30 students, 27 nationalities- How one master's programme is Changing Education

Since 2017, the university’s International Master’s Programmes have attracted the brightest international students from around the world to study with us. In this article, we explore one of these programmes, Changing Education, the importance of international students at the university and how you can help them.

Started in 2020, the Changing Education Master’s Programme is one of the university’s most innovative and popular International Master’s Programmes. Combining the university’s world-leading education research and the lessons learned from Finland’s coveted education system, the programme is creating the future leaders and change-makers of education- for the world.

There is strength in diversity

However, the programme doesn’t just rely on Finland’s expertise to pioneer the future of education. Currently the programme has 30 students, who amazingly have 27 nationalities between them. This diversity, according to Changing Education programme director Professor Minna Huotilainen, is one of the main strengths and unique features of the programme.

“Our aim is to give educational professionals all the tools required to change the world of education and also be part of creating the future of education. However, if you only work with educators from your own country, you are very much tied to the tradition of that country. Therefore, by having such a diverse classroom, with students and researchers sharing their perspectives from their home countries, we are able to help students to think outside of the box of their national education system.”

Student representative on the Changing Education Programme Steering Group and Student Ambassador, Alicia Noriega, also agreed.

“One of my favourite things about the programme is the amazing “CE Community” we have been able to create with students and staff, despite COVID and the fact this programme is brand new. I feel so lucky to be surrounded by students who have such diverse backgrounds and experiences, which has so many advantages both academically and personally. By having non-EU students on the programme in particular, it has really helped me to recognise and challenge our western euro-centric perspective of education, understand the history of education and have a truly global debate what the future of education should look like.”

COVID-19 hasn't stopped innovation

Despite the challenges post by the COVID-19 pandemic, students on the programme have already formed a close bond and have established the first International Student Association at the University of Helsinki, One Step Ahead. As part of their activities, students have created the Changing Education Platform, which publishes articles, videos and podcasts about ground-breaking research from the programme.

Speaking to the University, Co-Editor of the Changing Education Platform Natalia Stalchenko said

“Our Changing Education online media platform aims to reflect the diversity of educational sciences, bringing together various international perspectives of the dynamic nature of changing education in form of blogs, podcasts, and videos. This platform is the product of a shared passion for promoting accessible and equitable education worldwide by a team of enthusiastic international students: Zoi Vasileiou, Mihaela Nyyssönen, Anita Mezza, Alexandra Biris, and Inka Tähkä. As a co-editor, I am honored to be a part of this team and look forward to see new students joining our project!”

Despite their success, there are still challenges for International Students

Overall, it is clear that the Changing Education Master’s Programme and its students are pioneering the future of education, however, as explained by Professor Huotilainen, more needs to be done to support international students to study at the university.

“The reputation of University of Helsinki and Finland’s education system means we are able to attract the brightest international students from around the world. However, the tuition fees and cost of living in Finland can pose a barrier for non-EU/EEA students. Whilst we have scholarships for the best non-EU students, these are very limited in number. This means every year we lose outstanding international students who we know could contribute to our academic community but simply can’t afford to come.”

Whilst we have made significant progress, we need your support to increase the internationalisation of the university, attract and retain the best international minds and help our international students to succeed in Finland.

Find out more about the Global Scholarship Fund and how you can support international students

How can you help our international students?

The Global Scholarship Fund was established in 2017 to provide full tuition fee scholarships and study grants to non-EU/EEA students studying at the University of Helsinki. Thanks to the generosity of our donors, we have been able to support a number of international students, however we need your support to continue to provide life changing opportunities for the brightest international minds.

In addition to scholarships, there are a number of other opportunities you can support to help international students thrive during their time at university, including mentoring our students, offering traineeships and commissioning master's theses. 

Find out more about the Global Scholarship Fund and how you can support international students.