HEI LIFE project to support the integration of international academics and staff
The University of Helsinki is delighted and proud to manage a national project to support the integration of international academics and their families living and working in Finland.

The HEI LIFE project highlights topics and development needs that are relevant to all higher education institutions in Finland wanting to attract and retain international academics, staff and their families. #HEILIFE
HEI LIFE stands for peace

HEI LIFE supports peace, diversity, inclusion, and understanding

On behalf of the whole HEI LIFE project team, we want to express our support and concern to everyone affected by the horrific situation in Ukraine. Along with the whole Finnish academic community, the HEI LIFE project advocates peace, inclusion, and understanding instead of aggression.

We wish for everyone to have the opportunity to prosper and live their life in peace. We further hope that the actions of a few do not reflect negatively on the lives of many, and that we maintain a positive and inclusive spirit in all our academic communities.

Photo by Erkki Lampén

News & Updates

Guide for Peer Support Groups in Higher Education

As part of the results for sub project 2, the University of Turku has published a guide title 'Inclusion into Academic Life - a guide for peer support groups in higher education'. The guide gives practical examples and tools to promote a more welcoming and inclusive environment in HEIS. The guide is available in English online.

 

Thank you for the HEI LIFE Seminar!

The HEI LIFE project organised a seminar to discuss the project activities, results, and international talent attraction and retention in higher education and research institutions. 65 people attended the seminar on-site and 99 people watched the stream online, with some participants joining from other countries like Germany and Latvia.

 

In the seminar the project teams presented and discussed the activities and results of the HEI LIFE project (Higher Education Institutions Support for International Academics and Staff - Living, Integration, Family, and Employment in Finland). HEI LIFE highlights topics and development needs that are relevant to all higher education and research institutions wanting to attract and retain international academics, staff and their families. A summary of the seminar is available on LinkedIn.

 

All HEI LIFE activities are going well and gathering interest in the Helsinki, Tampere, and Turku regions. Our session with Mothers In Business International and webinars with Empower Wednesday (International Working Women of Finland) were found to be interesting and useful, for instance. A summary of the Inclusion Morning organised with MiB is available online, including a recording of the event.

The new network for international academics and staff at Tampere University has also been a welcome addition to the university's activities. And the recent HEI LIFE Spouse Network's Campus Tour was great way to learn about the participating higher education institutions. The participants enjoyed a fun afternoon touring the HEIs and hearing many stories along the way.

 

HEI LIFE Spouse Network (Helsinki region)

Are you a spouse of an international academic or staff member working in a higher education institution in the capital region of Finland? Click here to join the HEI LIFE Spouse Network! Our upcoming activities include

Monthly Coffee & Chat

Intercultural Communication & Awareness Training

Ruskaretki (autumn foliage walk)

 

Want to know what other international talent programs are available? Check out this summary of the programs by the University of Turku.

HEI LIFE pro­ject over­view

HEI LIFE stands for Higher Education Institutions’ Support for International Academics and Staff – Living, Integration, Family and Employment in Finland.

The project focuses on building national models for Finnish higher education institutions to support the integration of international academics, staff and their families.

The project should produce concrete, practical and adaptable input to:

  • support the retention and integration of international talent and the family,
  • enhance collaboration with cities and regional parties,
  • and increase collaboration with working life and employers in Finland, including encouraging employers to hire international talent.

The approach should be holistic and take into consideration the diversity of both the international talent and Finnish higher education institutions.

The project is funded by the Ministry of Education and Culture, and runs from 1.9.2020 until 31.12.2022.

The project is managed by the University of Helsinki. The activities are divided between the higher education institutions in the capital, Tampere and Turku regions. Each region is in charge of a subproject, focusing on different aspects of integration.

These main goals form the basis for the sub projects:

  • Produce information package for incoming international academics, staff and their families (dubbed national welcome package).
  • Improve the integration of international academics and staff to and in collaboration with the Finnish working life and the innovation ecosystem.
  • Improve the integration of spouses of international academics and staff together with cities, the business sector and NGOs.

The main goals of the project were chosen based on the partner universities' understanding of the current challenges HEIs, academics, staff and families face when working and living in Finland.

Although HEIs already offer a range of services together with the public and private sector, the scope, availability and quality of services differ. In addition, international talents face challenges in integration and finding employment.

The partner HEIs want to develop their integration methods and services by strengthening and creating new ways cooperation as well as enhancing and promoting existing services.

1. Na­tional wel­come pack­age for in­ter­na­tional aca­dem­ics, staff and fam­il­ies

Contact HEI: Tampere University, Raisa Suominen

The national welcome package will include information and material that supports individuals arriving to work for Finnish higher education institutions and their families. The material offers support for:

  • immigration,
  • settling-in and integration,
  • as well as raising cultural awareness within the HEI community. ​

The material supports the information needs of the other two subprojects.

The plan includes a survey of current suitable information and material, needs assessments, development and production of further information and material, user review and feedback. Finalised information and material will available on Finland’s EURAXESS site.

