Thursday, August 27, 2009

Next year, a special program for Martians...

The Foreign Ministry says that more than half of the diplomas of the West African students who have applied for residence permits in June and July on order to study in Hamk are in fact fake.

The applicants are mostly from Ghana and Nigeria, and were selected in a test that was given in Ghana after 4 out of 5 Hamk's English-language technical programs turned out to be almost empty.

I am not asking why the students faked the papers. I'd probably do the same. I wanna know why the hell Hamk has 5 English-language programs, 4 of which are almost empty.

Hamk or Hämeen korkeakoulu is a technical college of about 7000 students in the historical province of Häme, which is now three smaller provinces. It has five degree programs in English, out of the total of 25: Automation Engineering, Construction Engineering, International Business, Mechanical Engineering and Production Technology, and Supply Chain Management. They are starting the sixth this fall: Industrial Management.

There are 1301 English-speaking people living in Häme, out of 22192 foreign language speakers, and a total population of 854593. Does this maybe explain why they are having a bit of trouble finding folks willing to study Supply Chain Management in English? Maybe somebody in there should also study demand a little bit? Maybe having 20% of the study programs in English is not such a bright idea in an area where 97% of population are Finnish speakers?

Finland offers free education to foreigners, including non-EU foreigners. It's very nice of them to do, of course, and I have myself benefited from that in my own time. However, from Finland's point of view I can see only two purposes in such generosity: getting some new educated workforce, or spreading and promoting the Finnish culture around the world. I don't see how having foreigners in their own separate English-language programs can benefit either of these.

It's even worse if those programs are meant for the foreign-born young people who are already living in Finland. How do they expect them to integrate and find work if their college environment is all English-speaking and if they don't speak Finnish in the first place? Yes, high-tech fields do accept non-Finnish-speaking employees, but in general this is Finland, and people speak Finnish here. OK, they speak Swedish in some places, but Häme isn't one of them. Not speaking any Finnish is a serious disadvantage, and not speaking any Finnish after having graduated from a Finnish college is even more so.

I don't mind it if some Africans with a genuine interest in Finland come to study something useful in some normal Finnish study program and stay to work, or even go back. I do mind spending the taxpayer money for a number of absolutely useless programs that the school cannot even fill without a hunting trip abroad.

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