Follow-up study on the African graduates of Seinäjoki UAS - PDF

Olaitan Fashanu Follow-up study on the African graduates of Seinäjoki UAS Thesis Spring 2015 SeAMK Business and Culture BBA (International Business) SEINÄJOKI UNIVERSITY OF APPLIED SCIENCES 1

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Olaitan Fashanu Follow-up study on the African graduates of Seinäjoki UAS Thesis Spring 2015 SeAMK Business and Culture BBA (International Business) SEINÄJOKI UNIVERSITY OF APPLIED SCIENCES 1 Thesis abstract Faculty: Business and Culture Degree programme: International Business Author: Olaitan Fashanu Title of thesis: Follow-up study on the African graduates of Seinäjoki UAS Supervisor: Päivo Laine Year: 2015 Number of pages: 71 Number of appendices: 2 This study was conducted in order to reveal the current status of graduates of African background of Seinäjoki University of Applied Sciences from 2003 to This was made possible by reviewing the internationalisation strategy of Finnish higher education institutions and the internationalisation policy of Seinäjoki UAS. Moreover, the study also considered the situation regarding the employment of foreigners in the Finnish labour market. Data collection was made possible following the mixed method approach. A total of 25 persons were surveyed while interviews were conducted for 10 persons. The results revealed that 96 % of the respondents still live in Finland in which most of them work in cleaning companies with just a few working in old people s home. The findings can be useful for future student recruitment, curriculum development, policy review and the strengthening of academic programmes. Keywords: Internationalisation strategy, Internationalisation policy, Finnish higher education institutions, Employment, Finnish labour market, Seinäjoki University of applied sciences, African graduates, International students CONTENTS 2 Contents Contents INTRODUCTION EMPLOYMENT SITUATION IN FINLAND Unemployment rates by region Employment of Foreign Students Language skills Networks Foreign language EDUCATION OFFERED IN FINLAND SEINÄJOKI UNIVERSITY OF APPLIED SCIENCES Internationalisation policy of Finnish Higher Education Internationalisation Policy of Seinäjoki University of Applied Sciences Ways of supporting International degree students in Finland global competency and citizenship Projects for the integration and the employment of international students Friend Family Activities Puhu Minulle Suomea Campaign (Talk to me in Finnish) Internship- Working Pair Working life certificate Work for future RESIDING IN FINLAND Legal Issues for residing/permits Opportunities Finland offers to learn Finnish language RESEARCH STRATEGY Survey Interviews Ethical Issues Reliability and Validity Research findings... 35 3 7.1 Survey Interviews Conclusion Suggestion for further research BIBLIOGRAPHY APPENDICES... 68 Tables and Figures 4 Table 1. Seinäjoki University of Applied Sciences Degree programmes Table 2. Action Plan for International Students (Seinäjoki University of Applied Sciences) Table 3. Statistics of Seinäjoki UAS African graduates (Seinäjoki university of applied sciences) Table 4. Study programme (Seinäjoki university of applied sciences) Table 5. Year of graduation (Seinäjoki university of applied sciences) Figure 1 The OECD Better Life Index of countries for (OECD 2015) Figure 2. Rate of unemployment and trend of unemployment rate of persons between ages 15 & 74 from 2005/ /03 (Statistics Finland 2015) Figure 3. Unemployed job seekers in March 2015 in comparison to March 2014 (Centre for Economic Development, Transport and the Environment 2015) 12 Figure 4. Focus Areas (Seinäjoki University of Applied Sciences)... 19 5 Figure 5. Nationality Figure 6. Country of residence Figure 7. Gender Figure 8. Study programme Figure 9. Year of graduation Figure 10. How would you rate your studies in SeAMK? Figure 11. Did you work during your studies? Figure 12. Did you receive any support as an international student in SeAMK? Figure 13. What is your current job status Figure 14. Your future plans... 46 Abbreviations 6 UAS SeAMK University of Applied Sciences Seinäjoen Ammattikorkeakoulu OECD CIMO Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development Centre for International Mobility TE EU ECTS EEA ILO Työ- ja Elinkeinoministeriö European Union European Credit Transfer and Accumulation System European Economic Area International Labour Organization 1 INTRODUCTION 7 Over the years, there has been an influx of foreign students into Finland studying in different higher education institutions as part of the Finnish higher education institutions policy. It is therefore necessary to state that the higher education institutions in Finland are divided into two complementary parts which are: universities and universities of applied sciences (Garam 2009). These institutions of higher learning are scattered across the 19 regions in Finland. One of these institutions is the Seinäjoki University of Applied Sciences located in the western region of Finland. Hence, Seinäjoki