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Experts in higher education and research will promote higher education and research cooperation between Finland and the UK

Experts in higher education and research will promote higher education and research cooperation between Finland and the UK

Birgitta Vorinen started her work as a higher education and research expert at the Finnish Embassy in London in early January. Prior to joining the mission in London, Vorenen worked as Director of Higher Education Policy in the Ministry of Education and Culture. The United Kingdom has thus become the ninth country of the Team Finland Knowledge Network. Vuorinen will monitor UK higher education and research policy, promote opportunities for Finnish collaboration and visibility, and assist Finnish universities, research institutes and other actors in the innovation ecosystem with the aim of increasing collaboration with British actors.

The Team Finland Knowledge Network is made up of eight other experts in higher education and research, working around the world. In addition to London, there are specialists in Abu Dhabi, Buenos Aires, Moscow, New Delhi, Beijing, Pretoria, Singapore and Washington. The specialist experts of Team Finland Knowledge work in Finnish embassies in close cooperation with the Team Finland network. Team Finland Knowledge enhances Finns’ access to critical R&D&I networks and promotes education-based immigration.

The UK is different from other neighboring countries because of our countries’ common history in the European Union. EU programs have been of great importance to enhance mobility and research cooperation between countries, and intra-EU cooperation remains pivotal to building a new UK-EU partnership.

“Cooperation with other EU countries will also play an important role in the development of bilateral relations,” he said. Birgitta Vorenin.

What happens to cooperation in the field of higher education and mobility between countries?

Finnish and British universities have concluded a large number of bilateral agreements and work closely together on research. Both countries have set ambitious goals to increase and internationalize R&D and innovation funding, which also creates good conditions for developing effective R&D & I networks and partnerships.

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Finland is part of eleven different European university networks that are building new forms of inter-university cooperation and cross-border educational cooperation. Two of the Finnish higher education networks also include a British university. The networks receive funding from the Erasmus+ and Horizon programmes. Program financing terms govern the activities, which means that the UK’s withdrawal from the EU and any agreements on program cooperation will continue to be reflected in the activities of these networks.

The UK met its 2030 target of 600,000 foreign students ten years ahead of schedule. A large portion of British universities’ income is made up of tuition fees, which means that international students are also of great economic importance. With the exit from the European Union, tuition fees for international degree students have gone up and even quadrupled. Increasing costs, entry restrictions, the coronavirus pandemic and the consequent increase in distance learning opportunities have reduced the number of applicants and students from EU countries. For example, the number of Finnish applicants in the so-called main application was about a thousand in 2015-2016, but only 240 in 2021. However, the UK still wants international students for degrees, and international student recruitment has changed Attention to Asia and Africa in particular. According to statistics from the beginning of February, the total number of international degree students at British universities increased by 4% compared to the previous year.

Finland aims to triple the number of foreign students in universities before 2030. The UK has a wide range of higher education and loan concept that balances tuition fees and takes into account income levels, which does not create a strong incentive for British students to study abroad. However, mobility is being promoted by the UK to support its students’ studies abroad totaling £330m through the so-called Turing programme, for at least the next three years. The UK wants British students to become international, while Finland wants to increase the number of foreign graduates and exchange students. Both countries need skilled labor, so there is a strong will to hire highly educated people. Collaboration between different policy areas is important when it comes to attracting knowledgeable people. This is why the UK and Finland are in the process of reviewing, among other things, their entry regulations.

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– At the moment, for example, it is difficult for trainees to travel to the UK, and with other EU countries, we want to draw the attention of the British government to this, says Birgitta Vorenen.

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