News about internationalisation


Sanni Grahn-Laasonen, Minister for Education and Culture, speaks to CIMO's interest groups at CIMO's birthday party. Photo: Satu Haavisto

#CIMO25! International for a quarter of a century

1 June 2016 marked the day of CIMO's establishment 25 years ago. Over the years, CIMO has developed from an agency running higher education student exchange programmes to a specialist organisation in international cooperation, covering all education and training sectors, youth, culture and the civil society. The anniversary will be CIMO's final year as an independent organisation: from the beginning of 2017, CIMO will continue its work in a new organisation in cooperation with the National Board of Education.

CIMO was established at a time when the Finnish society was rapidly expanding its international cooperation. Big political changes, such as the European integration and the collapse of socialism, were taking place in the international scene. In the beginning of the 1990s, only a few thousand people in Finland were involved in international mobility and it was mainly organised through bilateral programmes between countries, coordinated by different ministries. The driving force behind CIMO's establishment was to make administration, coordination and services more efficient by bringing all programmes under the same roof.

From exchanges to wider cooperation

The cornerstones of CIMO's work were the scholarship agency and the accommodation services moved from the Ministry of Education, international traineeship programmes from the Ministry of Labour and the expert, traineeship and scholarship programmes from the Ministry of Trade and Industry.

The European Union has played an important role in CIMO's work from the very beginning as Finland joined the Erasmus programme for higher education in 1991 and CIMO became the national agency for the programme. In 1994, along with the EEA agreement came the Youth for Europe programme, extending CIMO's work outside education and training. CIMO's role as the national agency and contact point for the EU programmes has grown significantly over the years. Now its responsibilities range from early childhood education and care to school education, vocational education and training, higher and adult education, also covering youth and culture and the civil society.

Nordic cooperation is also very well established at CIMO. The Nordplus programmes of the Nordic Council of Ministers are important tools in this cooperation. National programmes have been developed with the needs of the increasingly international society in mind. The focus of international traineeship and scholarship programmes has moved outside Europe, for example. Global responsibility, among other things, has become a focus in higher education cooperation, funded through development cooperation funding.

CIMO has also become an important producer of information. Targeted information is provided online to different sectors, and topical studies and statistics provide factual information about international developments for interest groups, decision-makers and citizens.

Growing staff numbers and funding

In 1991, CIMO had 26 staff members and its programmes had about 3,500 participants. Currently, the number of staff members in its Helsinki office is over 100 and, in addition, about a dozen of lecturers of Finnish language and culture work for CIMO in universities in different countries. Each year, the number of participants in the programmes and projects administered by CIMO is about 25,000 people. CIMO's budget in the year it was established was about 17 million Finnish marks (2.9 million euros), all of it coming from the state budget. In 2015, CIMO's budget was 47.8 million euros, 37 million of which were distributed further as grants and project funding. These days, government funding only accounts for 25% of CIMO's budget. The largest funder nowadays is the European Union, with a funding share of almost 60%.

For an open-minded and competent Finland
“Today we celebrate the progressive Finland: women got the right to vote 110 years ago and CIMO turns 25. Finland has become international over the past decades and CIMO has played a big role in the process", Sanni Grahn-Laasonen, Minister for Education and Culture, started her speech to CIMO's interest groups, gathered together in sunny Helsinki to celebrate CIMO's birthday. "Personal international experience is the best way to combat prejudice. It is easy to fear, criticise and hate what you don't know. Through its work, CIMO has helped make Finland more open-minded." Participants to the birthday panel, CIMO's previous directors Lauri Lantto, Ulla Ekberg, and Pasi Sahlbelg as well as Director Jaana Palojärvifrom the Ministry of Education and Culture stressed the increasing importance of international cooperation in building a better future. The work goes on!

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