Education as Finland’s hottest export?

By on 09.05.2016 in PhD thesis

classroomIn a new dissertation Finland’s newly emerging business sectors, education export, is critically investigated. In the dissertation “Education as Finland’s hottest export? A multi-faceted case study on Finnish national education export policies” JustEd member Monika Schatz combines three case studies that explore opportunities and challenges of Finland’s education export from different angles.

Taken together, the three case studies provide valuable insights into this newly emerging field and call for rethinking current policies and practises.

Aim: capitalize on the Finnish education miracel

Monika SchatzEducation export is not a univocal concept. In Finland, education has received international attention ever since the outstanding Finnish PISA results in the early 2000s. Many foreign educators and decision makers are interested in knowing more of the Finnish education miracle. Thus, education has become an asset for Finland.

With the aim to capitalize on the good reputation of Finnish education, the Finnish Ministry of Education and Culture published an education export policy in 2010. The aim of this policy is for Finland to become

“one of the world’s leading education-based economies”

(MOE, 2010, p. 10), based on the export of educational services, by 2015.

Aim of this dissertation is to explore the Finnish education export and contextualize the policy. Finland has invested much in education export over the past years, for example by branding and promoting Finnish education abroad, organizing teacher visits and educational programs, and by selling educational services and know-how. However, the goal of being among the world’s leading education exporters (such as for example UK, USA and Australia), has not been reached.

A new education export strategy was issued in 2013, which changed the focus towards the possibilities of exporting Finnish higher education. The strategy urged for tuition fees from foreign degree students, in order to raise the profits from Finland’s highly acknowledged education system.

Challenges with the Finnish education brand

As this research demonstrates, also this second strategy faces many challenges. Both strategies did not (yet) result in a profitable education export industry.

The author argues that this is mainly due to ambiguous education export products and a lack of market research. Further challenges were identified in the Finnish education brand itself, which is used as a basis for the export activities.

Finally, the policy implementation has turned out difficult. Finnish higher education institutions were supposed to be the driving forces of education export, but as this research reveals, many do not consider education export as their core activity and do not feel supported enough to actively engage with education export.

Text: Anna Maria Peltonen

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