Education and integration of immigrants is being developed - Metropolia continues in Supporting Immigrants in Higher Education (SIMHE) project

23.02.2017

Minister Sanni Grahn-Laasonen (left) and Metropolia's Heidi Stenberg (middle) and Riitta Konkola (right).

Heidi Stenberg sums up the first year of the SIMHE-project.

A working group at the Ministry of Education and Culture proposes over 40 new measures to respond to the educational needs created by the growth in the number of asylum seekers and immigrants. The final report of the working group was submitted to the Minister of Education and Culture Sanni Grahn-Laasonen on the 15 February 2017 at Metropolia University of Applied Sciences. After submitting the report, students and job-seekers with immigrant-background were able to discuss with the minister, and she also paid a visit to a lecture for international Electronics degree programme.

The educational tracks and integration of immigrants - problematic areas and proposals for actions report emphasizes the following

  •  measures to strengthen the Finnish and Swedish skills
  • increasing cultural integration and the sense of community
  • measures to improve the learning outcomes of immigrants and immigrant-backgrounded persons
  • improving recognizing of competences, counselling and guidance.

“It is difficult to integrate into the Finnish society without knowing the language. We must make language learning a part of all education, especially in vocational education and training and on-the-job learning. Students must be able to learn the language while they learn other skills, otherwise their paths to education and further to working life will become too long. This requires changes in both attitudes and practices,” said Minister of Education and Culture, Sanni Grahn-Laasonen.

The Minister also took a stand on cultural conflicts, noting that hate speech and racism have increased for example on the internet.

“The attitudes have become harder. They do not belong in a civilized society. The means of education, culture, youth work and physical exercise are used to prevent hate speech and racism in the Meaningful in Finland action plan by the Ministry of Education and Culture. I challenge the municipalities, schools, pupil, student and youth organisations and other organisations to join in this work.”

The working group’s report also discusses the progress, current state and implementation of the measures proposed in the working group’s interim report. There has been progress on several fronts: the reform of adult basic education is advancing swiftly, higher education institutions are supporting immigrants in education, and a programme on integrating Finnish and/or Swedish language studies into vocational education is being launched in the vocational level.

More higher education institutions to support immigrants in higher education

The working group also proposes further development on the work to reinforce the role of Finnish higher education institutions in supporting the integration of immigrants. The work aims to promote access to education for immigrants and asylum seekers who have completed previous studies in higher education or who are eligible to apply for higher education.

From year 2017 onwards, Metropolia UAS, University of Jyväskylä, University of Helsinki, Karelia UAS, Oulu UAS and University of Turku will be taking part in Supporting Immigrants in Higher Education (SIMHE) project through strategy-based funding for higher education institutions.

The SIMHE services started as a pilot project in Metropolia in spring 2016. According to Heidi Stenberg, the project director of the SIMHE services, immigrants who are eligible to apply for higher education, or who have a degree in higher education, share a very heterogeneous background.

“During the first year, we have met almost 300 customers, representing over 20 different nationalities, and recognized many different competences and needs for development. Now we acknowledge better which services and educational paths benefit our customers the most. This knowledge helps us to implement paths that are the most meaningful both for the individuals and for the society”, Stenberg sums up.

Heidi Stenberg emphasises that getting employed with a foreign degree is challenging due to the need of knowing Finnish language, but also because of lack of Finnish references and networks.

“We have created the recognition of competences service as a solution to this problem. With this service, the customer obtains better understanding on which complementary studies are needed to get employment, while getting a Finnish reference on the competences simultaneously. Customers are also welcome to join Metropolia’s work-life and student networks”, Stenberg continues.

The final report (in Finnish) (15.2.2017)
The interim report (4.2.2016)

Further information on the Ministry’s report
Ministry of Education and Culture
Chair of the Working Group, Director
Kirsi Kangaspunta
kirsi.kangaspunta(at)minedu.fi
tel. 0295 330136

Further information on the higher education institutions supporting immigrants
Ministry of Education and Culture
Secretary of the Working Group, Senior Advisor
Kaisu Piiroinen
kaisu-maria.piiroinen(at)minedu.fi
tel. 0295 330359

Further information on the SIMHE-Metropolia services
Metropolia University of Applied Sciences
SIMHE-Metropolia, Project Director
Heidi Stenberg
heidi.stenberg(at)metropolia.fi
tel. 040 535 3388


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