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Finnish higher education – take a leap of faith!

This week Sami Puttonen tells why education export has the potential to become a new major industry in Finland.

Starting from 2017 the Finnish government has decided to implement tuition fees for non-EU/EEA students. This issue has divided people, as some see it as a threat and some see it as an opportunity. I believe that education export has the potential to become a new major industry in Finland.

For example, New Zealand, which has around the same population as Finland, has been able to turn education into its fourth biggest export industry worth approximately 2.73 billion euros. In the US context, there is also the ‘tiger mom’ phenomenon where a parent often moves with their enrolled offspring, and the resultant investments in property and local businesses pours billions of dollars into the US economy.

And why is now the time for Finland? Let’s take a look at the global world, where Trump wants to build a wall in the US and the UK is headed for Brexit. Both measures aim to restrict foreigners. These two countries have traditionally been among the top destinations for studying abroad. As a result, there will be now certainly be students looking at other places to go study, and we don’t want to be left out from this flow.

We have so many good things here in Finland, like clean air and water, which we might feel are so obvious that we don’t even realise they are significant drawcards. We are also a safe country to study and then after which, start a family. Now, we just have to use these strengths as possibilities.

It is important to note that the key is not just to attract, but also integrate international students to remain in Finland. We really need to think about this. How can we make the nation support international talents to stay after they have finished their degree, to find work, start their own companies, do research etc?

This is a solution that would benefit all aspects of Finnish society, from education providers to companies, to the students themselves.

Published on 16.02.2017