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Simhe service supports immigrants’ higher education studies

Published on 27.4.2020
Tampere University of Applied Sciences
Kuvituskuvassa omena
Tampere Universities have started Simhe (Supporting Immigrants in Higher Education in Finland) counselling and guidance service for immigrants. The service pilot aims at offering immigrants a smoother entry into higher education and a permanent counselling service. The Tampere Universities community belongs to the national Simhe cooperation group and is one of its coordinators.

The Simhe service offers support and information on educational choices, continuing education possibilities and language and study skills requirements.

“Help for application to higher education has also earlier been available in many places, for example in admissions services. Now we are however building a service which offers both personal counselling and preparatory studies. The service is a part of the immigrant work network in the Tampere Region. It aims at developing regional services comprehensively,” says Heli Tiitinen from the KORKO project, which funds the pilot.

There is already demand for counselling

When the number of immigrants increases, the need for offering smoother recognition of prior learning and orientation to higher education also increases.

The counselling pilot started in January. At the moment, counselling is offered remotely through a videoconference service. When the situation allows, appointments will be available in different campuses, in the university and university of applied sciences. So far, the service has had around twenty customers.

“We have been contacted through different networks and information on the service has also spread through the bush telegraph. Having a plan or at least belief in different possibilities empowers many customers. Plans often become clearer when they are considered with counselling experts of the higher education institution. The possibility has clearly been missed and it is valued,” tells Tiitinen.

KORKO project in the background

The Ministry of Education and Culture’s KORKO project, which funds the pilot, is a joint project of Tampere Universities in the Tampere Region and especially in the city of Tampere. Its aim is to offer immigrants a smoother entry into higher education and improve their abilities to complete the studies.

“To achieve the objective, we will establish a permanent Simhe service in Tampere Universities during the project (2019–2020). The service will include personal counselling, a website and preparatory studies,” Tiitinen tells.

The guidance, counselling and teaching staff’s competence is strengthened by organising education on for example cultural and language awareness. Education is also offered to other actors in the Tampere Region.

The KORKO project is administered and coordinated by Tampere University of Applied Sciences. The project is funded by the Ministry of Education and Culture. TAMK’s School of Pedagogical Innovations are in charge of its implementation. TAMK creates the Simhe service and Tampere University develops the Finnish language courses. Experts from the Faculties of Education and Culture and Information Technology and Communication Sciences participate in the project.

“The pilot preparatory studies are Finnish language courses which aim at the skills level needed in Finnish-language higher education studies. Other academic skills have also been integrated into the courses. Such advanced Finnish language courses are rarely available.”

Text: Emmi Rämö

Further information: project manager Heli Tiitinen, simhe [at]  

Higher education institutions’ Simhe services:
KORKO project: