

Tallinn College of Tallinn University of Technology, Business, Estonia

UiT The Arctic University of Norway, School of Business and Economics, Tromsø, Norway

Vytautas Magnus University, Faculty of Economics and Management, Kaunas, Lithuania


Boring lectures held in huge auditoriums where everyone is checking their mobile phones and planning the great escape? Forget about that. Experiential learning or learning by doing is the way forward in education. And TAMK’s Proakatemia, a student-orientated environment, masters the concept pretty well through its nonconventional teaching and learning approaches. The student is the one to discover the theoretical part and hands-on teamwork, how to combine the two and how to balance them. Nonetheless, he is not alone in this adventurous journey. A team of fellow students and an experienced coach is the best type of assistance he will ever need.

Tanja Verho is one of Proakatemia’s coaches whose vision is to develop future entrepreneurs and really good workers. To inspire her team of students to find their motivation and drive in achieving their goals. To find their own path in life. She does that by asking lots of questions which are not always comfortable. Those questions though, invite to self-evaluation. And it is well-known that self-evaluation leads to lasting change.


Tanja, please introduce me to the coaching and learning approaches used in Proakatemia.

At Proakatemia, we have a four-hour training session with our team twice a week. There is a specific theme for each session and we prefer that people don’t use their mobile phones, nor laptops during that time. We are learning by dialogue. We discuss projects, business models and organizations, leadership and teamwork.  Students read a lot of professional books about marketing and communications, leadership and management along with economical and financial aspects. Later on, they have to write essays on some of the models and techniques they found interesting and want to test on their own companies. If it works, then that’s great. If it doesn’t, they still learned something new.

They can also attend seminars and webinars, listen to TED talks and read academic articles. The main way though, is through project work. Doing projects for their own companies with real customers who pay them.

We recently had a training session about product conceptualization, their own company products and services and since my background is in service design and design thinking, I gave them some insights in a five-minute speech. No longer than that. This is a different kind of learning and studying style because the coach’s role is not to give out theory and prepare the training session, but to assist the students in revealing the answers to their questions.

When is the right time for the coach to step in?

Students have to learn to be patient and to listen so they can prevent their first reactions from igniting into them. When they feel stuck, then it’s my time to ask questions. “Why do you think this is going this way?”, “What scares you?”, “What would be the best way to move forward and solve this issue?” and so on.

Most of the time, we already have the answers but we are scared and unsure about ourselves and how to further proceed. When students discover the answers by themselves, it’s more motivating and empowering, rather than me providing them.

That’s a great way to learn but I’m certain it brings up some challenges too. Which are the main ones?

I personally see challenges as possibilities to learn. Of course, there has to be chemistry in a team. Realizing you don’t like someone who’s part of your team should give you a place to reflect upon your own attitude and how to deal with it. As coaches, we are supporting them in solving those kind of issues and talk about what bothers them. One of our roles is to challenge everyone in the team to work together. Problems usually occur when there’s a lack of communication.

Chemistry is one thing and there are lazy people every now and then. If they don’t show up to our mandatory sessions and they are not actively involved in projects and teamwork, we question their motifs. When motivation is an issue, those people are in the wrong place. It’s not easy for them to admit that because they feel like giving up. However, there is a sense of relief that comes with that realization and knowing that you can do something different elsewhere.

Selling is another challenge for most people. When you’re talking about companies and entrepreneurship, you need to sell your products and services. Money talk and selling your own skills and expertise are difficulties to Finnish people. Nowadays, it’s much easier to do that because we have the knowledge for it and atmosphere in Finland has changed in the past years. Students coming to Proakatemia are open-minded and have the desire to improve and change their mindsets.

Is your team involved in any interesting projects nowadays? Any particular achievements you’re proud of?

There are sixteen students in my team of which two are doing a three-month exchange. Some members of my team are involved in a sports and business conference taking place next year, in January. Others are producing advertising videos for companies (Alma Media, for example) and writing articles for different events too. They participate in volunteer projects for the community when needed.

Some of the recent past projects included three cafeterias opened in the Tampere area and the whole team was working there. It was their own project and altogether, the turnover was between 60,000€ and 70,000€. Which is not bad, considering they are still student entrepreneurs.

You graduated from Proakatemia ten years ago and now you’re back in a different role. What made you return? 

