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Vaasa higher education institutions: “See our international students as a resource for Ostrobothnia’s growth and internationalisation”

With funding by the City of Vaasa, five higher education institutions in Vaasa have decided to join forces to bring together the region’s working life and international students.

Vaasa is a prominent knowledge city with some 13,000 students where the higher education institutions also offer degree programmes in English. In the academic year 2020–2021, close to 700 international students are studying for a degree in Vaasa. Many of them want to stay in the region after graduation, but the lack of e.g. personal networks makes it many times hard for them to find a job.

– The “Vaasa International Talents” project aims at creating contacts between the working life and international students in higher education institutions. Students can cooperate with businesses when writing their thesis, and some students also need internships as part of their studies. International students represent a great potential for the growth and internationalisation of the business sector. They can contribute an outside perspective thanks to their background, language skills, and knowledge of other cultures and markets, says Anna-Karin Jansson, Business Developer at Novia UAS.

The project is funded by the City of Vaasa and carried out by five higher education institutions: University of Vaasa, VAMK University of Applied Sciences, Novia University of Applied Sciences, Åbo Akademi University, and Hanken School of Economics. From the start of the autumn, Novia’s Integration Coordinator Pia Jünger is coordinating the project.

– We invite working life actors to co-create with us different types of activities that work for our region, Jünger tells.

– The project will help employers find international talents, while simultaneously offering various types of support and guidance to both employers and students, says Specialist Sami Ilomäki from the University of Vaasa.

According to the recent international Eurostudent VII student survey, approximately half of international degree students in Finland plan to stay in the country at least for the time being after graduation, while 40 per cent were still undecided. Finland is dependent on international experts to secure the country’s future wellbeing and competitiveness. At the same time, our country competes at a global arena for the best talents. A regional study of international students, made by Talent Coastline in the spring 2019, showed that international students clearly had a need for personal networks and a certain level of knowledge of the national languages in order to get their foot in the working life’s door. In addition to personal networks and language skills, integration is facilitated by an understanding of the Finnish working life and society.

– As part of an ecosystem, the five higher education institutions in Vaasa want to create opportunities for international students to establish themselves in the region after graduation. We look forward to working together with the region’s businesses and other actors to develop tools that meet the needs for competent labour force in the long term, tells President Örjan Andersson from Novia UAS.

The project is carried out in close cooperation with the regional Talent Coastline ecosystem coordinated by ELY Centre and TE Office, as part of the national Talent Boost programme. The aim is to attract international expertise to Finland and to get international experts to stay in the country.

Published: 16.11.2020