The mission of West Finland College is to guide and support the students in achieving personal, cultural and educational goals in accordance with lifelong learning principles. Along with that, the school promotes the sense of community and internationality of education.
The College is actively and constantly developing its quality of education. We pride ourselves in the level of the professional qualification of our teachers, the diverse and up to date content of our education as well as facilitating both physical and intellectual conditions to allow students to best concentrate on their studies. From West Finland College you will also get international exposure, as teachers and students are from a variety of countries.
We espouse tolerance and give emphasis to a positive approach to life. We wish to give our students opportunities for enlarging their worldview and the possibility to get acquainted with academic and professional offers elsewhere.
West Finland College is bigger than the average Finnish Folk High School, which strength is in up-to-date and useful education. The school strives to offer the students the tailor-made education they have come to receive. The strong points of our activities are the constant development of education, the professional skills of our personnel, as well as providing a pleasant academic and social environment for all. We are committed to consistently improving in those areas. Our most important focus is our students and their wellbeing.
West Finland College is a politically and religiously independent school and a registered association, Länsi-Suomen opisto. The school has functioned in Huittinen for 120 years already. During the academic year about 80 students study 9-month long courses, however the total yearly number of students attending courses is over one thousand.
Inspired by other Nordic countries, Finns started establishing Folk High Schools in the 1890's. The first Finnish-speaking Folk High School was West Finland College. Although the opening ceremony took place on 1.11.1892, the first employee had already been appointed as director in April that year. The first students came mostly from Huittinen and surrounding areas. Study subjects were related to agriculture and household chores and activities. The main building was built on a plot of land that was donated in 1895.
M.A. Knaapinen was the first director of the school. Initially the school did not receive any governmental support and all the finances were generated from course fees, lotteries and donations. The school faced financial difficulties and the Tsarist Russia's indulgent attitude to Folk High Schools during WWI. After independence things did not improve much as there was another war in 1918.
In the 1920's, the social situation stabilised and the school started to strengthen in many ways. Studies still stayed very practical - focusing on what was needed in an agricultural society. The war years from 1939-1944 afflicted our country in many ways and naturally affected our school. Many students and teachers went to the front-line and studies had to be arranged in exceptional ways. During the Winter War an artillery educational center was located at the school and during WWII it functioned as a military hospital.
The breaking point came in the 1960's. Finland developed into an industrial country due to urbanisation and an exodus from the countryside which greatly impacted society. Both teachers' and students' educational backgrounds evolved. More and more students obtained a high school diploma and teachers achieved academic degrees. Marketing of courses was necessitated as a result. Prior to this development there was no need for marketing, as the students came from neighbouring areas and were aware of the school's educational offer already. But now more and more students came from other areas.
Educational content changed. Foreign languages studies, which school is famous for nowadays, were started in the 1960's. Generally the educational choice became more various and folk High Schools began to differ from each other. In the 1990's Folk High Schools became more autonomous in decision-making concerning their activities. This resulted in the multiplication of schools offering unique study programmes.
West Finland College has always tended to spear-head development. It has always aimed to be self-sufficient, using its own resources and concentrating on it's mission. Currently West Finland College is one of the biggest Folk High Schools offering informal adult education in the country. It is the most international among the Folk High Schools with about 1000 students attending courses here annually.