Friday, 23 September 2011

Seminars and networking at EAIE 2011 in Copenhagen

The European Association for International Education (EAIE) 23rd annual conference took place in Copenhagen, Denmark, on 12 – 16 September 2011.

TAMK’s Head of International Services Kirsi Tolvanen (right) with colleagues of Hogeschool van Amsterdam (HvA), the Netherlands. TAMK and HvA will start cooperation in the field of Media.
The annual conference is the most important event for actors on international education to meet each other. The conference consists of parallel seminars, info and dialogue sessions, workshops and networking events. It was also possible to visit Danish partners during the one-day university visits. In the fair, there were 250 exhibitors: single universities, university conglomerates, national agencies, country offices, programme providers, etc.

4200 people, mainly from Europe but also from other continents, attended this year’s conference. Seven TAMK people participated from TAMK: Marja Sutela, Aura Loikkanen, Tarja Haukijärvi, Kirsi Tolvanen, Janne Hopeela, Gitte Taulo and Mirja Onduso.

-This is our best opportunity to meet with our partners: almost all our 370 partners are here. Instead of us travelling to their universities, we can meet them all here, says Kirsi Tolvanen, Head of TAMK International Services.

European students on the move

Swedes go to Denmark to study medicine, French to Belgium to become physiotherapists, Finns to Estonia to become veterinarians, Germans to Holland for their degrees – even British students are going abroad for their studies. There are increasing numbers of young people going abroad to study for a full degree. Reasons vary, impacts vary. And all this internationalisation is happening without EU support.

When the supply of education and demands from students do not match, students look for possibilities outside their own country. This is the case in some of the most popular fields of study, like medicine for Swedish students. One of the reasons for German students to go to Holland for their education is the quality of teaching. Students have reported about the crowded first-year classes at German universities due to the fact that everyone is accepted in the university. The selection to continue after the first year is made on the basis of performance in their studies. In the Dutch universities there will be smaller groups and a secured place to continue their studies. This migration happens even though Holland has introduced tuition fees also for EU citizens. The smaller tuition fees compared to England, on the other hand, is the reason why universities in Holland witnessed a large increase of British applicants.
The University of Aarhus (in the photo) is just merging with TAMK’s partner Engineering College of Aarhus. The new university will be called Aarhus School of Engineering (ASE).
Tuition fees or no tuition fees, is a stirring discussion. Is it right for a government to offer free education and in this way restrict competition between universities? Is this not subsidizing? This was a question posed in Copenhagen in one of the workshops by a participant from Holland. Polish students used to come to Holland before the tuition fees were introduced. Now they have turned to Denmark for free education. Is the Danish government not subsidizing the Danish Universities?

Almost all European countries offering English taught programs wish to keep the graduates to help with their diminishing work force. A study in Copenhagen showed that it is especially the Scandinavian degree students, the young, and those who have not had a student job who go back to their home countries after graduation. If not benefitting the countries that offer education for free or for low tuition fees, this student migration surely benefits the home countries of the students. They go back with degrees and loads of cross cultural experience.

It will be interesting to see the effects of the new government platform in Finland. Cutting down over 2 000 study places in particular from fields of culture, tourism and technology might turn into a migration of Finnish students to other European countries or other parts of the world for their higher education degrees instead of guiding students to other fields of studies. Or shall this cutting down of study possibilities prepare the ground and market for the landing of foreign universities offering education with tuition fees in Finland?

The joint reception was a huge success

TAMK, the University of Tampere (UTA) and Tampere University of Technology (TUT) hosted for the first time a joint reception for international partners. The reception took place on 15 September 2011 at the residence of the Finnish Ambassador to Denmark.

Ambassador Maarit Jalava mentioned in her welcome speech that supporting the internationalisation of Finnish education is also high on the agenda of the Finnish Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Maria Virtanen (left), Harri Melin (second right) and Marja Sutela (right)
Maria Virtanen, a coordinator of the Study In Tampere Region (SITR), project of the three universities, introduced Tampere as a student-friendly city and told about the forms of coordination of the joint activities: courses for international exchange and degree students, the "Finnish Society and Culture" lecture series, and joint job recruitment services for international students. UTA's Vice Rector Harri Melin and TAMK's Vice President Marja Sutela also greeted the guests.
The reception was attended by 100 partners from 30 countries. Many visitors were amazed with the services and the number of English-taught courses and programmes offered in Finland. 

 Inkeri Vänskä, Kongelige Teater's opera orchestra, played Finnish music at the reception.
More information on EAIE at www.eaie.org

Text: Aura Loikkanen and Mirja Onduso
Photos: Mirja Onduso

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