When I look back, I’ve always been the teacher type. I like interacting with people and I think everyone is a learner. I ask the right questions and help people figure out the answers by themselves. Something magical happens when a person is able to learn and change her attitude for the best. That’s huge for me.

I remember Proakatemia as a fascinating place during my studies. I was a junior coach at the time. After graduation, I did marketing, service design and even established a sign language translating service, where I learned a lot about human behavior and what motivates people to do certain things. But my dream was always to return to Proakatemia when I’ll have something to give back.

Now I have the experience I can relate to and share it with my students. As a coach, I’m happy if my students found their direction in life and know where they’re heading to after graduation. I think they have succeeded. They are building their characters and we are supporting them. I believe that every coach in Proakatemia shares the same vision.

Most educational institutions are struggling to keep a track of their graduates. How do you know if your students have succeeded or not after they left Proakatemia?

We still have meetings after they graduate to see what they’re doing. If someone feels lost, we can have a development discussion and help him regain direction and focus.

Proakatemia is built on trust. That’s one of the most important values we have here. In the first year, a student learns about teamwork and has to trust its colleagues, co-owners and coach. I know all of my sixteen students. They’re all different and some of them share things about their personal lives with me. They know they can talk to me about anything. It’s all about trust and knowing that someone cares about you and is there to support you.

Is that a realistic and achievable goal within a larger group?

I think it can work if you divide the group into smaller pieces and establish relationships based on trust.

You’ve been an entrepreneur for more than ten years now. Is there such thing as a recipe of a successful entrepreneur?

It has a lot to do with failures. You have to learn about them and have the courage to make mistakes. If you ask me about my failures, I can’t even remember them. I made so many. I always reflect upon them afterwards because the second time is always coming and I have to be prepared.

If you have the courage and the attitude to trust the entire process of entrepreneurship, you’ll find your way and be successful.

When I look at our students, they are doing things. Of course, they are thinkers also, but overall a good combination of doers and thinkers. You need them both.


Text: Andruta Ilie

Photo: Harri Hinkka


Professor Antonio Roberto de Oliveira has returned to Finland for his second visit this year. This time though, he is not alone. Antonio and six of his students embarked on an innovative journey of discovering new methodologies, learning techniques and entrepreneurship with the aim of changing the traditional system back in their home country, Brazil. On the last leg of their trip, they stopped at TAMK’s Proakatemia to learn more about teamwork and young leadership.

Antonio, where did your second trip to Finland start and when did you arrive to Tampere?

My journey started a week ago, in Helsinki, where we had a workshop on service design and visited a few innovative consultancies.  After that, we went to Tallinn for one day and since Monday, we’ve been in Tampere.

What have you been doing in Tampere?

We visited Mediapolis, New Factory, Futurice , Suomen Luonnonkosmetiikan Osuustukku and Suomen Lasinjalostus during our first two days here. We were impressed by the last company and their great idea of transforming used glass in reusable products. I think that’s an inspiring project. On our last day in Finland, we decided to visit Proakatemia.

What are your impressions so far?

In the morning, there was a one-hour workshop on friend leadership and now we’re taking part in an innovative challenge coming from Suomen Luonnonkosmetiikan Osuustukku, a Finnish company specialized in organic cosmetics. The theme is how to sell organic cosmetic products via Internet. Two of my students, Marcos and his wife, Sheila own a cosmetics company called Medicatriz so they know a lot about the market, customer behavior and touchpoints. Altogether with the rest of the group and Proaketemia students, they have been divided into three teams working together on new ideas. I was amazed to see that Proakatemia students, even though they are younger than my students, are already thinking ahead. They are really nice and engaged people, know what they want and are prepared for the market. The level of discussions in here is high and that’s one the most important things about this place.

Last time we talked, you told me how you wanted to change the traditional system back in your home institution, Rio Branco. Is that still one of your goals?

Yes, it is. In Brazil, the competition is high and we’re not used to work together. When people start learning and going to schools, they’re used with following a traditional system. Nowadays, we’re trying to change their mindsets by working in teams and adding entrepreneurship to all study fields. I know that anyone has the power to be innovative. They just have to push themselves and work as entrepreneurs if they want to create a social impact.

How is this change affecting the way the teacher is perceived?

