22 SES 09 B, Teaching, Learning and Assesment in Higher Education
This proposal deals with internationalization of higher education and the position of languages. It analyses, whether and how languages are presented in the internationalisation policies and foreign language degree programmes in Finnish higher education. Do languages have a place in the internationalisation discourse of higher education? Or are languages taken more or less for granted? The main question in this presentation is, in other words: do languages have any role in the internationalisation of Finnish higher education?
Finland is among the countries with the highest amount of English-taught programmes in higher education (Wächter and Maiworm 2009). It seems that while the stated purpose of introducing, developing and supporting foreign language programs in Finnish Higher education is largely motivated by demands for increased internationalization of HE, languages do not play a role in the vocalized policies (Saarinen 2010).
As this abstract is being written, Finnish universities are implementing a fundamental higher education reform of 2010, which has for the most part been motivated with the international attractiveness of Finnish universities (Ministry of Education 2009). Finnish higher education has traditionally been seen as a nation state project (Klinge 1989 and 1990; Anckar 2000). In recent years, however, the higher education developments and political demands for increased internationalization and student mobility (see Nokkala 2007; Garam 2009; Ministry of Education 2009) have challenged this relatively stable and traditional understanding of higher education as, first and foremost, a national issue. Our higher education system has been adapted in many ways to meet the demands of the European Higher Education Area (Saarinen 2008). In the “new” university system it will be possible to commodify universities by allowing them to charge tuition fees for students coming from outside the EU. In addition, the new internationalization strategy for Finnish higher education, published in the beginning of 2009, calls for further measures towards internationalisation (Ministry of Education 2009a).
All these processes challenge Finnish higher education not only from the point of view of internationalization, but also from the fundamental perspective of universities and polytechnics as national institutions (providing a public service) in a globalizing world. These structural changes also force the universities and polytechnics to rethink their language of tuition, as English increases its share in a system traditionally dominated by Finnish, and, to a smaller degree, Swedish.
Anckar, Olle. 2000. University Education in a Bilingual Country: The Case of Finland. Higher Education in Europe 25(4), 499-506. Fairclough, N. 2003. Analysing Discourse. Textual analysis for social research London: Routledge. Garam, Irma. 2009. Vieraskieliset tutkinto-ohjelmat suomalaisissa korkeakouluissa. Helsinki: CIMO. [Foreign language degree programmes in Finnish higher education institutions] Klinge, Matti. (Ed.) 1989. Helsingin yliopisto 1640–1990, osa II: Keisarillinen Aleksanterin Yliopisto 1808–1917 [University of Helsinki 1640-1990, part II: Imperial Alexander University 1808-1917]. Helsinki: Otava. Klinge, Matti. (Ed.) 1990. Helsingin yliopisto 1640–1990, osa III: Helsingin yliopisto 1917–1990. [University of Helsinki 1640-1990, part III: University of Helsinki 1917-1990]. Helsinki: Otava. Ministry of Education 2009a. Strategy for the Internationalisation of Higher Education Institutions in Finland 2009-2015. Helsinki: Ministry of Education. Nokkala, Terhi. 2007. Constructing the ideal university : the internationalisation of higher education in the competitive knowledge society. Tampere: Tampere University Press. Saarinen, Taina. 2008.Whose Quality? Social actors in the interface of transnational and national higher education policy. Discourse: studies in cultural politics of education 29(3), 179–193. Saarinen, T. 2010. Internationalisation of Finnish higher education – is language an issue? Manuscript. Wächter, Bernd & Maiworm, Friedhelm. 2008. English-Taught Programmes in European Higher Education. The Picture in 2007. ACA Papers on International Cooperation in Education. Bonn: Lemmens.
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