Abo Akademi University is Finland’s third university having been founded in 1918. It has been defined ever since by its unique character as the only Swedish-language institution of higher education outside Sweden, serving Finland’s largest linguistic minority.
The main campus is based in the centre of Turku, Finland’s sixth largest city, known in Swedish at Abo, with the faculty of education and welfare studies located in Vaasa. Both are noted academic cities, Turku billing itself as the "City of Students" and it is believed that a quarter of the population, which is a little below 200,000, either teach or study at the university, while one fifth of Vaasa’s inhabitants are students.
The university had 5,500 students in 2019, including 780 postgraduates, spread across faculties of arts, psychology and theology, education and welfare, science and engineering and social science, business and economics. Around a thousand came from overseas, while a further 8,500 were enrolled in courses offered by the Centre for Lifelong Learning.
It describes itself as having "a unique role as the bridge between the university community in Finland and the other Nordic countries" and is the lead Finnish institution in the Baltic Universities Programme network linking 225 institutions in 14 countries.
Its special focus areas of expertise are minorities research, drug development and diagnostics, molecular processes and the sea. Researchers have, in the last year, devised fuels based on biomass with the same qualities as fossil fuels and a method of prescribing medicine via edible QR codes. Ironically, given the emphasis of the institution, some of its research has brought into question the cognitive benefits of being bilingual.