2. In­teg­ra­tion of in­ter­na­tional re­search­ers and staff to Finnish work­ing life and the innovation en­vir­on­ment

Contact HEI: University of Turku, Irinja Paakkanen

The subproject focuses on strengthening company collaboration for international researchers and other staff by piloting a mentoring programme and developing new collaboration models.

One goal is to create a network model for international talent, which would allow the talent to build work-life networks and share experiences and know-how regarding career building and the Finnish working life.

Information needs and creation will be coordinated together with subproject 1.

3. In­teg­ra­tion of the spouses and fam­il­ies of in­ter­na­tional aca­dem­ics and staff into the Finnish society in co­oper­a­tion with cities, busi­ness and NGOs

Contact HEI: University of Helsinki, Kirsi Korhonen

The subproject's goal is to build a service tray with several types of services that Finnish HEIs can create and use to support the integration of spouses and families.

The subproject focuses on creating a variety of services and support models for information, employment and networking.

The HEIs in the capital region of Finland have formed the HEI LIFE Spouse Network to support the spouses of academics and staff in higher education institutions in the capital region. Spouses can join the network by registering via this link.

The overall plans include benchmarking existing services, creation and development of information and material, workshops for e.g. job search, creating work-life connections, and active spouse involvement e.g. through network building.

Collaboration models with cities, business and third sector will be explored and tested fitting to regional and national needs.

Information needs and creation will be coordinated together with subproject 1.

 

The project brings several benefits to the Finnish higher education and research community and ecosystem. The project partners find several benefit objectives, which can be divided to general and those regarding talent attraction and retention.

Gen­eral be­ne­fit ob­ject­ives

  • Bringing the Ministry of Education and Culture’s international strategy to practice
  • Strengthens the link of HEIs and international academics to the national Talent Boost initiative
  • Enhancing the image of Finnish HEIs globally
  • Creating working models for support services

Be­ne­fit ob­ject­ives for tal­ent at­trac­tion

  • Clarify and give a realistic picture of what Higher Education Institutes and Finland can offer
  • Strengthening cooperation between HEIs
  • Facilitating access to information

Be­ne­fit ob­ject­ives for tal­ent re­ten­tion

  • Support integration to the higher education institute, community and Finland in general
  • Strengthening working life and company collaboration
  • Strengthening HEIs’ employer brand

 

The steering committee includes international, academic and HR representatives from higher education institutions in Finland.

The steering group is responsible for ensuring that the project will be able to reach its benefit objectives.

The steering committee supports, steers and monitors the progress of the project. The steering committee also authorizes changes to the project plan and oversees the project through regular reports from the project manager.

Member organisations include Aalto University, Haaga-Helia University of Applied Sciences, Hanken School of Economics, Tampere University, University of the Arts Helsinki, University of Helsinki, University of Oulu and University of Turku. 

The recruitment of top talent to Finnish higher education institutions (HEIs) is hindered by:

  • challenges in integration and finding employment,
  • scattered and scarce support services for spouses,
  • and the uneven quality and availability of services on the national level.

We need more good quality, widely available services, and we would also do well to promote and use the existing services more.

Also, larger-scale collaboration in these matters between HEIs and other key players such as business life and cities would be beneficial for the whole ecosystem. The project partners share a strong will to collaborate and share ideas openly with all project partners, national networks, related public and other services, as well as international researchers and their families.

The universities of Helsinki, Tampere and Turku have strong experience and versatile existing services in talent attraction, retention and integration. In addition, the capital region and Tampere and Turku regions have several HEIs that have useful experience, working practices and good networks to support the success of the project plan.

All project partners are used to collaborating with one another and also in international projects, and are active in several national and international networks such as EURAXESS, Talent Boost, LERU etc. The project partners can guarantee the wide impact of the project, direct access to benchmarking connections and easier pooling of resources, among other things.

HEI LIFE means Higher Education Institutions’ Support for International Academics and Staff – Living, Integration, Family and Employment in Finland.

The goal is to build service models for integration of international staff and families at Finnish higher education institutions and regions.

The partner HEI regions are the Capital region, Tampere and Turku.

HEI LIFE is mainly funded by the Ministry of Education and Culture, University of Helsinki, and University of Turku.

The total funding is 350 000€ (340 000€ from the Ministry). The budget is divided between the three subprojects. The funding period 1.9.2020 – 31.12.2022.

The project manager HEI is the University of Helsinki.

Thank you for the HEI LIFE Seminar!

The HEI LIFE project organised a seminar to discuss the project activities, results, and international talent attraction and retention in higher education and research institutions. 65 people attended the seminar on-site and 99 people watched the stream online, with some participants joining from other countries like Germany and Latvia.

 

In the seminar the project teams presented and discussed the activities and results of the HEI LIFE project (Higher Education Institutions Support for International Academics and Staff - Living, Integration, Family, and Employment in Finland). HEI LIFE highlights topics and development needs that are relevant to all higher education and research institutions wanting to attract and retain international academics, staff and their families. A summary of the seminar is available on LinkedIn.

The project partners have been actively creating and testing services and content to support international academics, staff and their families in the capital, Tampere and Turku regions.