The teacher is going to be facilitating the process of learning by stepping off of the stage. As a result, students will show more enthusiasm and have more power. To think by themselves and to work in teams. As a teacher, my purpose is to change mindsets with the use of different methodologies. I believe I have the power to do that and show my students the best way to redesign their lives.

Have you got a motto in life?

My motto is “Different to make a difference!”.





In the first three photos: Antonio’s students working in teams with Proakatemia students





In the last two photos: Professor Antonio Roberto de Oliveira, Coordinator of the Master in Branding Innovation at Rio Branco College in Brazil and Virpi Heinonen, Customer Relationship Manager (Global Education at Tampere University of Applied Sciences)

Text & photos: Andruta Ilie

Read about Antonio’s first visit to Finland:

Collaboration is the new key word in education

TAMK Ambassadors come from various degree programmes and national backgrounds, allowing them to showcase the TAMK student experience from many different viewpoints and create a truly international experience for visitors.

Let's start with introducing you to Tengfei Liu, an exchange student from China who studies Paper Technology at Tampere University of Applied Sciences. Here's how Tengfei describes himself:
"I am an outgoing person, fond of getting to make new friends. I really like TAMK and appreciate this great chance to be an ambassador of TAMK. Let me show you around and introduce you to our amazing TAMK. Are you ready?"



From China also comes Dandan Hou, another one of our exchange students. She really enjoys her stay in Finland and the beautiful nature here. 
"Hi! I'm Dandan Hou and I study Chemical and Process Engineering at TAMK. I really enjoy my stay in Finland. I love forests and nature. I like hiking, running and sleeping. Sometimes I go hiking in the forest with my friends. I really enjoy it. But I have never been to the forest alone, because it’s easy for me to get lost."



Our next ambassador is Qinning Wan and he's also an exchange student from China. Qinning has a background in Applied Chemistry back in his home university and he chose to study Paper Technology with us. You could say Qinning has succeeded in adopting a Finnish lifestyle, given his hobbies: 
"I like playing musical instruments and watching drums TV in my spare time. Besides, swimming is also one of my habits, which is a really exciting workout for keeping fit. I am pretty interested to be a TAMK ambassador and introduce specific information about TAMK to those who need it."


We'll stick for a bit to the biggest continent in this world, but this time with a different country, Vietnam. Linh Nguyen is doing her degree in Energy and Environmental Engineering and she is on a mission:
"I am a 19-year-old cute Vietnamese girl. I love forests, animals and TAMK! TAMK is my sweet home. I want to tell everyone about its beauty! Let's 'TAMK' together!"


Yen Bui comes from Vietnam as well and she is an International Business Tutor Student. She describes herself as a catholic and daydreamer and is very passionate about dancing:
"I love dancing the most. Hip-hop dance is the best thing I ever do in my life. It’s never wrong to say that music can help people to heal their souls. I have started dancing when I was 14, and from that time on, music has always been my best friend."


We're getting closer to home, but not until we greet one of our neighbours. Ivan Denisenko is a first-year student of the Energy and Environmental Engineering double degree programme. He's originally from Vyborg, Russia and he's the right guy to contact for musical collaborations.
"Active and willing to support different kind of social work, I decided to join the TAMK Ambassadors team to bring some of my ideas to life and also help TAMK with my own labour and enthusiasm. More than that, to me it's a great opportunity to get to know many people, both those who are with me in this team and those who I will help as part of my duties. I also write music, sing and play the guitar, so if you have any interesting musical cooperation ideas or need a person for a band, contact me at any time."


We now reached home with our last, but not the least TAMK Ambassador, Elina Eskola. Elina is a Business Information Systems student who enjoys travelling, exploring new places and meeting new people. And she has quite an unusual and interesting favourite hobby...
"I love spending my time either playing, reading or doing various different sports. Aerial fitness is my favourite."



Best of luck to our TAMK Ambassadors and we can’t wait to hear more about their duties and achievements!

Read more here:




Scandinavian countries put themselves back on top of the leader board by scoring exceptionally well on international student satisfaction in 2016.

With Norway as a winning country scoring a 9.3, followed by Finland in 4th place, Sweden in 7th place and Denmark in 8th position, Scandinavian universities maintain their reputation of high student satisfaction characterized by offering solid and high-quality education to their students.

