The School of Business turns 110 in 2021

In 2007 the Helsinki School of Economics was granted the coveted so-called Triple Crown accreditation, becoming the first in the Nordic Countries to do so.
School of Business. Photo: Mika Huisman / Aalto University
School of Business at Ekonominaukio 1. Photo: Mika Huisman / Aalto University

The Helsinki School of Economics (1911–1974), the Helsinki School of Economics and Business Administration (1974–2009) and the Aalto University School of Business (2010–) – three names and one institution with 110 years of history behind it. In over a century the educational institution founded by businessmen, to train practical experts grew into an academic scientific community which has never forgotten its roots. Elina Pöykkö and Aaro Jalas wrote these words in the foreword to their book Liikkeessä! Kauppakorkeakoulun vuosisata ten years ago when the School of Business marked its centenary. All that was added to that paragraph were ten years. The other facts have not changed.

The School of Business started out in Helsinki on 16 January 1911 and Kyösti Järvinen, who had led the project to establish the school, was chosen as the Rector. The School of Economics started out in an art nouveau building on Fabianinkatu, which had been completed in 1907 for the use of Business College Helsinki. In 1950 the new main building of the School of Economics was completed on Runeberginkatu.

Onerva Vartiainen, a student of the class of 1952, spoke in an interview a year ago about her time as a student and returned to her memories 60 years ago. ‘When our course started, we had 280 students. The autumn began with an opening ceremony in the auditorium. From there we were sent to the Big Lecture Hall (later the NOKIA Hall), where 25-year-old Fedi Vaivio (who would later become the school’s Rector and Chancellor) told us about the history of the School of Economics and briefed us about topics related to study. Finally, he said: ‘You will be good buns when you get out of this Hilden's Bakery’. Hilden's Bakery was what the School of Economics was often called at that time because Helsinki had a well-known bakery by that name, and because the school's Rector was Kaarlo Hildén.’ 

After lengthy negotiations between the School of Economics and government authorities, the privately owned School of Economics became the state-run Helsinki School of Economics as of August 1974. The state took over the payment of the operating expenses of the school that it had bought, students were no longer required to pay tuition fees, and the professors became government civil servants, according to the book Liikkeessä! Kauppakorkeakoulun vuosisata.

In the abovementioned book, Eero Kasanen, the last Rector of the Helsinki School of Economics also recalls how the school strengthened its international competitive position and managed to win prestigious quality labels and network memberships in the first years of the 21st century. The School of Economics was the first Nordic business school to get the most important international quality accreditations in the field - AACSB, AMBA, and EQUIS. After getting the AACSB accreditation, the School of Economics also got the so-called Triple-Crown accreditation in 2007, showing that it ranked among the world's best institutions of higher education.

The Helsinki School of Economics, the Helsinki University of Technology, and the University of Art and Design Helsinki merged to form Aalto University on 1 January 2010. On this day, the School of Business became one of six schools that form the multidisciplinary Aalto University.

‘Our faculty and staff are very committed to their work. The academic level of achievement is also reflected in our recent excellent rankings. For example, our field of research in business economics placed 24th in the global ShanghaiRanking in 2020. By way of comparison, Stanford was only three places higher on the same list. Additionally, I’m grateful e.g. for getting very talented new students from Finland and abroad to our school every year’, says Timo Korkeamäki, Dean of the School of Business.

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