The international Tampere Summer School was held at the University of Tampere on 7–18 August 2017 for the third time. The courses, which filled the classrooms with students, were free of charge for the University’s degree and exchange students.
In August, the semester started a little earlier for students who participated in the Summer School organised by the University of Tampere. All the courses were in English and yielded 2–5 ECTS credits. During the two-week Summer School, students explored such topics as the Finnish language, programming, online publishing and the Nordic welfare model.
Hanna-Kaisa Autio, international coordinator and one of the organisers of Tampere Summer School, notes several positive things about the School, one of which is its intensity.
“The good thing about the Summer School is that it is short and held before the autumn semester starts. Therefore, it is an alternative to courses that last the whole autumn. For example, they are a good option for those students who do not live in Tampere or Finland. In this way, the students do not have to travel to Tampere every week for the whole semester,” Autio says.
Azania Mwalulesa from Tanzania was among the students who started their studies at the Summer School.
“I am excited about the start of the semester and my studies in the Degree Programme in English Language, Literature and Translation. Thus, the Summer School was a good start to the academic year. During the Summer School, I familiarised myself with the University buildings and the way in which the teachers and students work in lectures,” Mwalulesa says.
Free of charge for degree students
Degree and exchange students can participate in the Summer School free of charge, which shows in the type of students taking part in the courses. One half were degree students, and the other half exchange students and students external to the University of Tampere, the latter paying a fee for their participation. The number of students external to the University of Tampere has grown steadily every year.
One of the goals of the Summer School is to offer flexible study options to both degree and exchange students. At the same time, the Summer School is an important means of international marketing.
“There is a huge demand for summer studies and shorter courses, and the Summer School is organised to meet this need. Not all of our own students may be willing or able to include a long period of exchange studies in their degrees, so the Summer School offers a way to internationalise at home,” Autio explains.
Language courses and the Nordic welfare model interest students
The Summer School also aims to showcase course options for possible degree and exchange students. This year, the most popular course was the Finnish Survival Course, a short course on the Finnish language organised by the University’s Language Centre. The course has also been among the students’ favourites at the previous Summer Schools. Online publishing, human technology interaction and programming were the most popular courses among the University’s own degree students. Other language courses, such as the course on World Englishes, English as a Global Language, were also popular.
“I liked the course very much because the English language and its past and present interest me. I had also planned to take part in the Finnish Survival Course, but it overlapped with the English course,” Mwalulesa says.
The course on the Nordic welfare model especially intrigued exchange students, for example Alessio Moro from Italy. Alessio also studied at the very first Tampere Summer School in 2015, and he is currently a degree student studying social sciences at the University of Tampere. It was the Summer School that first sparked his interest in the University of Tampere.
“I chose Finland as my destination at random but, luckily, I took part in the Summer School in 2015 when I was here for Erasmus exchange studies. The course got me interested in social sciences and studying in Finland. This year, I will participate in two courses to expand my general knowledge on topics I might study later. The Summer School offers a good opportunity to do that,” Moro says.
Tuition fees are not a problem
Like the other universities in Finland, the University of Tampere started to charge tuition fees to students coming from outside the EU and EEA, but the fees do not have an effect on how the Summer School is planned and organised.
“I do not see a clear connection between the fees and the Summer School. The number of applicants was roughly the same as previously, and usually it is the number and the topics of the courses that have more of an effect on the applicants,” Autio says.
The Summer School has been successful in attracting applications and participants from among the University of Tampere’s degree and exchange students, as well as growing numbers of students who come from outside the University.
“One of the signs that the Summer School has successfully reached its goals is how students at the University of Hong Kong have found the Tampere Summer School and participated in it. In 2016, we had 17 students from Hong Kong, but this year their number grew to 28, and we could not even admit all the applicants. They all pay tuition fees and even their coordinator contacted us beforehand,” Autio enthuses.
Mwalulesa did not already know if he had been accepted as an exchange student at the University of Tampere when he enrolled at the Summer School. What interested Mwalulesa the most about Finland was its exceptional weather and teaching methods.
“I chose Finland as an exchange destination because I had heard it gets really cold here. I have only seen snow on television and I have never been to a place where the temperature falls below zero. I also wanted to see how people study in Finland. I am interested to see what kind of teaching methods are used and how the students and teachers interact. I already got a bit of experience about that at the Summer School,” he explains.
Text and photographs: Anna Ojalahti