Being included in the International Student Satisfaction Awards is recognised as a great achievement for universities and we are very pleased to announce that Tampere University of Applied Sciences has won the StudyPortals Award for Very Good International Student Satisfaction 2016. International students rated their study experience at our university with an average score of 8+ based on 85 reviews. This result takes TAMK to the top ten universities in Finland.


Tampere University of Applied Sciences would like to express its gratitude to all our amazing international students for their reviews and to StudyPortals for sharing this valuable information with us.
Thank you!


StudyPortals is the international study choice platform, enabling students to find and compare their study options across borders. StudyPortals’ annual award is based on the analysis of thousands of students reviews on, the world’s largest database of international student experiences. These reviews provide rare insights into universities’ performance from a student’s’ perspective.

International Student Satisfaction Awards 2016 were officially announced during the Annual EAIE conference Liverpool, on 15th of September, 2016.

More information about StudyPortals here:

This year’s press release on the country rankings:

International Coordinator, Mirja Onduso and Communicator, Andruta Ilie started organizing a series of Finnish activities at TAMK for international students who study or do their exchange at Tampere University of Applied Sciences. The aim of this project is to introduce students to the Finnish lifestyle while connecting with each other and developing friendships.

For our second event, we took the students to see the beautiful wooden houses in the Pyynikki area, we walked all the stairs of Pispalan Portaat (more than 300 steps) and stopped for a munkki (doughnut) and a coffee at the Pyynikki Observation Tower Cafe on our way back to the centre.

Yang Li, Chinese exchange student took some great photos and shared her impression below:
"Today is a little bit cold. We went to Pyynikki, although it's not a sunny day but the scenery is still wonderful. We went to a tower and enjoyed famous doughnuts. I am so lucky to have this experience and cannot wait to share it with my friends." 


And here’s one of us all, taken by Mirja Onduso:

International Coordinator, Mirja Onduso and Communicator, Andruta Ilie started organizing a series of Finnish activities at TAMK for international students who study or do their exchange at Tampere University of Applied Sciences. The aim of this project is to introduce students to the Finnish lifestyle while connecting with each other and developing friendships.

First event, “Board games & baking pulla” took place in Tamko, on Friday, 16.09. Here’s the feedback we received from one of our international students from Mexico:

"Our first Finnish activity is done! We had a really pleasant time baking pulla and having fun with board games. We even invented some new games as well. The activity took place at Tamko and there were students from Vietnam, China, Uruguay, Spain, Costa Rica, Japan, Greece and other countries. 

First, we introduced ourselves and made teams to start preparing for the recipe that Mirja gave us. Each team followed the instructions and others were just experimenting. But in the end, we had the same dough for pulla. Before continuing baking, we had to leave the dough rest for an hour. Meanwhile, Mirja created a "Game of Names" due to the fact that each of us had special and difficult names to pronounce, apart from the easy ones. We laughed about it and got back to the kitchen, where the next step was to give a form to the dough and get some pullas into the oven. While we waited for them to bake, we played board games such as Bang!,Twister and a new one invented by Mery, one of the students from Uruguay.

You ever know what opportunities you will miss if you don't get out of your comfort zone and join our next Finnish activity. We would be glad to meet you! Save the date for the next activity! I'm sure you will have a great time!"

Gabriela Velázquez, IB exchange student from Escuela Bancaria y Comercial (EBC), Mexico

Let's start!

Board games

Board games1Chess



Photos: Mirja Onduso


Some NICE network members and a view to Wachau valley in Dürnstein

Some NICE network members and a view to Wachau valley in Dürnstein


Pirkko Varis with other NICE network participants

Pirkko Varis with other NICE network meeting participants

In summer 2016 Pirkko Varis from Tampere University of Applied Sciences participated in the annual NICE network meeting, organized at IMC University of Applied Sciences Krems in Austria. The organizational team consisted of Max Schachner, Regina Parzer and other staff members of the International Relations Administration who organized a great meeting for all of us.

Opening session of NICE network meeting at Campus Krems


On the red carpet at Campus-Ball Krems

On the red carpet at Campus-Ball Krems

The welcome speech was given by Karl Ennsfellner, CEO & Head of International Relations, and the presentation of the IMC University of Applied Sciences Krems was done by Max Schachner, Deputy Head of International Relations. The programme included plenary and workshop sessions on intercultural learning, the role of HEIs in the integration of refugees, assessment of funding bids and many other issues.  We also had a chance to attend the Campus-Ball Krems, including the red carpet experience, an opening show, other entertainment and dancing. What a feeling!

