Written by the group Punavihreät
Promoting internationalisation of education has been one of the main goals of UH during the past years and to serve this purpose the University has renewed its Master’s and doctoral programmes. This has led to large-scale curriculum reforms, but at the same time there has been surprisingly little discussion about the reasons why internationalisation of education is important at UH.
We made a search to uncover these reasons. First, we learned that UH has no separate unit or action plan for international affairs, but integrates internationalisation into all its operations, including teaching. For example, the European Association for International Education EAIE granted the UH with an award for its efforts in mainstreaming internationalisation in 2013.1
We also learned that UH is a part of a unique alliance, UNA Europa, which consists of eight European universities. The aim of the alliance is to create a university of Europe, with initiatives seeking to broaden collaboration between the members. Collaboration consists of for example future joint Bachelor and Doctorate degrees. This again dates back to the Bologna process in 1999 when European education systems were transformed to be more comparable.2
Internationalisation can also be seen as an integral a part of UH’s language policy. It is stated that by formulating a policy, UH meets the challenges that internationalisation brings. By strengthening the role of English, UH is expected to become an attractive destination to both international students as well teachers and researchers.3
Furthermore, UH has published a global impact brochure that includes goals for internationalisation as a global university 2017-2020.4 The brochure frames internationalisation as a task and positive challenge for everyone at UH and provides some reasons for internationalisation of education. These reasons are in line with the goals set for internationalisation by the Finnish Ministry of Education and Culture.5 The reasons given were that the internationalisation of education
(1) improves student experience and provide opportunities for innovative learning,
(2) brings together people from different backgrounds to enrich teaching and learning,
(3) offers attractive employability skills needed in the global job markets,
(4) attracts the best students from all over the world,
(5) enhances UH global profile.
To sum up, the efforts taken strive to the idea of not only UH but also Finland to become more attracting internationally in general. It should be noted that internationalisation itself is not a goal, but it is a means to increase quality.
However, these reasons provide no answer to “how” questions we had in mind: How does internationalisation of education enrich teaching and learning, attract the best students, improve experiences or enhance the UH’s profile? Can UH reach these goals just by focusing on quantitative results, i.e. having an increasing number of students from abroad and sending our students abroad?
It also seems that what is missing is reciprocity. Finland has a world-renowned education system. Should we also be focusing on what Finland has to offer instead of becoming more international, more “European”?
1 University of Helsinki/News/News and press releases: University awarded for internationalisation. https://www.helsinki.fi/en/news/higher-education-science-policy/university-awarded-for-internationalisation
2 UNA Europa. https://www.una-europa.eu/about
3 Helsingin yliopiston kieliperiaatteet. https://helda.helsinki.fi/bitstream/handle/10138/160446/HY332282.pdf?sequence=1&isAllowed=y
4 University of Helsinki: Global impact brochure. https://www.helsinki.fi/sites/default/files/atoms/files/hy_globalimpact.pdf
5 Opetus- ja kulttuuriministeriö. Yhteistyössä maailman parasta. Suomalaisen korkeakoulutuksen ja tutkimuksen kansainvälisyyden edistämisen linjaukset 2017–2025. https://minedu.fi/documents/1410845/4154572/YMP-fi-net.pdf/1c25633b-069f-4969-bdda-16566b410a84/YMP-fi-net.pdf