University of Applied Sciences (Seinäjoki UAS) has been playing host to a chunk of international students from different countries across the globe. These students who are of different cultural backgrounds are from Africa, Asia, Europe, North America and South America. In the light of this, there is a need to do a follow-up study of the international students who have successfully graduated from the Seinäjoki University of Applied Sciences. Consequently, this study intends to review the major activities of students of African background that completed their studies in Seinäjoki University of Applied Sciences from 2003 to It will cover students from the Nursing programme and as well as the International Business programme. The focal point of this study will be on what has happened to these African students of Seinäjoki UAS after graduation between the periods of year 2003 through This research work will reveal the present situation of these Africans that had the opportunity to grace the university after undergoing moral and academic training in bachelor s degree and Master s degree programmes. In order words, the study will address the questions of their present location, job status as well as their future plans. Relevance of the research 8 Since there is no information available about the status of the former African students of Seinäjoki UAS, there is an urgent need for the university to know the current situation of these graduates from Africa. The findings can be used for the purpose of future student recruitment, curriculum development, policy review and the strengthening of academic programmes. Research Objectives In order to achieve the aim of this study, the following objectives have been designed. 1. To establish the kinds of education Finnish higher education institutions offer to foreign students 2. To identify the kinds of internationalisation policies being offered to foreign students 3. To examine the level of engagement of foreigners in the Finnish labour market 4. To ascertain the current status of African Seinäjoki UAS graduates Scope and Limitations 9 This study covers only students of African origin who have graduated and about to graduate from the business and nursing degree programmes of Seinäjoki University of Applied Sciences between 2003 and There are some limitations to this study. To begin with, the researcher was not provided with data containing details of the graduates for legal reasons. Thus, the participants were picked based on the network of the researcher. Also, some of the interviewees complained about having tight schedule which made it difficult for the researcher to conduct proper interviews for some of the respondents. 2 EMPLOYMENT SITUATION IN FINLAND 10 Finland ranks amongst one of the top countries in the world in terms of the general well-being of its citizens. As a matter of fact, the country was ranked 10th in the rankings of The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Better Life Index for 2015 as indicated in Figure 1. Figure 1. The OECD Better Life Index of countries for 2015 (OECD 2015). These rankings are done annually by the OECD after taking 11 topics into consideration which are housing, income, jobs, community, education, and environment. Others include civic engagement, health, life satisfaction, as well as safety, and work-life balance. This attests to the fact that Finland is one of those countries with better quality of lives of its citizens as shown in figure 1 above. This might be one of the reasons why there has been considerable increase in the population of immigrants in Finland. 11 However, according to the statistics recently released by Statistics Finland s Labour Force Survey in April 2015, the employment rate in March 2015 was 66.8 % which is not different from last year s result for persons between the ages of 15 and 64. The statistics show that 2,382,000 persons are employed which was 10,000 less than 2014 estimates. On the other hand, the unemployment situation in March 2015 according to Statistics Finland s Labour Force Survey shows that 272,000 persons were unemployed which represents 10.3% with 21,000 more people than in Figure 2. Rate of unemployment and trend of unemployment rate of persons between ages 15 & 74 from 2005/ /03 (Statistics Finland 2015). Figure 2 shows that Finland is facing one of the highest unemployment rates in the last 10 years. This is basically due to the bad state of the economy at the moment. The country has been battling with recession in the last 3 years running into its 4 th year. In spite of this, there seems to be some level of optimism that the situation will improve in the next few years. 12 It is therefore pertinent to state that there are two different statistics released every month on the rate of unemployment in Finland. One is released by Statistics Finland s Labour Force Survey based on the criteria recommended by the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and the practices of Eurostat whereas the another one is released by the Employment service statistics of the Ministry of Employment and the Economy based on the information available in the TE offices customer register across the country (Ministry of Employment and the Economy 2014). 