Immigrants acquainted themselves with universities

The universities and polytechnics in the Helsinki Metropolitan Area introduced their offering particularly to young people with immigrant backgrounds at Lasipalatsi in Helsinki.

Lasipalatsi

The University of Helsinki participated in the event organised for the second time within a year. The previous event at Lasipalatsi was visited by 300 people with immigrant backgrounds who were interested in higher education.

“The Helsinki Metropolitan Area must acknowledge immigration issues in a different way to other regions. As much as ten percent of the population in this area have an immigrant background. Higher education institutions play a key role in their education and supporting their integration into Finnish society,” says Kati Isoaho, coordinator of the even.

Should people with an immigrant background have an easier access to higher education?

“Higher education providers could consider their criteria for student admission. Is it really necessary, for example, that the students’ Finnish skills are perfect when they apply to an educational institution? Another thing for both the higher education institutions and public sector employers to consider is the recognition and suitability of degrees taken elsewhere.”

Anna Sysi-Aho, who is on her last year in the Master's programme in pharmacy, is not in favour of a separate admission for students with an immigrant background. She studied Finnish for a year before taking the entrance exam.

“Although entrance exam books are available in many languages and many subjects offer teaching in English, It is still easier to make friends and build networks if you know the language. Studying will be easier, if you even understand a little bit of Finnish.”

Sysi-Aho has already earned a degree in Hungarian grammar, literature and ethnography.

“I could have continued in my own field with post-graduate studies, but I wanted to venture further afield. It is easier to find a job when you have concrete qualifications.”

In addition to teaching, Sysi-Aho appreciated the facilities on the Viikki campus.

“Study materials are easily available and the computers in good condition, and there are several student restaurants in the area.”

Text and photo: Sanna Agullana
7.10.2009
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