TUAS and immigrants – developing joint competence

TUAS aims at the well-being of every citizen in the region. The population growth in the area is mostly based on immigration, and because of the refugee situation, supporting the integration of immigrants is increasingly important.

Our aim is to develop the competence of immigrants, making them visible, utilising their skills and increasing their inclusion and participation.  Thus immigrants can join in building our society and increasing our competitiveness and vitality as equal residents.

TUAS offers studies in several English-language programmes, but an increasing number of students with an immigrant background also study in the Finnish-language programmes. When studying towards a degree, they get to create contacts to working life, which are essential in terms of integration and employment. This is due to the fact that the studies include cooperation with working life in terms of practical training, theses, student projects and research, development and innovation (RDI) projects.


Several paths to studies

The aim is that, in the future, the degree education is available to a larger number of immigrants. Those applying as degree students can develop their study abilities by participating in education which prepares for UAS studies. The focus is on studies in the professional field and the Finnish language, and on developing study skills in general.

The transition to degree education is also supported by Open UAS path studies, i.e. the opportunity to complete first-year studies in the chosen field together with degree students. After having completed 60 ECTS credits of the degree education studies at Open UAS the student can apply as a degree student without demonstration of prior education or eligibility for higher education studies.

TUAS wants to facilitate the recognition of competence and study paths of immigrants. For example, those who have completed a nursing degree outside Finland, have the opportunity to complete the SATU update education for immigrant nurses, which provides the right to work as a registered nurse in Finland.

The framework of identification and recognition of the competence of immigrants is being further developed in the nation-wide Urareitti project. The Polku project, which is a joint project of the higher education institutions in the Turku region, the City of Turku and the Institute of Migration, also considers international students as an asset and tries to integrate them into working life, society and entrepreneurship as early as possible.


Language and culture as a path to working life

TUAS answers for immigrants’ needs for education also in working life. Tailor-made education in the Finnish language and culture, implemented alongside work, is offered to both individual employees and groups of different sizes.

In addition, TUAS works as the education provider of the Työpaikkasuomi and Työpaikkaruotsi (Workplace Finnish and Workplace Swedish) trainings in the Labour Mobility in Europe project. As their language skills develop, the professional competence of immigrants becomes more visible and utilised in work communities and thus in business life on a broader scale.

By developing education opportunities and with the help of RDI projects TUAS also reacts to the refugee situation. In the future, we try to support the higher education studies and competence development of current asylum seekers and increase their visibility. The cooperation partners include, for example, authorities, the Finnish Red Cross, parishes, local higher education institutions and different organisations.

An example of the cooperation is an event organised on Lemminkäisenkatu on 13 January 2016 at 1 pm to 5 pm. Its theme is “The Competence of Immigrants as an Opportunity”. The state administration, the Regional Council of Southwest Finland, the Finnish Red Cross and the Institution of Migration will take the floor at the event. In addition, educational organisations in the region will present their education and projects related to the theme.



Supporting asylum seekers

Integration of immigrants

Educational innovations

RDI activities

Regional development

TUAS’ operations

Participating in voluntary activities




The activities of TUO and the TUAS community


Project studies


Groups related to language, culture, life management and leisure time

Participating in voluntary activities




The activities of TUO and the TUAS community


Project studies


Groups related to language, culture, life management and leisure time


Open UAS


Degree education

Professional language

Workplace Finnish

Workplace Swedish


Preparatory education


Path through Open UAS


Developing field-specific models of education


Solutions on the identification and recognition of previously acquired competence

Local and international development projects 



Producing new knowledge and models of operation

Attitude atmosphere, influencing work



Constructing networks, joint goals and refining processes




Participation in joint planning



Organising communications and events

Table 1. TUAS’ tasks in the reception of asylum seekers and supporting the integration of immigrants.



Volunteers provide support for coping

Asylum seekers who arrive in the EU and Finland are featured in the media daily. We have already previously gotten used to the internationalisation of Finland, but now the number of people moving from one country to another is greater than before.

The majority of the arrivals are young men, who can participate in building a good Finland after successful integration. Some are families who need a safe growth environment, early childhood and the subsequent education and other services provided by society. They also need the opportunity to learn the language and culture and the prerequisites for a good life and income. Unaccompanied minor asylum seekers have also arrived in Finland before, but this year they will arrive in greater numbers than ever.

A good everyday life requires simple things such as food, clothes, a place of residence, security, health care, cleanliness, human dignity, partnership, getting to know a new culture and activities which create meaningfulness in one's life. This is why we now challenge volunteers to participate in activities. Besides the authorities, the starting phase has been seized by the Finnish Red Cross, parishes and voluntary organisations. You can do voluntary work, for example, through the Finnish Red Cross.

Clothes, football and meaningful leisure time activities

Universities have contemplated their role in the integration of asylum seekers. A good example of the first-stage activity is provided by TUAS’ Student Union TUO. In addition to collecting clothes, TUO organised a football match near the immigration detention centre. The event attracted a group of enthusiastic players.

Playing football could act as the symbol of voluntary activities. A shared language is not necessarily required, but shared rules, teams, a field and a ball are. The staff of TUAS have in their spare time also participated in several activities to support immigrants.  

Students teaching language and culture

The University of Turku, Åbo Akademi University and TUAS have in cooperation launched Finnish studies which take place in small groups. In these studies, students teach asylum seekers. In cooperation with the Daisy Ladies organisation, the students also tutor language learning groups. At the end of November, activities for a men’s club will be planned by students and the Finnish Red Cross. Once experience has been gained in the activity, the purpose is to launch new small group and club activities in January 2016.

Would you like to join in?

Please email


Meeri Rusi

Meeri Rusi is a Head of Education and Research at TUAS and, for her part, coordinates issues related to asylum seekers and immigration at TUAS. 

Tiina Hirard

Tiina Hirard is a language teacher at TUAS and also works with future learning design. Her tasks include the development of the teaching of Finnish as a second and foreign language and the education aimed at immigrants.


Pia Vainio

The photo is taken by Pia Vainio for the publication “Ennen olin ujo, nyt olen rohkea” (“I Used to Be Shy, Now I’m Bold”) from the project Encounters – Encouraging Immigrants by Art to Seek Employment. Get to know the publication in Loki: The publication is available only in Finnish; an English-language publication on the topic is available at

In this issue