2.1 Unemployment rates by region 9% 13% 10% 6% 6% 12% 9% 8% 9% 9% 12% 9% 15% 3% -4% -1% Figure 3. Unemployed job seekers in March 2015 in comparison to March 2014 (Centre for Economic Development, Transport and the Environment 2015). The statistics shown in Figure 3, was for March 2015, which was released in April 2015 by the Employment service statistics of the Ministry of Employment and the Economy. The statistics show that unemployment rate increased elsewhere apart from the Kainuu region (-1 %) when compared to the same period in 2014 March The south Ostrobothnia region manifested a 10 % increase in unemployment while the highest increase was recorded in the Uusimaa region (15%). 2.2 Employment of Foreign Students 13 Most students coming to study in Finland especially from Africa and Asia usually have high hopes of getting jobs in Finland during and after studies mostly due to its high standard of living. This notion is supported by CIMO (2015) which states that more than 70% of foreign students in Finland usually consider the possibility of getting a job during and after their studies as an important factor for coming to study. While in Finland, most foreign students search for part-time jobs such as cleaning, dishwashing, and delivery work in Posti since these kinds of jobs do not necessarily require Finnish language skills. But interestingly, the majority of students still continue with these low-paid jobs even after studies partly due to the lack of jobs in their various fields of study or the quest to remain in Finland. Just recently, a new rule came into force which will allow non-eu students to apply for one-year temporary residence permit extension in order to search for employment in Finland (Study in Finland 2015). Going by this new rule, non-eu students are expected to search for jobs within a 'grace period' of up to one year. With this, foreign students have no choice but to take any jobs available in order to secure their living and residence in Finland. In principle, jobs in these sectors have literally been abandoned by Finns for foreign nationals. This view is also supported by Könönen (2014) who says that the conditionality of rights and residence has a negative impact on migrants' bargaining power in the labour market and restricts their possibilities for an independent life. It is common knowledge now that Africans are being identified with a particular cleaning company due to their presence in this particular company. Despite their presence, service and commitments to these 'low paid' cleaning company jobs, these African workers have been shortchanged by some of the administrators of these companies through unfair treatments and exploitations. Even some of the work contracts given to these foreigners are nothing to write home about. These contracts include the 0 25 hours/week contract which basically means that someone could be under this type of 'contract' in one month without pay. There are also cases when some of these foreigners are being owed or not paid at all. 14 It is also necessary to point out that some of the employers do undermine the status of their workers being students thereby giving them jobs to do during school hours. Although these employers are encouraged by the attitudes and actions of these foreign students informing them of their availability for work any time even during school hours, they ought to discourage it and stop giving them jobs during school hours. This action causes a lot of distractions to students. However, there are two factors that can help to influence the employability of foreign students in Finland (CIMO 2015). These factors are language skills and networks Language skills Language skills are critical and important when searching for jobs. This is so because no effective communication can take place without the necessary language skills. Language skills can go a long way in determining the success and failure of job seekers. When someone is seeking a job, additional language skills could increase the chances of that person getting the job. Most employers are always interested in jobseekers who have the ability to speak two or more languages. There are more people of different cultural backgrounds working in different organisations in different parts of the world now. Thus, jobseekers with multi-lingual skills are always favoured to land jobs in places like that. Besides, being able to speak the official language wherever someone finds themselves will definitely open doors and create possibilities to integrate properly in the society. Foreign students with good knowledge of the Finnish language usually have the possibility of securing jobs after graduation. Their level of the language can make them a bit more competitive and increase their chances in the labour market. Since most companies use Finnish as their working language, convincing an employer will definitely require some amount of Finnish skills. This goes to show someone s level of integration and understanding of the Finnish culture. 15 Alho (2010) posited in his article that, Finns have a strong sense of national identity. This is significantly obvious in the way Finns express themselves. They are proud of their culture (language). Thus, they expect foreigners to show a sign of respect for their culture by learning their language. Finns don t expect a foreigner to speak the language perfectly as they often claim the language is difficult. All what is expected of a foreigner is to be able to use the language to communicate to some extent for survival in the society. The illusion that foreign students usually have after securing a part-time job while studying that they could survive without the language in Finland is misleading and tantamount to self-inflicted relegation status in the society. Although the major barrier is not the language, foreign students should endeavour to learn the language so as to boost their chances and job status Networks As rightly pointed out by CIMO (2015), building networks serves as an important factor in getting a place to work in Finland. The number of networks you build, determines your chances. These networks can be built during studies especially for students of Universities of Applied Sciences. The 5 months internship programme or thereabout could serve as a starting point for building networks. There are also other possibilities of building social networks outside school which can be utilised for this purpose. Foreign students, especially African students who have found themselves in a place like Finland should have it at the back of their minds that the possibility of getting a job will to a great extent depend on the 'networks' they have built. Finns do exhibit some form of skepticism with regards to things they are not used to. In addition, previous studies have also shown that student s background, level of study, field of study as well as labour market situation can influence their employability. 16 Most of the international graduates that got employed in their field of study after graduation are those in the social and healthcare sector; the majority of them are Africans and Asians. This might be due to the need for more workers in the sector. Certainly, this is somewhat better than the situation with their counterparts from the business schools. 3 FOREIGN LANGUAGE EDUCATION OFFERED IN FINLAND The internationalisation policy of the Finnish higher education is centred on providing education and training in a foreign language. However, this policy dates back to the late 1980s when the focus was basically on student exchange. During that time, according to Garam (2009), it was observed that the number of students coming to Finland were not as much as the number of students going abroad due to the fact that there were no courses taught in foreign languages. Consequently, this set the agenda for a policy review by the Ministry of Education to usher in courses taught in English. This also led to the introduction of foreign languagetaught programmes in the Finnish universities of applied sciences which came into existence in the early 1990s. Soon after that, the focus was not just on student exchange alone but for the need to attract international students to study degree programmes in Finnish higher education institutions (Garam 2009). Presently, there are over 500 programmes studied in English in Finnish higher education institutions (Study in Finland 2015). These programmes fall under the following categories: 1. Erasmus and other exchange programmes 2. Bachelor s studies 3. Master s studies Doctoral studies For the avoidance of doubt, according to CIMO (2014), Universities and Universities of Applied Sciences (UAS) are the bodies saddled with the responsibility for providing higher education in Finland. Universities deal with the promotion of research and academic education while UASs offer professional higher education closely tied with working life. There are 24 UASs (polytechnics) offering bachelor s degree programmes which last for 3.5 years (210ECTS) 4.5 years (270ECTS) and master s degree programmes for years (60ECTS 90ECTS) depending on the study programme. In Finnish UASs, there are about 100 bachelor s degree programmes and 20 master s degree programmes taught in English (Study in Finland 2015). At the moment, there are 14 universities in Finland offering bachelor s degree programmes for 3 years (180ECTS), master s degree programmes for 2 years (120ECTS) and doctoral degree programmes for 4 years (240ECTS). There are about 200 master s degree programmes in English studied in Finnish universities as well as about 23 special doctoral programmes in English (Study in Finland 2015). Foreign students who wish to study in Finland can also apply through the Erasmus Mundus Joint Degree programmes which are funded by the European Union (EU). Students will have the opportunity
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