In an attempt to maintain their competitiveness, many countries have seen the rise of a new export product: education.
The University of Turku (UTU) hopped on the bandwagon in 2013, teaming up with the universities of Tampere and Eastern Finland to form Finland university, an education exporter.
“Education exports differ from traditional study programs in that they are tailored for the client, which is often a foreign government agency”, says Päivi Granö, the head of education in Rauma.
Essentially the students receive education, which is fit for their countries’ standards, from abroad. Granö points out that education exporting is not only a commercial practice, but also a learning experience for both parties.
Finland university is a trailblazer on a national scale, although it pales in comparison to the big bucks globally. Increasing education exports is in the strategies of both UTU and the Ministry of Education.
IN FEBRUARY, UTU saw its first set of fulltime undergraduate students, a Namibian group of 24, enroll in the BA program in education. The project is funded by the Namibia Students Financial Assistance Fund (NSFAF). The students will study for two years at Rauma, while the third will be spent in Namibia. After finishing their degree, the students will be fully qualified to work as teachers in their homeland.
Even though export programs are open for plenty of customizing, only little changes were made by the Namibian officials.
“Finnish teacher education has a remarkable reputation, and as such, the Finnish format is often the one countries want to get”, Granö states.
This reputation also drew Namibian Fousy Jaar, 22, into successfully applying to the program. After two weeks in Finland, Jaar has already noticed what the buzz is about, on both university and comprehensive school levels. Her class had recently visited a local primary school, where she was impressed with the abundance of technology, the encouragement of critical thinking, and exercises based on teamwork. Above all, Jaar admires the attitude towards teachers in Finland.
“Teachers are valued here, and for a good reason. They play a crucial role in the lives of learners and the community at large.“
And what could Finns learn from Namibians? They could be a little more competitive and ambitious in their studies. Jaar has noticed a somewhat carefree mindset when it comes to education; failed exams followed by retakes are common among Finnish students.
“You shouldn’t take your outstanding education for granted”, she notes.
Jaar compares the services in Rauma to Swiss clockwork, fueled by “sisu”. As for the freezing weather of the north, Jaar expected worse.
“Snow on the ground is really beautiful, but I can’t wait for summer to come” she laughs.
- Education exports are government bought study programs. Many universities have started offering these in recent years for income.
- UTU has sold its programs all over the world, primarily to East Asia and the Gulf area.
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