NESU – Nordiska Ekonomie Studerandes Union – is a Nordic non-political organization of business students, and has roots going well back into history.

Nordiska Handelhögskolornas Studenkårer​

In the years following the Second World War, several international networks were being actively formed, one of which was the Nordic Council. The objective of the council was to strengthen co-operation and improve relations between the Nordic countries. At the 40th anniversary ball of the Stockholm School of Economics in 1949, an international organization called AIESEC was formed of 16 different university organizations. AIESEC, Association Internationale des Etudiants en Sciences Economiques et Commerciales, was originally founded in France in 1947, but had no activity at the time.

The co-operation between the Nordic student unions, unfortunately, did not blossom, and in 1956 a meeting was organized in Copenhagen in an attempt to move the idea forward. At the meeting, it was agreed that the mutual collaboration would be increased by scholarly exchanges. However, after a few exchange students, it was noted that only a few benefited from this kind of co-operation. Nonetheless, the Copenhagen meeting also brought up other ideas.

In May of 1956, the congress NHS, Nordiska Handelhögskolornas Studekårer, was founded in Stockholm. The basic idea of the congress was to create closer collaboration between the business students in Sweden, Norway, Denmark, and Finland. In the beginning, the meetings of the congress were, although small, very prestigious at the president level. However, it was hoped that the operations of the organization would also concern normal students, and an idea of a specific “Nordic Week” was devised. This can be thought to be the original conference. The first “Nordiska Veckan” was organized in Stockholm in November of 1959.

From NHS to NESU

An organizational transform was carried out on NHS in the spring of 1972, in order to decrease pressure on the finances of member student unions. The transform allowed members other than schools of economics and hence the new name Nordiska Ekonomie Studerandes Union, NESU.

In 1973, the new rules of NESU were effective for the first time. The operations became more clear and the future was eagerly looked forward to. NESU organized three conferences in Vaasa, Oslo, and Århus.

In the same year, in addition to the new name, it was also decided that the mission of NESU was to influence the education of Nordic business students, to maintain and strengthen Nordic co-operation, exchange experiences, and evoke discussion of topical questions.

From the times of NHS to around 1980-85, the international network of NESU was very active. It was formed of 15-18 student unions, who all paid annual membership fees to NESU. The fee was 1,5 marks for every student (all of the student union’s students). However, several student unions saw the fee as useless and too strenuous on their finances, especially since an economic recession was going on. In the fall of 1988 the student unions arouse to resist the membership fees and so the NESU General Assembly decided to remove the membership fee and NESU became a non-profit organization.

NESU in the 21st century

The purpose of NESU has not really changed after being founded: it is a forum for debate and discussion for students of Nordic universities. In 2000, a common NESU for the whole of Finland was founded, NESU Finland ry, with Finland’s country representative Tuuli Ahonen as president. 

For the first 10 years, the organization was led by the board which consisted of cities’ NESU presidents, and the country representative as president of the board. At the 2011 NESU-Dagen, the organizational structure was changed by the initiative of country representative Outi Rajaniemi.

The present NESU Finland is led by the country representative and supported by a 4-8 person board elected in the annual meeting. The presidents of cities’ NESUs compose the NESU Finland committee. However, the purpose of the organization has remained unchanged over the years: NESU Finland’s mission is to coordinate NESU’s activities in Finland and expansion at a national and partially international level.

New cities have joined NESU’s activities at a constant pace. In Finland, NESU has spread to every city with a university-level business education. Presently NESU is active in Helsinki, Turku, Tampere, Pori, Joensuu, Jyväskylä, Oulu, Mikkeli, Lappeenranta, Kuopio, and Vaasa. A board, committee, or coordinator is responsible for the NESU-related activities in each of these cities.

In addition to Finland, at a Nordic level in the fall of 2011, the Turku conference visited the University of Stockholm to network with the local business student community. In the spring of 2012 NESU took part in Aarhus Case Competition in Denmark, which acted as a certain kind of mini-conference. In Denmark NESU was represented by students from Helsinki, Turku, Vaasa, Tampere, Reykjavik, and Stockholm. In January 2018 NESU President was invited to a Nordic co-operation seminar held in Uppsala, Sweden. The seminar started a tradition for Nordic co-operation meetings arranged by ICCA.

Today NESU is active in Iceland and in Estonia. NESU started in Estonia in the fall of 2010 after the conference organized by NESU-KY was partially arranged in Tallinn. Nowadays NESU-Tallinn is active in more than one schools and arranges sitz parties and other events for nesuits in Estonia. They also arranged their second NESU conference in autumn 2017 together with Finnish organization NESU-Enklaavi. NESU Iceland is more active than ever nowadays and with great long-term planning, they have managed to raise interest towards NESU in Iceland. NESU Iceland organized the Autumn Conference of 2018 in Reykjavik. NESU-Tallinn was reformed to be NESU Estonia, and a new member of Union, NESU-HEBS was formed. NESU-HEBS takes part in the Country Meetings of Estonia as it is a part of Estonian Business School.

During the year of 2018 there was a change of rules in NESU Finland ry so that the amount of board members was changed to be 3-8 members. This is the first year that there’s a board of three members plus a chairman of the board.

In the late 2010s, NESU president contacted Copenhagen business students, and NESU organized an excursion there on 2019. This was part of bringing more Nordic countries active in the NESU community.

Unfortunately, in the year 2020 the global COVID-19 pandemic hit the world and naturally affected also NESU life and NESU-events in Finland dramatically. Luckily, the NESU-boards adapted quickly to the situation, and during the years 2020 & 2021, NESU saw its first online events, such as online Sitz parties and NESU Dagen, and thus learned a way to also connect people virtually when times were though. As the situation was every once in a while better, NESU got together and also maintained its commonality through a few live Sitz parties and a couple of NESU-möksä’s.

Helsinki 31.7.2012, Tampere 1.7.2018, Espoo 9.2.2020 & Helsinki 12.8.2021

Anna Niiranen (1900s)
Juha Vepsäläinen (2000s)
Tessa Viinanen (2000s)
Ilkka Vertanen (NESU Finland and 2010s)
Noora Finne (2010s)
Heidi Riihimäki (2010s)
Seela Suhonen (2010s)

Text is partly translated from Finnish to English by Alex Harju