Transparency = honesty = ability to be heard.
Last week, we met several international students from the University of Oulu and discussed what difficulties they have faced during their studies, and how Covid-19 affected their learning.
The biggest concerns expressed by the second-year students were related to internship and graduation. During the first year, they had to find an internship but for many people it was difficult.
«As a workload at the programs, in general, is depleted, we had 1,5 years of very intensive courses… You cannot take all of your studies if you have to work.»
With overall studying overload, students felt very tired and exhausted. Some of them could find an internship only abroad but couldn’t go there because of the restrictions. Many students had to find internship and graduate at the same time during this year.
«Finnish residents and EU-citizens don’t have this stress. They have 4 years of study rights. All non-EU citizens are very stressed. Now, we receive a scholarship for two years but for the third year, the tuition is 12 000 euros.» Non-EU students have a huge pressure to finish in time. «In our group, we’ve talked a lot about equality, equity and justice. It’s very natural in a very difficult situation when international students have to pay higher tuition, don’t have a job, can’t go back home, and don’t have family support… When it comes to studying extension, it’s not considered.»
These students shared their concerns about the lack of transparency. They claimed that international students are not aware of many things which are happening at the University.
«We receive lots of emails which are written only in Finnish. Very important Wellbeing workshops were offered only in Finnish. When you, as an international student, feel that you are treated not equally, you get more anxious, stressed and frustrated.»
Students shared the feelings that sometimes, «We care about international students» sounds like a slogan and stays on paper.
«I think that our faculty empathise with international students, but we don’t actually feel that the faculty is on our side. And the staff members have to follow the regulations, so it’s very difficult if you demand anything…International students have less rights than Finnish, but the non-EU students have even less rights.» - said the student from China.
#Entre team understands that the University of Oulu has to follow general EU-regulations and the regulations of the Ministry of Education and Culture of Finland. We know that you cannot change the situation with tuition fees. But we hope that there is a chance for building a transparent dialogue between the administration and the students! We hope that students’ frustrations could be taken into consideration.
Entre#Oulu project was created to shorten the gap between organisations and people. We want to build a safe space for everyone to be heard. Sometimes, people are not aware that there is actual support, they just don’t know where to get it. Especially it applies to those people who just came to Oulu.
Almost a month ago, we had an interview with Angela Soursa, International Student Career Guide at the University of Oulu and OAMK. We will post it very soon. We hope that it will help international students to be more aware of the directions and programs that already exist or will be soon implemented!