"Adult education can be a successful export product, responding to the shortage of well-qualified professionals anywhere in the world," said Harri Suominen (right). He and Tuomas Kauppinen (left) are the directors and co-founders of Edunation.

Finland aspires to lead the adult education export market

News story. Finnish education export company Edunation plans to attract 150 000 students from Asia to Finland to study robotics, automation and many other subjects relevant today.

Pia Heikkilä Photo Pia Heikkilä

17.04.2018

Asian countries are known for their fierce competitiveness in the workplace and many professionals are searching for alternative options to boost their careers. Private professional tutoring is one way of improving skills but often it can be costly and time consuming.

Now Finnish education export company Edunation is offering alternatives for busy professionals from all over the world to study in Finland.

“We have summer schools that can be tailored to those who want to experience high quality Finnish education but who don’t feel the need for a full degree course,” said Harri Suominen, one of the founders of Edunation.

The company has international student programs on several campuses, including at Lappeenranta University of Technology and Helsinki Business School.

“These courses offer a taste of high-quality education and academic research in Finland, and help students learn to become problem-solvers,” Suominen said.

One of Edunation’s most popular courses is the entrepreneurship course, which is ideal for budding entrepreneurs who want to learn the basics—from how to identify a business opportunity to how to write a business plan.

“It helps students to nurture their skills and think outside the box. In Finland people are encouraged to become independent thinkers and realize their potential. We emphasize the fact that everyone is basically on equal footing. Success is what entrepreneurship is all about,” Suominen said.

Edunation also offers business and tech courses, lasting from 1 to 4 weeks to suit the student’s requirements. Besides universities, Edunation is collaborating with adult education providers like Omnia.

Finland to offer residence permits to skilled entrepreneurs

Short courses are part of Edunation’s larger plan to attract 150 000 students from Asia to Finland to study robotics, automation and many other subjects relevant today.

The intention is to make Finnish education one of the country’s most important export products. Edunation’s plans are supported by Peter Vesterbacka, one of the figures behind the gaming company Rovio, best known for creating the Angry Birds franchise.

“As a country we have a fantastic educational brand and a great reputation, which are being underused in export opportunities,” said Vesterbacka.

According to Vesterbacka, there is a huge demand for good education across Asia. The aim is to start marketing the services in countries such as China and India where paid-for education is the norm rather than the exception.

Many students who take short or long courses may even wish to settle in Finland. Starting in April this year, Finland will issue residence permits to non-EU citizens on condition that they come up with innovative business ideas.

“This could help to boost Finland’s global competitiveness,” Vesterbacka added.

Peter Vesterbacka, one of the figures behind the gaming company Rovio, sees a lot of potential in Finland’s education export. “As a country we have a fantastic educational brand and a great reputation,” he said.

The business case for adult education

Across Asia there is a severe shortage of high-quality adult education.  For instance, India’s adult education sector is mainly run by voluntary operators, offering very basic courses, often focusing on literacy and manual skills.

China has sought to create a decent adult education infrastructure in the last few decades. As part of the country’s focus on economic growth and improving adults’ skills, the government has been making a series of important policy changes to promote adult education. But some say they are lacking in sustained efforts and cohesive equal policies.

This is where countries such as Finland, with its vast network of adult education institutions and facilities and unparalleled reputation a global leader in education, could really come to its own and make the country an attractive destination for life-long learners.

“Adult education can indeed be a successful export product, responding to the shortage of well-qualified professionals anywhere in the world and helping them to update their skills,” said Suominen.