A total of 23 Finnish universities and universities of applied sciences have taken part in a wide-ranging international survey on how satisfied international degree students and exchange students are with their educational experience in Finland. For the first time, the International Student Barometer gives internationally comparable information at the national and institutional level about Finland as a study destination for international students.
International students happy with Finland and their Finnish institution
According to the survey, 89 percent of the international students are generally happy or very happy with their Finnish institution of higher education and study in Finland. The happiest students come from India, Slovakia, Lithuania, Latvia, the Czech Republic, and Russia, while there is most dissatisfaction among Ukrainian, Mexican, American and Hungarian students.
Of the respondents, 83.9% would recommend their Finnish institution and Finland as a destination of study to other students. This compares well to the average European figure of 80.5%, and even more favorably to the overall average rate of 79.1%.
Student satisfaction was measured in four main areas: learning, living and accommodation, support services, and services at arrival.
Material facilities and stable Finnish society score highly
The students are especially happy with the material facilities of the institutions, such as libraries, lecture rooms, laboratories, computer facilities, IT services, and support services. Finland is also identified as a safe and socially stable country.
The Finnish institutions score higher than average for services at arrival and are duly commended for these arrangements. The staff at the international offices, as well as the accommodation services, are recognized for their excellent levels of service.
Most criticism of careers and recruitment services and living costs
There is clearly room for improvement in employment-related services. Students are also concerned about finding a job after graduation. Similarly, Finland is an expensive country to live in: judging by the international average, this is the single biggest problem for international students.
The results show that many students seek not only a degree or a student exchange in Finland but would also like to find a job here.
That the students need careers guidance, that they wish to find their place on the Finnish job market and perhaps make their home here is something that the Finnish institutions of higher education and working life, in particular, should consider, says Pasi Sahlberg, Director General of CIMO.
More than 20,000 international students in Finland
While the Finnish institutions of higher education have made great strides in internationalization, Finland continues to have fewer international students than OECD countries on average. According to Statistics Finland, the Finnish universities and universities of applied sciences had more than 14,000 international degree students and almost 9,000 exchange students in 2009. China and Russia are the biggest countries of origin for degree students, while Germany, France, Spain, and Italy send a large portion of exchange students to Finland.
The students are obviously motivated by gaining a degree but most of all by a chance to find relevant employment either internationally or in Finland.
This need is perfectly understandable. But in order to be successful, the institutions need business life, industry and the service sector to appreciate one thing: here is a pool of graduates with singularly useful cultural capital, and it would be in the interests of any internationally active business to recruit them, Sahlberg notes.