Getting international

By Johanna Sarriola / Translation: Richard Foley / Photos: Arto Liiti

The University of Lapland has some one hundred international students who plan to complete a degree, with most taking programmes in art and design or the social sciences. Plans call for doubling this number in the next couple of years. The keys to achieving this ambition include more international master’s programmes and more teaching in English.

Waqas Ahmed has been in the Comparative Social Work programme for a good year now.

“I have a degree in social work from Pakistan already but I wanted to go abroad to continue my studies in order to get more experience and better job opportunities.”

He looked into what universities in different countries were offering and ultimately applied for a place in Finland when a friend suggested it. He wanted to study in a welfare state, but could not have afforded high tuition fees.

He originally wanted to start his degree in the autumn of 2009, but getting a visa and residence permit took quite a bit of time.

“The University promised me I could come later. None of my friends could believe it, but that was what happened.”

High-quality teaching and research

Waqas would also like to complete a doctorate in Rovaniemi. He said he is surprised at the high quality of teaching and research in Finland.

“I have had a chance to explore new theories and the latest research in the field. The strength of the programme is its comparative perspective.”

Most of the degree work is done on the net.

“This approach suits me well and is a good way to learn. I also like the fact that here in Finland the essays and exams required are spread out over the entire academic year.”

“In addition, the people responsible for teaching social work in the Faculty have helped me with everything imaginable. I am starting to feel more at home here and have made new friends. I am very glad I didn’t give up even though things were difficult at first.”

In the future, Waqas would like to work with immigrants.

At home in global social work

The first two-year master’s programme in Comparative Social Work began in the autumn of 2009. Lecturer Heli Niemi reports that the degree programme was planned and is being implemented in collaboration with the Russian universities in the Barents Region.

“Five students began the programme in Finland and ten in Russia – fewer overall than anticipated.”

Next autumn a second group will begin the programme; the application deadline closed at the beginning of the year. According to Heli Niemi, the strength of the international master’s programme lies in the opportunities students have to familiarise themselves with the practices in different countries.

“The degree prepares students for international duties and gives them an understanding of global social work. The need for international experts in the field will only increase in the future”, Niemi notes.

Applications are now being accepted for the following programmes:

  • Bachelor’s Degree in Political Sciences:
    Application period:
    7 Mar - 12 Apr 2011 (4:15 pm Finnish time (GMT +2))
  • European Master in Arts, Culture and International Management:
    Application period:
    18 Feb - 14 Apr 2011
  • Applications are accepted throughout the academic year for the doctoral studies in the Faculties of Art and Design, Education, Law, and Social Sciences.
  • Application procedures: www.ulapland.fi/admissions
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