Anneliis, Pirkko, Nijole and Rafael on a cruise on Danube River

Anneliis, Pirkko, Nijole and Rafael on a cruise on Danube River


Regina and some of us having a nice time on a  Danube cruise ship

Regina and some of us having a nice time on a Danube cruise ship

We did cruising on the Danube River in the Wachau valley with a river cruise ship of BRANDNER Schiffahrt. The Wachau (“Wachau Cultural Landscape”) is a UNESCO world heritage site and a very beautiful tourist destination, located between the Melk and Krems.  We visited the city of Melk and had a guided tour of Melk Abbey.  We also visited Dürnstein and had a dinner at a typical Austrian wine tavern.

Regina in the city of Melk

Regina in the city of Melk


Our group with a view to Melk Abbey

Our group with a view to Melk Abbey


 Dinner at a typical Austrian wine tavern

Dinner at a typical Austrian wine tavern

We visited the winery Lenz Moser where we made a tour through the wine cellar. The representatives of Lenz Moser told us about the winery and marketing of the products. We also had a wine tasting with the possibility to taste typical wines of the region, for example Grüner Veltliner.

 Lenz Moser Weinkellerei

Lenz Moser Weinkellerei


A tour at Lenz Moser winery

A tour at Lenz Moser winery

We made a walking tour in the city of Krems to see the key attractions.  The daily programme was organized at Campus Krems, meeting the highest international standards.  During the city tour we were able to visit the IMC International Campus “Piaristengasse”, located in the former Piarist monastery at the heart of the old town. The campus has ultra-modern lecture theatres and technical equipment, and the Baroque ceremonial hall and charming inner courtyard add to the distinctive feel of the campus.  In addition to other programme, we did a lot of networking. In the evenings we enjoyed music, entertainment and traditional Austrian meals.

IMC International Campus “Piaristengasse”

IMC International Campus “Piaristengasse”


Krems an der Donau

Krems an der Donau

Thank you for the amazing experience and great Austrian hospitality!


Text: Pirkko Varis, Senior Lecturer in Marketing, TAMK School of Business and Services

Photos:  Regina Parzer, IMC University of Applied Sciences Krems, Austria & Pirkko Varis, Tampere University of Applied Sciences 


What is NICE network?

The New Initiatives and Challenges in Europe, NICE network is a network for representatives of more than 35 business schools, faculties and departments of business and economics.  They work together in order to develop curricula, joint projects, intensive courses, exchanges, internships and other cooperation. Pirkko Varis from Tampere University of Applied Sciences has taken part for more ten ten years in the NICE network and in the projects initiated by the members of the network. For example the IICEE European module was developed by some partners and now it is part of the curriculum in several universities throughout Europe. In annual meetings of the network study programmes and methods are compared, new initiatives are discussed and proposals are made for cooperation and development of the network.  The Quality Charter of the NICE network and other information is available on the website of the network at


Veijo Hämälainen

TAMK’s most adventurous learning environment is undoubtedly, Proakatemia. A place incorporating a unique concept where coaches and students work in teams in fixed offices. A place where students not only dream of becoming successful entrepreneurs, but where they receive all the support and knowledge to turn those dreams into reality. Its teaching and learning approaches are eye-catching even for international visitors:” Not many places are brave enough to attempt teaching in the same manner.” stated Jennifer Johnston, Course Leader in Marketing and Sales at the University of Portsmouth in UK when referring to Proakatemia during an international week event organized by Tampere University of Applied Sciences.

Eager to understand Proakatemia’s functioning and authenticity, I stepped forward and invited Head Coach, Veijo Hamalainen to talk me into the matter.

Which criteria do students have to meet to study at Proakatemia? Can you describe the selection process?

We have had our own selection process for two years now and we discovered there are plenty of young people suitable to be entrepreneurs. We don’t use marks in our selection process. They have a two-minute video task to prepare by themselves. A video is easier to watch and it requires more thinking: you have to get a camera, write the content for it and think about what you want to say in only two minutes. There is also a curriculum vitae task and they can get a few more points on it, if they have some entrepreneurial background experience. Afterwards, they come to Proakatemia for the final task which involves writing a short essay, followed by a one-hour group interview. The overall result is based on the number of points accumulated from all tasks.

