Aalto University was established as a priority project in the Finnish university renewal. The idea was to create a new innovative university merging science and technology, design and art, and business and economics.

The idea of a merger was first presented in autumn 2005 by the then rector of the University of Art and Design, Yrjö Sotamaa, in his opening speech for the academic year. A more concrete plan for the establishment of a new university was presented in February 2007, in the memorandum of the working group led by Secretary of State Raimo Sailas. The preparations for the university began later the same spring, when Prime Minister Matti Vanhanen included the new university into the Finnish government programme.

Altogether 500 members of the universities that were to form Aalto University were involved in the preparations. A total of 1 600 entries were received for the name competition organised in spring 2008. The name Aalto-yliopisto (Aalto University in English and Aalto-universitetet in Swedish) was confirmed on 9 May 2008. The name pays homage to the life and work of architect Alvar Aalto and the importance of his work both nationally and internationally.

The Aalto University charter was signed in June 2008. On 19 December 2008, the University's Board selected Professor Tuula Teeri as the first President of Aalto University.

On 1 January 2010, the Helsinki School of Economics, Helsinki University of Technology and the University of Art and Design Helsinki merged and Aalto University started operating.

History of three esteemed universities in the background

The School of Arts, Design and Architecture was founded in 1871 as Craft School. It has grown into one of the most international schools in Finland. It is the largest in its field in the Nordic countries and one of the most respected in the world.

The Aalto University School of Business was established in 1911. It is the first business school in the Nordic countries to have received the Triple Crown, i.e. all three labels of excellence from the world’s leading business school accreditation bodies: AACSB, AMBA, and EQUIS.

Helsinki University of Technology was founded in 1849. The four schools of technology at Aalto University have a leading position in Finland and are internationally renowned.

History of Helsinki University of Technology
History of the Helsinki School of Economics
History of the University of Art and Design

Alvar Aalto buildings in Otaniemi

The core of the Aalto University Otaniemi campus is a park campus more than 50 years old, which urban plan was the work of Alvar Aalto, and which contains individual buildings designed by him and other Finnish architects such as Reima and Raili Pietilä and Heikki and Kaija Sirén.

More information

Walking on Campus leaflet (pdf)

Page content by: | Last updated: 11.10.2017.