12 May 2016

Fulbright Finland Is Now a Foundation

Fulbright Center (the Finnish Fulbright Commission) has now officially been registered as a not-for-profit foundation in Finland. The Deed of the new Fulbright Finland Foundation was signed on May 13, 2016, by Jouni Mölsä, Director General of Communications of the Finnish Ministry for Foreign Affairs, and Susan Elbow, at the time Deputy Chief of Mission of the U.S. Embassy in Helsinki. The formal registration by the Finnish Patent and Registration Office went into effect on October 3, 2016.

“The change of the legal status from a commission to a foundation strengthens the legal and organizational status of Fulbright Finland, and enhances our opportunities to build the Finnish-American Fulbright program even further,” says the Chair of the Fulbright Finland Foundation Board, Professor Matti Kokkala.

The history of Fulbright Finland dates back to 1949, when the U.S. Congress decided to reinvest the payments of Finland’s post-World War I loan into academic exchanges, creating opportunities for Finnish citizens to study, train, and conduct research in the United States.  In Finland, the program is known by the name ASLA or Amerikan Suomen Lainan Apuraha, Finnish for "Grant from the American Loan to Finland". Soon thereafter, in 1952, Finland entered into an executive agreement to conduct academic exchanges within the Fulbright Program. Based on the same agreement, the Finland - U.S. Educational Exchange Commission (FUSEEC) was established in 1987. And since 1997, FUSEEC has also been known by the name Fulbright Center.

During its 67 years of operation, Fulbright Finland has sent over 3 700 Finnish grantees with different fields of expertise to the U.S., and over 1 800 Americans have come to Finland on a Fulbright grant.

A close and very fruitful cooperation between the U.S. Embassy in Helsinki, the Finnish Ministry of Education and Culture, the Finnish Ministry for Foreign Affairs, FUSEEC/Fulbright Center and the Finland-America Educational Trust Fund brought the efforts to change the legal status to foundation into a successful conclusion, and it is considered a major milestone in the history of the Finnish-American Fulbright program.

None of the underlying principles of the original governmental Fulbright agreement between Finland and the United States from 1952 are changed. In the beginning of October 2016, the Board of the new Fulbright Finland Foundation took over the responsibilities of the Finland - U.S. Educational Exchange Commission (FUSEEC) following the existing agreements and the same operating principles as in the past.

“As a foundation, Fulbright Finland continues to carry out the long tradition of exchanges of students, researchers and educators, while more solidly positioned both nationally  and internationally,” says a long-time FUSEEC Board Member Birgitta Vuorinen from the Ministry of Education and Culture.

“The new legal status and name also reflect the rapidly enhanced international profile of Fulbright Finland,” emphasize Counselor of Press and Cultural Affairs T.J. Grubisha from the American Embassy in Helsinki and Jouni Mölsä, Director General of Communications of the Finnish Ministry for Foreign Affairs. “In recent years Fulbright in Finland has become a well-known and respected entity among the over 150 countries that participate in Fulbright programs with the United States. The name Fulbright Center no longer manages to differentiate the Finnish-U.S. Fulbright program, and thus, the name Fulbright Finland has been used already some time to refer to the Fulbright organization in Finland.”

From the point of view of partners, the first concrete consequence of the new and enhanced status is that from now on, the official name Fulbright Finland Foundation, often shortened to Fulbright Finland, will start appearing in official documents. During this fiscal year, all FUSEEC operations will be transferred to the Fulbright Finland Foundation. The Foundation will be directly in contact with its partners about the existing partnership contracts.  The center continues to operate in Hakaniemenranta in Helsinki without changes to its contact information.

Additional information:
Terhi Mölsä, Chief Executive Officer, Fulbright Finland Foundation, terhi.molsa(a)fulbright.fi, tel. +358 50 570 5498
Matti Kokkala, Chair of the Board, Fulbright Finland Foundation, tel. +358 50 5900 395
Immo Aakkula, Counsellor of Government, Ministry of Education and Culture, tel. +358 295 330354