Through a systematic effort, Finnish universities are becoming more international with each passing year. Not only are institutions of higher education actively recruiting foreign staff, but they are also encouraging more foreign students.
“Excellent research has always been international, but today the influence of the international academic community is felt in all parts and within all tasks of the organisation,” says Thomas Wilhelmsson, Rector at the University of Helsinki. “The number of foreign students has grown to almost 1,500 degree students and close to 1,000 exchange students per year.”
Wilhelmsson explains that to attract the best students from abroad, the university offers classes in English across all faculties. He says that soon the school will have thirty Master’s programmes conducted in English.
Alongside internationally flavoured education and research, Finnish institutions are also involved in global cooperative projects, such as developing a new e-paper platform for the distribution of news to remote areas in China. Participants laud the collaboration in information technologies and future services.
“The international contacts that are created in the process of such long-term and potentially high-impact cooperation are very important,” says Matti Hämäläi-
nen of Aalto University. “The concrete joint-research work creates a basis for developing educational and research exchanges among the involved institutions, launching new projects in related areas and extending the collaboration to other parties.”
The chance for collaboration with China is especially prized because China is growing rapidly and is devoted to some of the areas of high technology in which Finland excels.
“The opportunity to work with key research institutes and industry players in China – who are moving very rapidly forward – provides such knowledge and networks that would be difficult to otherwise establish,” Hämäläinen explains.
Text: DAVID J. CORD, Helsinki Times