Results to date include webinars, surveys, mentoring, social events, and plenty of connections between organisations and people. Most common activities to date are workshops for international academics or supervisors, informative webinars for international academics and spouses, mentoring meetings, and social activities for spouses. Please see the separate tabs for detailed information on activities in each sub project.

Due to the restrictions related to COVID-19, the project teams, networks and steering committee met mainly online until spring 2022. As of spring 2022 many activities have also been organised face-to-face. The situation will affect the project results to a degree.

HEI LIFE has been promoted online and in several events throughout the project period, including the Talent Boost Newsroom, Talent Boost Summit, International Forum Winter Seminar, EURAXESS BHO meeting, EURAXESS Nordic Training, and EURAXESS Conference 2022.

HEI LIFE was also present at the EAIE 2022 Conference in Barcelona. Our project manager Kirsi Korhonen chaired a session on tools and best practices for talent attraction in higher education. The session speakers were Mark de Vos from the University of Copenhagen (DK) and Jessica Schueller from Miami University (USA).

 

Guide for Peer Support Groups in Higher Education

As part of the results for sub project 2, the University of Turku has published a guide title 'Inclusion into Academic Life - a guide for peer support groups in higher education'. The guide gives practical examples and tools to promote a more welcoming and inclusive environment in HEIS. The guide is available in English online.

The HEI LIFE final seminar took place in Helsinki on 31.8.2022. The seminar programme included overviews of the project activities and results, as well as workshops concerning the main topics. The seminar was in English, free of charge, and open to the public. A summary of the seminar is available on LinkedIn.

Sub project 1 focuses on creating a National Welcome Package. Activities and results to date include:

  • Survey for international academics and staff at Tampere University
  • Workshop international academics and staff on integration into workplace and Finnish society
  • Workshop for supervisors on increasing inclusion in the work culture of the welcoming HEI community
  • Workshops for university community on diverse work teams
  • Launch of network for international academics and staff
  • Creation of material for the welcome package (published later in 2022)
  • Hosting a joint workshop for the HEI LIFE sub project teams on the topic of information material

HEI Contact person: Tampere University, Raisa Suominen (firstname.lastname@tuni.fi)

 

 

 

Sub project 2 focuses on the work life integration of international academics. Activities and results to date include:

  • I-Me-Pro Mentoring pilot
  • Guided peer group counselling
  • Compilation of international talent programs in Finland
  • Training for doctoral thesis supervisors on sustainability and business collaboration in doctoral education
  • Collaboration with other projects, e.g. the MESH project, and Talent Boost network in the Turku region

HEI Contact person: Irinja Paakkanen, University of Turku (firstname.lastname@utu.fi)

 

Sub project 3 focuses on creating a network and support services for spouses of international academics and staff. Activities and results to date include:

  • 80 spouse network members
  • 28 network events
  • Participation in several partner events, e.g. City of Helsinki Spouse Program, City of Espoo Career Club, Familia ry, Mothers in Business, IWWOF
  • Facebook and WhatsApp group for spouse network members
  • Initiating an interview promise for spouse members applying to HEIs
  • Creation of peer network for spouse program coordinators
  • Collaboration with HEI, cities, and NGOs in the capital region, and the Talent Boost Network
  • Hosting a joint workshop for the HEI LIFE sub project teams on the topic of spouse support

HEI Contact person: Kirsi Korhonen, University of Helsinki (firstname.lastname@helsinki.fi)

HEI LIFE activities in 2022 include:

  • Publication of National Welcome Package on the EURAXESS website
  • Meetings for the network of international academics and staff (Tampere)
  • Second round of I-Me-Pro mentoring program (Turku)
  • Publication of Inclusion into Academic Life - a guide for peer support groups in higher education
  • Events for the HEI LIFE spouse network (capital region)
  • Creation of cultural training material
  • HEI LIFE Seminar 31.8.2022
  • Attendance at EAIE 2022 Barcelona and Talent Boost Summit
  • Further promotion of project and collaboration with relevant partners

If you are interested in collaborating with the HEI LIFE partners or hearing more about the project, please contact the project manager or relevant sub project coordinator.

Subproject 1 Coordinator Raisa Suominen, Tampere University (firstname.lastname@tampere.fi)

Subproject 2 Coordinator Irinja Paakkanen, University of Turku (firstname.lastname@utu.fi)

Project Manager & Subproject 3 Coordinator Kirsi Korhonen, University of Helsinki (firstname.lastname@helsinki.fi)

Con­tact infor­mation

News and activities regarding HEI LIFE will be posted on this website. If you are an international academic, staff or family member, and would like to join our activities, follow our updates. We are also keen to collaborate with the public, private and NGO sector. In social media we use #HEILIFE.

The HEI LIFE Spouse Network is open to spouses of academics and HEI staff in the capital region of Finland. Please register for the network via this link.

Should you wish to hear more about the HEI LIFE project or discuss possible collaboration, please do not hesitate to contact the Project Manager Kirsi Korhonen. If you are  particularly interested in a certain sub project, feel free to contact the HEI in charge.

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