Studies and research in exceptional times
Finnish universities and universities of applied sciences have continued to operate all throughout the past year, moving to distance education where and when necessary. They are well-experienced in utilizing and operating in virtual learning environments, which has enabled smooth adaptation to the situation.
Also, international degree students were able to start and pursue their studies in Finland well despite the pandemic. Although some of the foreign degree students were not able to arrive in Finland because of travel restrictions, the wide provision of online studies has enabled them to attend their studies from their home countries.
Studies have been organized in various forms: some of the studies, such as necessary laboratory work or small-group teaching, were carried out on campus, some took place via hybrid teaching, and a big part fully online.
Where contact teaching has been possible, groups have been kept as small as possible and safety guidelines, such as safe social distancing, hand hygiene and wearing a protective face mask, have been observed.
From our student stories you can read about the experiences of international students currently studying in Finland – it’s not just all COVID-19!
A look into the future
The pandemic has also generated or sped up the development of new solutions and services to cater for the needs that emerge when going fully digital.
According to Riikka Vanhanen from JAMK UAS and the Finnish Network for International Programmes (FINNIPS), many UASs are planning and preparing for the studies to get started on campuses. However, due to the nature of the pandemic, the UASs’ management continue to follow the coronavirus situation carefully, and decisions on study arrangements are made accordingly. In many cases, the UASs are also prepared to offer the studies as hybrid teaching. In some UASs, the start of the studies in August/September is planned to take place online, while the rest of the semester’s teaching would be arranged on campus.
“At JAMK UAS, a new eServices for Students platform, which was launched in autumn 2020, serves as an example of the ways in which we seek to ensure that in addition to studies, also all the support services are available and attainable online”, says Riikka.
Pauliina Mikkonen from the University of Helsinki tells that the starting point for planning of teaching in the autumn term 2021 is to enable safe contact teaching. According to current estimates, about one-third of courses in the teaching programme can be safely organised as contact teaching on University premises.
Teaching and examinations will be planned and organised so that safe distances can be observed in the facilities. Small group teaching will be prioritised in contact teaching, and as a rule, mass lectures will be delivered remotely. Degree programmes will arrange on-site teaching periods wherever possible.
“The University wants to ensure staff and student safety and at the same time enable everybody to continue their studies and research in these exceptional circumstances. The University offers varying kinds of remote services and events to support the mental well-being of students”, says Pauliina.
If you are about to start your studies in Finland in the autumn 2021, you will get more information about the COVID-19 situation in your study location from your host university.
“All international students, foreign degree students and exchange students, are warmly welcome to study in Finland, and we will make sure that you have a good and safe start for your studies”, adds Riikka.
CORONA SITUATION IN FINLAND
COVID-19 vaccinations of risk groups are now ongoing, and in accordance with Finland’s vaccination strategy, the vaccination will later be offered free of charge to everyone residing in Finland, including international students.
For more information and updates on the COVID-19 situation and the measures that the Finnish Government are undertaking to slow down the spread of the coronavirus, refer to the website of the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare.