The First Year of HAIC

A year ago, in the summer of 2016, the Deans of Science at Aalto University and University of Helsinki established Helsinki-Aalto Center for Information Security (HAIC) as a joint strategic initiative. The initial mandate of HAIC was to “focus on offering scholarships for talented master’s students choosing to specialize in information security” with a mission to refine to a broader scope in subsequent years. The initial mandate was motivated because of the threat of likely drop in the quality of application to the MSc programs in both universities due to factors like the introduction of tuition fees for students from outside the European Union and the ending of the highly successful NordSecMob program at Aalto University which brought excellent international students to Finland and trained them in security and mobile computing for a decade.

To address the initial mandate, it was decided in consultation with the deans, that

  1. Deans will offer a number of tuition fee waivers for incoming top students from outside the EU
  2. HAIC leadership will solicit donations from industry to help fund living cost scholarships for incoming top students from outside the EU

In addition, the dean of Aalto University School of Science set aside some funding for HAIC. In consultation with the dean, it was decided to use this funding to grant “honours work contracts” for incoming top students who do not receive living cost scholarships.

Fundraising was successful. Two companies, F-Secure and Intel, became HAIC donors, and Nixu  became a HAIC supporter. Altogether, in the spring 2017, HAIC was able to offer full living cost scholarships as well as full tuition fee waivers to three non-EU applicants and one honours scholarship to one applicant in Aalto University.  For the University of Helsinki, HAIC was able to offer one scholarship and tuition fee waiver to one applicant and a tuition fee waiver to another applicant. Read more from the HAIC Report 2017.

Next year, 2018, the highly successful NordSecMob program at Aalto University will continue in the form of a new joint MSc program, an Erasmus Mundus Joint Masters Degree Program, called Security and Cloud Computing (SECCLO) funded by European Commission. An important factor in the program proposal was the support and involvement of the partner companies, Nokia Bell Labs, Cybernetica, F-Secure, Guardtime, Intel and VTT, as well as the HAIC initiative and industry funded scholarships that enable long-term sustainability of the program. As a result of the SECCLO funding and HAIC scholarships, an increasing number of outstanding MSc students can be expected to apply to Aalto University and the University of Helsinki for majoring in information security. In other words, the new SECCLO program will greatly amplify our ability to meet the goals behind the setting up of HAIC.

New companies with an interest in security education are welcomed to join HAIC to ensure the long-term success of the program. Read more about the full donations and supporting donations from the HAIC Report 2017.