Ten teachers graduated from the first international teacher education programme in 2005. This small pilot group paved the way for the internationalization of pedagogical activities in Haaga-Helia vocational teacher education.
Since the pilot group almost 300 international teachers have gained their Finnish teacher qualification in Haaga-Helia School of Vocational teacher education. Teacher students have come to Finland from all over the world. It is typical that in a group of 20 teacher students there are almost as many nationalities and mother tongues represented.
Quality programme for teacher students
The programme is implemented in English and the purpose is to offer a possibility for teacher studies for those whose aim is to become employed as a teacher in Finland but cannot complete the studies in Finnish. The programme has the same competence requirements, content and structure as Finnish programmes. Also collaboration across international and Finnish teacher education programmes has been encouraged and conducted in different ways throughout the years.
Studying in the international teacher education programme is special in many ways. The variety in fields of expertise, cultural diversity and previous study and work experiences of the students enrich the learning experience but also challenge both students and tutors. Besides, the programme contributes to the integration of the future teachers into Finnish education.
The international programme has become a well-established part of teacher studies in Haaga-Helia. It has also offered a possibility to develop and benchmark implementations of export of teacher education. The graduates have been employed in all sectors of education in Finland as teachers, tutors, directors or pedagogical experts.
What about the future of the international teacher education programme within teacher education? There is a growing number of applicants to the programme each year, which shows that Finnish vocational teacher education is an attractive option. On the other hand there is also a need to employ more teachers with multicultural backgrounds in vocational schools and universities of applied sciences. We hope that both national and local educational authorities will see the potential of the diversity, which international teachers offer to Finnish education.