Honour for Leicester student who went on to become Finnish Prime Minister and Vice-President of the European Commission

Posted by pt91 at Jul 13, 2015 01:15 PM |
Return to Leicester for European leader who will receive an honorary degree on Friday 17 July

Issued by University of Leicester Press Office on 13 July 2015

  • PHOTOCALL: Mr Katainen will tour the Centre for Medicine – Junction of University Road and Lancaster Road.  Photo opps at 9.30-10.15am during the tour with interview opps at the end.
  • Further photo/interview opps at De Montfort Hall, after degree ceremony, at 12.30pm
  • Contact pressoffice@le.ac.uk to request images.

On Friday, 17 July, the University of Leicester is honouring Jyrki Katainen, a former student who has risen to become Vice-President of the European Commission.

Jyrki Katainen will return to the Leicester campus, where he spent what he describes as ‘a very happy year’ as an Erasmus student between 1995-6.

He will be awarded the Honorary Degree of Doctor of Laws by the University of Leicester at a ceremony in De Montfort Hall on Friday 17 July.

Mr Katainen is currently responsible for implementing the European Commission's € 315bn (£220m) Investment Plan to boost the European economy by supporting strategic investments in infrastructure, education, research and innovation, as well as risk finance for small businesses. He will be meeting local businesses at Leicester's National Space Centre to discuss the Plan and other EU issues.

Mr Katainen will also tour the University’s state-of-the-art £42 million Centre for Medicine which is currently under construction. The Centre for Medicine is the largest investment in medical teaching and research by a UK University in the last decade. This comes at a time where there is a clear need to fight the growing threat of chronic diseases and improve patient safety and care. The facility will allow increased collaboration between clinicians and leading academics to address these challenges and transform the training of tomorrow's doctors.

The European Investment Bank and Barclays plc have helped finance the development of the building, as well as other campus projects and improvements.

Mr Katainen will meet with some postgraduate students working on an EU funded innovation project, the Innovation Research Support Accelerator (IRSA).   IRSA helps small businesses collaborate on R&D with the University of Leicester to accelerate the development and exploitation of new products, services, technologies, processes and markets cross the East Midlands.  Professor Paul Monks the Director of IRSA said: “It will be great to showcase the innovative work that the university and businesses are doing on topics as widely varied from the public house experience to river restoration.”

Mr Katainen said: "It is real pleasure to be back in Leicester where I spent a very happy year as an Erasmus student in 1995-1996.

“This was my first experience of what it meant to be part of the EU, with the freedom to travel, study and work in other Member States. In my political career I have always pushed to make sure that the next generation of young Europeans have the same opportunities I did to make the most of their potential. We need a fresh start in Europe – the Commission's € 315bn (£220m) Investment Plan will be a key to that I am looking forward to meeting up with students and University staff, as well as local business leaders, to hear what they think.

“Twenty years on I am greatly honoured to be returning for this degree ceremony and I look forward to discovering how the University and the City have changed in that time."

Mr Katainen is a current Vice-President of the European Commission, responsible for Jobs, Growth, Investment and Competitiveness. He joined the Commission in July 2014, as then Vice-President for Economic and Monetary Affairs and the euro.

Before that he served as Prime Minister of Finland (2011 – 2014) and Minister of Finance (2007 – 2011). He was Member of Finnish Parliament 1999 - 2014 for the National Coalition Party.

In addition, Mr Katainen was Member of the Finnish Delegation to the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly (2003-2007), Member of the Administrative Council of the Finnish Broadcasting Company (2003-2005), Member of the Finish Delegation to the Western European Union Parliamentary Assembly (2004-2005) and Deputy Member of the Finnish Delegation to the Nordic Council (2001-2003).

Mr Katainen has an MSc in Political Science from the University of Tampere, Finland (1998).

His hobbies include running, cycling and tennis.


All interviews by arrangement with the University of Leicester press office - please contact Peter Thorley on 0116 252 2415 or pt91@le.ac.uk.

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