University of Helsinki: Master’s Thesis collaboration is a unique way for companies to benefit from the expertise of our international students

To solve the world’s biggest problems, we need to bring the best international minds together. At the University of Helsinki, we work in close collaboration with business and society to help solve real world problems with innovative, practical solutions.

Currently we have over 1 200 international students studying one of our 36 International Master’s Degree Programmes, who will go on to have a significant impact across the world after graduation. However what is less well known, is the opportunity for external partners to utilise our international students’ expertise during their studies by commissioning a master’s thesis.

As Liaison Manager for Corporate Partnerships Suvipäivikki Mikola from the university explains, the opportunity to commission a master’s thesis is part of a growing desire for collaboration opportunities between students and external organisations.

– For many years, the university has worked successfully in partnership with a variety of organisations to conduct research and solve problems facing society and business. We are now strategically focused on external collaboration and as part of this mission, we know both our students and companies are keen to collaborate together in different ways and have an impact on society.

Present a challenge- our students will attempt to solve it
Therefore, at the university we have been exploring different ways to facilitate this form of mutually-beneficial collaboration between our students and external partners. Commissioning a Master’s thesis is one such opportunity.

As an organisation, you can propose a topic or present a challenge that you’d like our Master’s students to investigate. Once agreed and approved by their thesis supervisor(s), our students can then investigate the topic or challenge with you and present solutions as part of their Master’s Thesis.

Whilst the opportunity is open to all students at the university, as Suvipäivikki explained, our international students represent a particularly unique opportunity for companies.

– We believe our international students are a special part of our problem solving community, as they bring new perspectives and expertise to Finland.

– This can often lead to new solutions or help organisations to think differently about the challenges they present. By working in collaboration with a company as part of their thesis, it also serves as a useful introduction for international students to learn about Finnish organisations and helps them to develop their professional networks, which can help them to find work in Finland long term.

We currently have two modes for this form of master’s thesis collaboration: Direct collaboration between a student and degree programme or collaboration through our HELSUS Co-Creation Lab.

Commission a Thesis directly with a student and Degree Programme
Firstly, organisations can commission a Master’s Thesis about a specific topic or problem of their choice and work directly with a student. Almost all of our 36 International Master’s Degree Programmes allow for this form of collaboration between students and companies, however some programmes have specific rules to manage this form of collaboration.

As a university, we can put you in contact with relevant degree programmes to discuss the possibility of collaboration. The opportunity can then be officially advertised by the organisation on the JobTeaser website and students will contact you directly if they are interested in working on your chosen topic. The specifics of the collaboration can then be agreed between the student, thesis supervisor and the organisation commissioning the thesis.

Collaboration between a student and company is usually arranged in the form of an employment contract, one off fee or contract as a self-employed person/private entrepreneur. It is the responsibility of the student to work with their supervisor/degree programme and the organisation commissioning the thesis, to agree the details.

As Master’s theses are public, it is important to understand that if material used for the thesis includes data that is considered confidential according to legislation, such as trade secrets, the thesis submitted for assessment must not include any confidential information. Any such information must instead be included in the background material, which is not attached to the thesis submitted for assessment. However to support the protection of intellectual property and confidential information, the university has confidentiality agreement templates which can be agreed between the company and student/supervisor.

Once completed, the organisation commissioning the thesis typically has up to 30 days to review the thesis and to ensure any confidentiality needs have been met. The thesis is then submitted for assessment.

Join our HELSUS Co-Creation Lab for Sustainability
In addition to Master’s thesis cooperation directly with a student, our HELSUS Co-Creation Lab offers a unique form of supervised thesis cooperation between students and companies or public-sector actors.

The HELSUS Co-Creation Lab is a cooperative, scheduled and facilitated process for master’s thesis collaboration related to sustainability topics. Participating organisations pay a fixed fee to join the Lab, then they present their sustainability challenge that they would like students to investigate. During the Co-Creation Lab, students work with both the participating organisations and their thesis supervisors to develop their specific research question, investigate the challenge and then write their thesis.

At the end of the Lab, students present their results to the participating organisations and each student who completes their thesis on time receives a scholarship grant of 1500 euros.

With previous participating organisations including HELEN, Kemira, UPM, the City of Helsinki and the Ministry of the Environment, the HELSUS Co-Creation Lab has proved to be a successful programme for bringing current and future sustainability experts together.

Benefit from the expertise of our International Students
By commissioning a master’s thesis or taking part in our HELSUS Co-Creation Lab, you can unlock the full power of our global problem solvers and benefit from our international students’ expertise.

Through mutually-beneficial master’s thesis collaboration, you can gain valuable new insights for your business and help international students to succeed in Finland.