european students’ union

SYL: Want to stay, but forced to leave

February 5, 2016
In what light do international students and youth see Finland? Racism is present every day and asylum seekers fear fire bomb strikes. To get even an interview when applying for a job, you often need to be fluent in Finnish and have a Finnish-sounding name. The bureaucracy is difficult to master.

Shuo Wang and Osama Alaloulou wrote well on the topic in the Finnish newspaper Helsingin Sanomat in a letter to the Editor on 10 January 2016. International students would like to stay in Finland, but it has been made very difficult for them. In 2012, when the University of Helsinki conducted a study on international graduate employability and barriers to finding jobs, 86% of respondents perceived lacking skills in Finnish or Swedish to be a barrier. Other obstacles included the lack of networks (51%), discrimination based on ethnicity during recruitment (32%), and insufficient career counseling at the higher education institutions (26%).

In Canada, for instance, similar problems have been addressed by combining language instruction, mentoring, and traineeship programmes. Thanks to this, Canada has achieved an 80% employment rate among international students. Also anonymous job application procedures would ensure more equality. For instance, the Institute for Labour Market Policy Evaluation found that the probability of advancing to interviews increased by 50 per cent for individuals of non-Western origin when applications were handled anonymously. Wand and Alaloulou also propose, for example, that students who have completed a Master’s degree would be granted a permanent residence permit. All students do not necessarily stay in Finland, and that is also positive: Finland can efficiently further global development when experts who have received a high-quality education in Finland go back and develop their home countries. One example of this is the Somali presidential candidate Fadumo Dayib, who was educated in Finland.
Students also want to further employment. In the years 2016–2017, the National Union of University Students in Finland (SYL), will work on a project with the objective of creating more traineeship options, communicate about the potential of international students, and collecting information about successful pilots. True internationalisation is a prerequisite for competitiveness and education export. We want to challenge all higher education institutions, labour market organisations and Finnish society to welcome internationalisation – it pays off.

Alviina Alametsä, National Union of University Students in Finland, (international advocacy, development co-operation, employment affairs)

1 VALOA-hankeselvitys “Employability of International Graduates Educated in Finnish Higher Education Institutions” (2012)Helsingin yliopisto, urapalvelut
2 Åslund & Skans 2007: Do anonymous job application procedures level the playing field?, Institute for Labour Market Policy Evaluation, Working paper 2007:31, http://www.ifau.se/upload/pdf/se/2007/wp07-31.pdf
3 VALOA-hankeselvitys “Employability of International Graduates Educated in Finnish Higher Education Institutions” (2012)Helsingin yliopisto, urapalvelut

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