I have read the article ‘Financial Struggle is Real for Foreign Students’ in Jylkkäri 5/2017 that I was interviewed for. It was written in English so that all of the Finnish and international students could read. The title perhaps, was meant to be provocative to attract attention from both populations.
One would expect from the title, however, that the article would focus on criticizing the reality on behalf of the international students. The article, to my surprise, was more directed to giving advice to the international students, mentioning the need for proactive behavior and the language skills for brighter job prospects.
These are true, but there can be more cases that can be taken into consideration in understanding the international students. Here below are some of them.
Case 1. Student ‘Gab’ has come to Finland for a master’s degree after working for several years. Gab has been funding himself from his savings and is going back to his work after earning a degree.
Although he would be open to possibilities of working abroad, the experiences he gets as a student in the Nordic Europe and Finland are enough to satisfy him.
In this case, he might not be fully engaged in contacting the possible employers and learning Finnish, but he is more excited to find out what good memories Finland can offer.
Case 2. Student ‘Eul’ is a devoted student in her degree program. She is confident about what she wants to do in the future and came to Finland to earn a degree. She is grateful that she could study in Finland with less cost but she already knows that she will be out of Finland after graduation.
In this case, she might not be looking for job offers or learning the language but will be more interested in the academic qualities that Finland is known for.
Case 3. Student ‘Byeong’ is a younger master’s student right out of his bachelor’s degree, only with less than one year of internship. He seeks support from his parents but it has been enough to complete his studies. He is socially active on and off campus, but not particularly bound to staying in Finland after graduation.
He enjoys learning Finnish and often use it to communicate with the locals, because he appreciates the importance of the language in the cultural context. He believes that the experience and the language skills he earned in Finland may well benefit his career wherever he goes.
All the above cases show different reasons why students come to Finland to study. It is not always the case that students are desperate to find jobs during or after the studies in Finland because of the financial struggle.
Coming abroad to study being one of the biggest decisions in their life, most of the students are well prepared to ensure that they finish their studies in the given time. In a master’s degree, there is also an option to go back to their home country to finish writing the thesis in the fourth semester, so they only need to support themselves for a year and a half abroad.
While it is true that Finland attract students from all over the world, choosing to work and stay in Finland can be a different matter. If Finland wants to get hold of the open minded and intelligent students they themselves educated, they should then try to offer some practical benefits to the graduates so that the international students will turn their eyes to Finnish job market as well. Then it will be a win-win!