Students have an important role in making the university community more international

The University of Vaasa has started a review and development project which aims to enhance international students' integration into the university community and eventually into working life. The focus is on improving the subject associations' readiness for internationality to ensure that the academic community will stay strong as the number of international degree students increases.

International students, subject associations, the student union and the university are mapping out how international students are integrating into the community and working life in a series of workshops. They will also recognize crucial bottlenecks and develop solutions to these challenges. The project is called Extra boost to international collaboration and it supports the university’s strategy that has a strong emphasis on internationalisation. 

– The number of international students will increase which has an influence on the activities of subject associations on  campus in the future. Our mission is, as an academic community, to integrate international talents into Finland. Students’ peer activities play an essential role in integration. It is vital that we work together as a community to implement our strategy, explains Vice Rector Annukka Jokipii the importance of the project.

Männikkömetsä Oy works as an external partner in the project which involves five subject associations: CoMedia, Giga, Hallinnoijat, Tutti and Warrantti. The subject associations have eagerly jumped on the bandwagon.

– The University of Vaasa puts a lot of effort into internationalisation, so the share of international students in Tutti will increase  as well. That’s why we want to acknowledge international students even better and we are happy to participate  in this project together with other associations and the university, says  Eetu Lunteri, the chairman of the subject association Tutti for students in technical sciences.

Internationality to be a part of all daily operations

The ideas of students and subject associations are at the heart of this development project and the goal is ambitious. 

– We strengthen the subject associations’ operation from the perspective of an international student. This has a direct impact on campus and free time activities but also on every student’s skills. These will have useful applications in work life later on.  The goal is that acknowledging internationality is a normal part of students’ everyday activities, says Annukka Jokipii.

Even though all degree programmes don’t have international students yet, subject associations are willing to prepare for the future in good time. Subject associations are looking forward to getting practical support to develop their operations.

– We are looking forward to learning new methods that will  help us ease international students’ integration into  the student community in Vaasa, says Riina Hynönen, the secretary of the subject association CoMedia for communication students.

Getting familiar with the starting point in the first workshops

The first workshops with subject associations were held  at the end of October. The current situation of international operations in the subject associations was discussed as well as the challenges and goals involved. International tutoring was one of the main topics that came up.

– The main takeaway from the first workshop was how to get started with creating international activities and what should be considered  when organising international events! says Laura Karppinen, the advocacy representative of the  subject association Hallinnoijat for students in administrative sciences.

– To name one practical tool presented in the workshop, I would mention a checklist for internationally friendly events which we will apply to our events in the future, adds Eetu Lunteri.

The project continues in January when the subject associations’ new board members and international degree students come together to design internationally friendly operation models for subject associations. During spring, the staff of the University of Vaasa and the student union will participate in their own workshop to implement new ideas.

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