Highly educated immigrants possess prior competences and education, but these are not currently acknowledged and recognised sufficiently. Thus, methods and processes for recognition of prior learning should be improved and increased. Steering group for Supporting Immigrants in Higher Education in Finland (SIMHE) project handed over its report to Minister of Education and Culture, Sanni Grahn-Laasonen, on 25 September 2017 at Metropolia University of Applied Sciences which is one of the pilot institutions in SIMHE concept.
Labour market and education system are not able to recognise and acknowledge immigrants’ prior competences and skills, and these practices should be developed further according to the SIMHE steering group. Otherwise, educated immigrants end up doing work that is not equivalent to their current level of education, or they complete studies that overlap with their previous studies. This creates frustration and dilutes integration.
“There is a need to make use of everyone’s skills and competences in Finland. We cannot afford to waste and not to recognise such competences. SIMHE concept offers solutions for enabling immigrants to proceed for meaningful educational paths and to improve ways of recognising prior learning and competences”, says Sanni Grahn-Laasonen.
Lack of Finnish language skills is one of the main hindrances for studies and employment. Increasing the offerings on suitable Finnish language courses and possibilities in English-conducted education would ease the access for higher education according to the SIMHE steering group. Additionally, preparatory courses, work-based projects or on-line courses could support immigrants’ entry to Finnish labour market and official education system.
Services for highly educated immigrants within the SIMHE concept were piloted at Metropolia University of Applied Sciences and University of Jyväskylä in 2016. Both institutions offered guidance and counselling services and models for recognition of competences were tested and implemented in the fields of technology and business at Metropolia University of Applied Sciences. These services will be developed further within a larger SIMHE network to spread the good practices to other institutions for higher education. In 2017, University of Helsinki, University of Turku, Karelia University of Applied Sciences and Oulu University of Applied Sciences also joined the SIMHE network as SIMHE institutions.
SIMHE concept has got a strong foothold at Metropolia University of Applied Sciences. “When the amount of asylum seekers rocketed in Finland in 2015, Metropolia wanted to create a concrete tool to support integration. Our original idea was to establish a centre for recognising competences, but it was then modified to SIMHE concept in which we embrace networking and target-oriented ways to fasten immigrants’ and asylum seekers’ entry to meaningful educational and career paths. The increasing number of customers and received feedback from them are a solid proof that our SIMHE services have met the needs of immigrants and the Finnish society,” concludes Riitta Konkola, President, CEO of Metropolia University of Applied Sciences.
The Ministry of Education and Culture Report is published only in Finnish: Maahanmuuton vastuukorkeakoulutoiminta - raportti (Opetus- ja kulttuuriministeriön julkaisuja 2017:38 )
Ministry of Education and Culture
Tel. +358 (0) 295 3 30416
Metropolia University of Applied Sciences
Heidi Stenberg, project director
heidi.stenberg @ metropolia . fi
Tel +358 (0) 40 535 3388