The university tradition in Finland goes back to the time when Finland belonged the Kingdom of Sweden. In those days Åbo (Turku) was the main city of the Finnish part of the kingdom. It was a natural decision for the Swedish government to establish a university in the local capital in order to foster loyal clerks and civil servants. This occurred in 1640 when Count Per Brahe ruled over Finland under the famous Queen Christina.
It was a small, but well-known university and professors like Pehr Kalm (economics), Johan Gadolin (chemistry) and Henrik Gabriel Porthan (history) were strong authorities long after their death. In 1809 Finland was overtaken by Russian Empire and Helsinki/Helsingfors became capital of Finland in 1812. The Emperor moved the university to the new capital in 1828 after a disastrous city fire in Åbo.
Åbo Akademi University was founded as a private university one year after the independence declaration of Finland in 1918. It was not overtaken by the government until 1981. Åbo Akademi University is the only comprehensive Swedish language university in Finland taking care of the higher education of the Swedish minority amounting to 300 000 individuals (6%).
Today Åbo Akademi University is a comprehensive research university with seven faculties spread over three campuses; Åbo, Vasa and Jakobstad. Research and teaching activities may be found in humanities, natural sciences, political sciences, chemical engineering, business and administration, theology, education and teachers training as well as social and caring sciences. About 7000 students perform their studies in our university. Some 1000 students have a Finnish school background, but they have chosen to do their studies in Swedish in order to become perfectly bilingual. Close to 300 foreign students from 25 different countries visit our university every year and a large part of them stays here in order to obtain their degree. A considerable amount of lectures are given in English. A complete credit transfer system has been established with the two other universities in Åbo, the University of Turku and Turku School of Economics and Business Administration. Our university has been a pioneer in the European Credit Transfer System (ECTS).
Åbo Akademi University is further a partner of the Coimbra Group as well as of the Santander Network. Student and staff exchange is organized within the framework of the Nordplus (Nordic Countries), Erasmus (Europe), Tempus (Eastern Europe) and ISEP (USA) programmes and under bilateral agreements with some 40 other universities. The International Office of our university gives further information about exchange matters and take good care of foreign students. Foreign students form an important asset of our university. On their arrival in the fall the Rector gives a welcome reception and in the spring he personally introduces the students to the secrets of the Student Carnival around the First of May.
Our university is characterized by its small size, friendly staff, good contacts between teachers and students, excellent computer facilities for all students and high flexibility in the study programs. We would be happy to welcome all students reading this message to our university. Those who are more interested in research matters are kindly asked to proceed to Faculties and Research Institutes.