About this paper:
Appears in: INTED2024 Proceedings
Publication year: 2024
Pages: 526-531
ISBN: 978-84-09-59215-9
ISSN: 2340-1079
doi: 10.21125/inted.2024.0193
Conference name: 18th International Technology, Education and Development Conference
Dates: 4-6 March, 2024
Location: Valencia, Spain
International students are growing in numbers, and they are a vital part of today’s university life (see Chai et al., 2020; Cubillo et al., 2006; Jing et al., 2020; Zhou et al., 2008). In Finland especially, Universities of Allied Sciences (UAS) have attracted international students to Finland (Mathies & Karhunen, 2021; Piironen, 2022). Arcada UAS is a Swedish speaking UAS located in the capital of Finland, Helsinki. Arcada has a high number of international students and has actively worked on helping international students integrate into the Finnish working life. A project was created at Arcada to help International Business (IB) students in their work life integration by offering a 20-week qualified business internship in Finland. The idea behind this was to offer the students office work in the business sector, moreover, to build an understanding around culturally bound reality of business life in Finland as well as a possibility to grow a business network for further employment in Finland. The model has shown itself to be effective and a study of the organizations and students involved in the project show that it has met its expectations. (Hongell, 2019) Arcada has further supported a project where approximately 30 international students and alumni from the IB program have been interviewed as to their views of the support offered and needed connected to integration to Finnish work life. This article will present the early findings from these interviews and suggest possible services offered to support the integration process.

The study is done as an abductive study where the base is a literature study of international student experiences as well as cultural theories connected to work life communication and behavior. The interviews have been made from August through October 2023 on Teams. The respondents have been Arcada UAS alumni or students from the IB program. The in-depth interviews have been semi structured with a focus on the application process, study period and service offering after graduation. The respondents have been able to freely describe their experience and the material has been analyzed in MAXQD. This article is based on the first results from this analysis but shows some clear suggestions for improvement.

The international students that were interviewed all had studied for at least one year at Arcada UAS. Of the students 6 were alumni and the rest current students. Asia and Russia have been Finland’s main markets for attracting students (Piironen, 2022) which also is the main market for Arcada UAS. Of the students interviewed, 3 come from Russia, 23 from Asia and 3 from Europe. The results show that the main integration facilitators are language skills, work experience during studies, interaction with company representatives as well as CV and cover letter writing courses combined with work interview training. The students also talked about other issues of integrational support that is not strictly related to work integration.
Student integration, practical training, internship, higher education, host country integration.