How to take International Students better in to the community

[ENG] The Faculty of Science is facing a new era with the International Students during fall 2019, when the Bachelor’s Programme in Science starts. There has already been an increasing number of International Students at the Kumpula Campus, so supporting them becomes all more important. A report about the Integration of International Students has been made during the academic year 2018-2019. This blog post is about the suggestions made out of that report for different groups around Kumpula Campus about the actions they could take in order to help the International Students integrate better into the community.

[FI] Matemaattis-luonnontieteellinen tiedekunta kohtaa uuden aikakauden ensi syksynä, kun ensimmäinen kansainvälinen kandiohjelma Bachelor’s Programme in Science käynnistyy. Kumpulan kampuksella on ollut ennaltaan jo kasvava määrä kansainvälisiä opiskelijoita, joten tämän muutoksen myötä heidän tukeminen tulee entistä tärkeämmäksi. Lukuvuoden 2018-2019 aikana on tehty raportti Kumpulan kansainvälisten opiskelijoiden integroitumisesta yliopistoyhteisöön. Tässä blogikirjoituksessa esitellään toimintaehdotuksia eri tahoille. Toimintaehdotusten tavoitteena on auttaa kansainvälisiä opiskelijoita integroitumaan paremmin yliopistoyhteisön eri tahoihin.

PROPOSALS OF HOW TO TAKE INTERNATIONAL STUDENTS BETTER INTO THE KUMPULA CAMPUS COMMUNITY

Proposals are combined out of interviews with International Master’s students and conversations with the Master’s Programme executive boards.

SOME COMMON NOTES AND BACKGROUND

  • The background of the International student has a strong influence on how they take in the culture shock. Some need more support than others.
  • Finnish Student Organization culture differs from most countries. The big role of them in networking should be emphasized from the very beginning.
  • Bravery to get involved with new people is needed from everyone – not only from the new International Student.
  • Cooperation between different groups is strongly encouraged (executive boards, students, tutors, student organizations, …).
  • Basically the big picture is working fine (such as housing services from HOAS, Welcome Fair, Finnish authorities,…).

WHAT COULD THE DEGREE PROGRAMMES AND COURSES DO?

  • Since Students are extremely busy with their studies (and possibly with work) some of them don’t feel like they have time to participate any student events. Therefore it would be extremely important that the programmes tried to integrate some grouping/teaming up within their info sessions or courses (etc.) in the beginning. Here are some ideas of how it could be done:
    1. Group work with mixed teams in some compulsory courses.
    2. Some regular meetings with the students of different topics (for example like Data Science fest does it).
    3. Regular coffee hours with students and the staff.
    4. Weekly/Monthly lunch hours with students.
    5. Other cooperation with student organizations and tutors – make contact with them and generate new ideas!
  • Info sessions in the beginning should explain everything very thoroughtly and provide the information later on to the students so they can review it. The background of the students vary so much that you can’t really expect them to know even the “obvious” things, such as:
    1. The idea of periodic academic year.
    2. What means that “you have to get 15 credits per period”.
  • Take into account that the skills with computers within new International Students might vary a lot.
  • The courses that are held in English should consider these things:
    1. If the course includes only one English speaking student and others speak Finnish, think twice about asking “is there anyone in english?”. That situation makes the only international student feel uncomfortable and outside. There can also be some Finnish speaking students who would like to have the teaching in English as they are completing an English language degree.
    2. If any student asks a question in Finnish during a lecture or exercise session please make sure to translate the question and answer in English so that everyone understands. Even better – encourage the student to ask the same question again in English.
  • Make sure your programme presents the research topics of that field of study to the new students somehow in the beginning.

WHAT COULD  STUDENT ORGANIZATIONS DO?

  • Student organizations should introduce themselves in the very beginning also to the Master’s Programmes – in English of course. Make contact with the Master’s programmes or tutors and ask for cooperation with this!
  • Student organizations could arrange an international night for international-minded students in the beginning of fall. If could be advertised at least in
    1. Welcome Fair.
    2. Science Bazar.
  • Remember advertising always also in English.
  • Student organizations could create events, that are purely only in English. Event could be advertised only in English and the spoken language at the event would be English.
  • Kumpula Science International is a student organization in Kumpula that works in English. Consider making cooperation with them!

WHAT COULD TUTORS DO?

  • Make sure you meet up with you group of freshmen more than once. Try your everything to keep everyone with you – the Finnish and the International!
  • Think about taking your freshmen into Freshman Adventure (Fuksiseikkailu) organized by HYY.
  • Think about organizing a “get-together” with the older students and possibly even with the staff. It could be a coffee hour at the campus or a night out somewhere else.
  • Check out the basic computer skills of your freshman and provide some deeper guidance if you notice the skills are a bit poor.
    1. Moodle, WebOodi and all other sites mix up easily within each other if the basic knowledge about information technology is poor.
  • Very important: make sure your freshmen in Master’s Programmes get involved also with other than exchange students! If they make friends with exchange students only, they are left alone after a half a year when the exchange students leave Finland.

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