Åbo Akademi University is a Swedish language university in Turku, Finland (Åbo is the Swedish name for Turku). The university was founded in 1918, and is the oldest of the three universities in the city, the other two being the University of Turku and the Turku School of Economics. As of 2004, there are 7 941 students and a staff consisting of 1125 people. The university has activities not only in Turku, but also in Vaasa, Jakobstad, Helsinki and on Åland. Åbo Akademi was a private institution until 1981, when it was turned into a public institution.
As the only Swedish university in Finland Åbo Akademi University is responsible for higher education for all of the Swedish-speaking population (there is also some education given in Swedish at the University of Helsinki, but successful studies there require knowing Finnish). This role has many implications, on the education and research as well as on the social environment. As there are few students in most subjects, cooperation between the subjects and with other universities is very important.
A significant minority of the students are Finnish-speaking. While Turku in itself is mostly Finnish, the university provides a strong Swedish environment. Most of the students, regardless of original language, will be functionally bilingual when finishing their studies.
The university has a policy that non-Swedish speaking applicants from the Nordic countries are required to participate in a Swedish language test, in order to prove their ability to successfully study in Swedish. Applicants from non-Nordic countries can, however, choose between Swedish or English language tests.
In addition, there are several other units and joint programs, such as:
When the university was turned into a public institution the foundation Stiftelsen för Åbo Akademi remained. Besides maintaining many of buildings of the university, it is also a significant donor. The universities in Finland are now going to be turned into private institutions, Åbo Akademi University probably formally into a company.