HEI LIFE has an impact on international talent attraction for Finnish HEIs
There is an evident need to attract international talents to Finland, and numerous projects have been developed across the country to both identify difficulties and develop solutions to support international talents. In recent years, there has been a lot of talk about the importance of inclusion and integration of international talents in Finnish society.
Tampere Universities community is a proud partner in HEI LIFE, a project that aims to improve the integration of international academics, staff, and spouses in Finnish Higher Education Institutions. Following the Ministry of Education and Culture’s strategic goals for increasing the numbers of international staff, the project focuses on providing concrete models to support Finnish HEIs with integration and inclusion of international staff and their families.
“Inclusion is everyone’s business; we can have projects and conduct research, but in the end, it is down to each of us in the academic community to create an environment of inclusion,” comments Kirsi Korhonen, HEI LIFE Project Manager.
HEI LIFE subprojects provide focused outcomes
The goals of the project have been carefully chosen based on the project partners’ understanding of the current challenges faced by international academics and staff when working and living in Finland.
Each partner university has been working on a subproject. The Tampere Universities community has developed a National Welcome Package for international academics and staff. The package contains necessary information concerning moving to and arriving in Finland, as well as information on Finnish culture and tips on learning the language. The University of Turku has focused on the integration of international researchers and staff into Finnish working life and the innovation environment. The HEIs in the capital region, led by the University of Helsinki, have created a service tray with various services for supporting the integration of the spouses into Finnish society in cooperation with cities, businesses and NGOs.
“Throughout the project, we’ve been seeing integration as a two-way process: the international talent enters a new culture and the team that receives them creates a welcoming environment, and together they create a shared third culture. Both parties take a step forward to meet each other in the middle,” comments Raisa Suominen, HEI LIFE Subproject Coordinator for Tampere Universities community.
Moreover, the Tampere Universities community built a model for a network that creates an environment for peer support amongst the international staff and academics. Through the network, staff can exchange experiences and help each other settle in their new environment.
“Currently, there are a lot of projects done by Finns to help the immigrants. A step further would be to open the floor for the international staff too,” emphasizes Krista Merikoski, HEI LIFE subproject representative at TAMK.
HEI LIFE Seminar
The HEI LIFE project held a seminar at Think Corner in Helsinki on 31 August 2022. The recording is available until mid-September via this link.
The international academics, staff, and spouses have also had an opportunity to engage in the project and provide valuable input throughout the process.
“People want actions and not just words. They don’t want to be just an audience, but they are actively engaging in the activities we have created,” concludes Kirsi Korhonen.
Later this year a PDF guidebook dubbed the National Welcome Package, created by the Tampere Universities community, will be available on the EURAXESS Finland website along with material created in the two other subprojects.
Text: Dimitra Panopoulou-Huovila
Photographs: Krista Merikoski