Van Vu has no regrets. The 23-year-old had travelled more than 7,000km from her home country Vietnam to Finland to pursue a business management degree at Laurea University of Applied Sciences (Laurea UAS).
Laurea is a good kind of different for Van Vu. She loves the warm and cosy campus atmosphere, “It makes me feel like going to school even when I did not have any class, just to enjoy the school vibe,” she says.
Most importantly for Van, the sense of community is strong at Laurea. “Teachers and staffs at the campus are always supportive and able to be not only a lecturer to me but also a friend, an advisor who is willing to hear me out and help me solve my problems,” she explains.
A proud history of excellence
Laurea UAS was founded in the 90s, offering students a platform from which they could develop into an expert in working life. Its top priorities include the promotion of professional development, the teaching of practical skills and preparation for working life.
This later evolved into more emphasis on networking skills and a student-centric approach. The strategy worked, as the university gained more recognition and attracted interest as far as Van’s hometown, Vietnam.
Van herself had learned about Finland from one of her friends who was then studying in the Nordic country. After researching the many options available to her, she finally decided on Laurea UAS. At this point in her research, she was already sure of the many benefits she would gain from studying for her degree abroad compared to studying locally.
Now a Laurea student, she’s found out first-hand that her research was correct.
Van is based in the Leppävaara campus – one of the six campuses the university operates in the Greater Helsinki Metropolitan Area. There are more than 7,000 students in total at Laurea UAS, of which there are about 650 international degree students and 400 exchange students each year.
But size only represents a fraction of what makes Laurea UAS stand out amongst Finnish universities.
A world-class education
Over the past few years, Laurea UAS has been ranked highly in evaluations of Finnish higher education institutions and recognised many times in categories like quality of education. It’s also the only university of applied science in Finland offering programs in safety, security and risk management, correctional services and beauty and cosmetics.
Central to its success is its learning model. Laurea’s Learning by Developing (LbD) is a unique structure that focuses on practical projects with real-life companies and organisations. The school also participates in societal and business development both domestically and internationally, as well as creating innovations, supporting entrepreneurial projects in intercultural and international environments. Students are present in all these undertakings, working and learning through practical experience.
For Van Vu, who is studying business management at Laurea UAS, collaborations and problem-solving are regular features of her days. In addition to widening her professional network, she also attends various events where she can approach potential companies and familiarise herself with the Finnish recruitment process.
Hospitality Management students, on the other hand, get to work in a fast-paced, authentic restaurant kitchen as part of their work placement unit. Those studying Social Services participate in projects that involve informal carers, immigrants and the elderly, among other things.
A place where students excel
Through these projects, Taisekwa Sigobodhla, who grew up in Zimbabwe, a second-year student in the Bachelor of Social Services programme, discovered the extensive scope of social work: “The best part of the projects is that they open your eyes to see areas of social work that you never even thought about before,” she says.
“…now I really appreciate project learning, as it allows you to apply what you have learned in authentic practical work and teaches you to work with different people and partner organisations.”
An unforgettable experience
Add educational excellence to the mix of safety, peace, sustainability and excitement that comes from living in Finland, and it’s a complete package for international students. Located in the heart of Finland, Laurea UAS is the perfect gateway to the different types of festivals and events that Helsinki regularly hosts, as well as other places of interest in the Nordic country.
A semester was enough to show Julian Goldschmitt from Germany what an amazing adventure being an international student at Laurea UAS could be.
From the countryside’s stunning beauty to the hospitality of Finns (which easily overrides their customary reserve), these experiences have left a lasting impression on the exchange student’s mind.
“The trip we made to Lapland with the other exchange students was the absolute highlight of autumn. It was an amazing adventure with amazing people. We lived in a cottage, took a husky safari, skied and had a snowball fight after sauna,” he recalled.
Whether it’s for an exchange or a full degree, being an international student at Laurea UAS will surely be a positive, life-changing experience.