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

Welcome to the HEI LIFE Seminar on 31.8.2022!

The University of Helsinki, Tampere University and University of Turku, and partner HEIs are pleased to invite you to the HEI LIFE Seminar. Come join us for an afternoon of discussion and practical examples on supporting the relocation and integration of international academics, staff, and families into the higher education and research communities and society in Finland.

The event takes place in the Think Corner in Helsinki 13 - 17 o'clock on Wednesday 31.8.2022. The event is free of charge and in English. Please register for the event via this form HEI LIFE Seminar (lyyti.fi)

In the seminar we will present and discuss 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. The programme is divided into two parts: 1. Project presentations (hybrid) and 2. Workshop (onsite only). Further information

NB! Registration deadline for onsite attendance (workshops) is Tuesday 23.8. Registration deadline for online attendance (general presentations only) is Tuesday 30.8.

 

All HEI LIFE activities are going well and gathering interest in the Helsinki, Tampere, and Turku regions. Our recent 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

Well-being from an international spouse perspective

Intercultural Communication & Awareness Training

 

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.

Welcome to the HEI LIFE Seminar 31.8.2022!

The University of Helsinki, Tampere University and University of Turku, and partner HEIs are pleased to invite you to the HEI LIFE Seminar. Come join us for an afternoon of discussion and practical examples on supporting the relocation and integration of international academics, staff, and families into the higher education and research communities and society in Finland.

The event takes place in the Think Corner in Helsinki 13 - 17 o'clock on Wednesday 31.8.2022. The event is free of charge and in English.

In the seminar we will present and discuss 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.

The project focuses on building national models for Finnish higher education institutions to support the integration of international academics, staff, and their families. With the sub projects, the HEIs aim to produce concrete, practical, and adaptable input to

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

The project activities and results will be presented on a general level on the Stage, followed by a Q&A session. This part of the programme is streamed for the online audience.

The sub projects will be further highlighted in the workshops after the general program. This part of the programme is only for participants joining us onsite. Please indicate your preferred workshop in the registration form. The topics of the workshops are:

  • National Welcome Package for international academics, staff, and families
  • In­teg­ra­tion of in­ter­na­tional re­search­ers and staff to Finnish work­ing life and the innovation en­vir­on­ment
  • In­teg­ra­tion of the spouses and fam­il­ies of in­ter­na­tional aca­dem­ics and staff into the Finnish society in co­oper­a­tion with cities, busi­ness, and NGOs

You can read more about the sub projects on this website. We will do our best to secure you a spot in the workshop of your choice. Each workshop has approximately 30 spots. Spots are allocated on a first come first served basis.

Programme:

13.00-14.45 on the Stage (streaming available)

Welcome words

Keynote on the importance of internationalisation, diversity, and inclusion in higher education and research in Finland

Overview of the HEI LIFE project

Subproject presentations

Thoughts and experiences from the international academics and spouses

Q&A

Networking break

15.15-17 at Think Lounge and Fönster (onsite only)

Subproject workshops i.e. further examples of what HEI LIFE was all about

1. Supporting the relocation and integration of international academics, staff, and families to Finland and the higher education community

2. Supporting the work life integration of international academics and staff e.g. through mentoring and work life connections

3. Supporting the welcoming, inclusion, and networking of the spouses of international academics and staff e.g. through the HEI LIFE Spouse Network

17 Event ends

 

Click here to register for the seminar. Upon registration, please indicate if you are joining us onsite or online. Please note that for onsite attendance, the deadline for registration is Tuesday 23.8.2022. For online attendance (general presentations only), the deadline is Tuesday 30.8.2022. The streaming link will be sent to all registered participants later.

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 will also be present at the EAIE 2022 Conference in Barcelona 13.-16.9.2022. Our project manager Kirsi Korhonen will be chairing a session on tools and best practices for talent attraction in higher education. The session speakers are Mark de Vos from the University of Copenhagen (DK) and Jessica Schueller from Miami University (USA).

The HEI LIFE final seminar will take place in Helsinki on 31.8.2022. The seminar will include overviews of the project activities and results, as well as workshops concerning the main topics. The seminar is in English, free of charge, and open to the public. See this section for further information.

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)

All sub projects have plans for several activities in 2022, especially for the spring and summer. Activities 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)
  • HEI LIFE Sub Projects Joint Meeting
  • Meetings for the HEI LIFE spouse network (capital region) with a focus on quality employment
  • Creation of cultural training material
  • HEI LIFE Seminar 31.8.2022
  • 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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