When I think of entrepreneurs, what comes in my mind are ambitious people with an enormous self-drive. Are you looking for those specific qualities in your students?

I disagree with you on this one. I remember an introvert student who turned out to be very special. She thought she didn’t have the possibility to continue as an entrepreneur because of her personality and having to do selling. Here, you have to acquire selling skills and make new contacts all the time. She graduated two and a half years ago and ever since, she has been an entrepreneur. She even has her own company now, called Hehku Visual.

It’s amazing to see how many kinds of people can also be entrepreneurs and find inside them the spirit to do things by themselves, and not rely upon others.

How do you keep your students motivated in the long run with the freedom given to them to choose their own courses and projects?

It’s not a problem to keep them motivated, it’s quite much in the air here. But a special aspect is if someone doesn’t do things properly or slows down others’ progress, that person can be kicked out from the team. Students own the companies and they decide what’s best for them. The person who is kicked out can still continue studying in Kuntokatu. Maybe it’s better for him to study all by himself because here is so much team work, team project, team everything and not all people are team people.

Entrepreneurship is so versatile and with such many ways of doing it, attitude is everything.

What kind of feedback do you receive from students?

One first year student came to me yesterday after a short presentation and said:” Thank you! I have to give you feedback.” “You want to give me feedback in your second day?”, I asked. He answered he felt uplifted, because he tried so many things and always thought that if he makes a wrong choice, he will end up with a narrow vision. I told him: “While you’re here, I hope you take different projects, read interesting books and try new things. Then it will be easier for you to decide what you want to become.”

Entrepreneurship is so versatile and with such many ways of doing it, attitude is everything.

Has Proakatemia got its own feedback system? How does it work?

Our feedback system consists of many discussions, for our main method to learn is through dialog. We have a monthly meeting with one person from each team and myself to discuss what things are working well, which are not, how can we change the ones that are not functioning properly etc. When the meeting is over, we write a short report and next month, we can evaluate if the changes we applied were good or not.

How many coaches have you got in present? What are their attributions?

We now have seven of them (one coach per team) and they do other work as well, besides coaching here. We provide selling services, coaching for companies in Tampere, and we take EU funded projects all the time. Our activity is quite complex and it changes every year. I, for example, created three leadership programs, one for Valio (market leader in dairy products in Finland), one for Tapola (meat processing plant) and the last one for Fixteam (Finnish company specialized in fixing cars.

Are you able to share any of those experiences with your students?

When possible, yes. Of course, it depends on the company’s policy and the issues they’re facing. Some cases are quite interesting and we can take teams from here when coaching companies. Team members get very excited because they know how much they can learn from those opportunities and you can really tell how much effort they put in. When I ask them to help me with a presentation, for example.

Can you recall a moment when you coached a company or an organization with a student?

I remember one particular occasion from 2000, when I went to Turku University of Applied Sciences with one of my students, Eva-Maria. She is the kind of person who loves reading and has a great memory. So when I used to formulate a theory, Eva-Maria would remember which book it was from and the author of it. Teachers there were in shock: “Amazing! How do you know all that?” “Oh, I just read those books.”, was her reply. She had more knowledge about books than I had.

Do coaches remain the same the whole period or do they switch teams?

Yes, they do. However, we have a coach changing week (one in autumn and one in spring) where coaches switch teams so the students get a chance to know all of them well. I coach a team and I also coach individually. The advantage of coaching individually is that you get to know each other better much faster and to develop trust. We know our students quite well because they tell us special aspects of their lives, they share with us problems they had, difficult backgrounds from their families etc. It’s all about trust and it gives us a good feeling to know we’re important to them even after they finish their studies here.

Which top skills do students learn at Proakatemia?

Courage- they can easily do things they are not sure will succeed. Being courageous is a great competence of our students.

The ability to get knowledge-if they want to know something, they know how to get that knowledge for themselves.

Networking- students come to understand the importance of a good network and how much a business depends on it.

Besides those skills, students learn basics of business, how to sell, how to market, how to pay taxes and other financial aspects crucial to start up a company.


Text: Andruta Ilie

Photo: Saara Lehtonen

Note: Jennifer Johnston visited Proakatemia during the International Week event organized by TAMK’s School of Business and Services.