The Student Union of the University of Turku conducted communication survey for the international students this spring. The survey examined how international students find out about TYY, which are the communication channels they follow, whether they are satisfied with the communication in English and in addition what they know about the University’s employment projects. More than 60 international students participated in the survey, representing exchanges, degree students, doctoral candidates and visiting students.
All of the faculties were presented, the highest response rate being in the Faculty of Mathematics and Natural sciences (30%) and the lowest in the Faculty of Law (5 %). 85 % of the respondents were members of the Student Union although not all degree students were aware of their membership which is mandatory for all degree students. One-third of the respondents had begun their studies in 2016, another one-third in 2015 and 20 % in 2014. The rest of the students had started earlier.
The Student Union must be visible from the beginning of the studies
Most of the new international students heard first time about TYY in the university’s welcome material. About half of the international students said they received most information about TYY during orientation and one-third through their tutors. Early stage of the studies is therefore critical whether and what kind of information student receives about the Student Union. It is also essential time to get the exchange students join the Student Union and activate the both degree and exchange students in the student life. Almost all of the students attending the orientation in spring wanted to join TYY’s mailing list. From the respondents slightly more than half says they are receiving TYY’s newsletter in English. On the other hand, not all students wanted to join the list at all. TYY will continue to be present in different kinds of information markets during autumn semester. One information event targeted especially for international students is also on to-do list.
TYY’s organisations could communicate more in English
This year TYY has put more effort in international communication. Most important news as well as documents have been translated into English. Last year TYY was awarded The University of Turku’s “Language deed of the year” award which gave motivation to continue improving international communications this year. According to the survey a clear majority is satisfied with TYY’s level of English language use. About 15% think that even more content should be in English. International students wish TYY’s organisations would communicate more in English. International students want to attend events in which Finnish students are also participating, not only those that are targeted mainly for the international students. Some international students are hoping that TYY provides services that it already offers. Hence TYY must communicate better its services to the students. There is demand for news about politics and internship opportunities, leisure events, sporting events and non-alcoholic events.
International students follow TYY through a variety of channels
International students follow TYY in Facebook, newsletter and website. Only a few respondents were following TYY’s Instagram and Twitter. Respondents were satisfied with existing channels although some hoped for more content in English on TYY’s YouTube channel. Around 25 % of the respondents had followed decisions of the Student Union Council and the Executive Board. This year TYY has translated decisions of the meetings into English. With this effort TYY aims to increase transparency and international students’ opportunities to participate in decision-making now and in the future.
Students need more Finnish language practice opportunities and support in employment
International students feel that they have a good opportunity to study Finnish. However, students would need more opportunities to practice speaking Finnish and intensive courses. It is crucial to offer several levels of Finnish. According to the survey, international degree students are not sufficiently aware of the employment projects that are offered for the international students. About one-third of survey respondents said they were aware of the projects. Students felt that degree programmes should include more internships. In addition, students need help with job hunting as well as writing CV and motivation letter. Many of the wished services are those that The Career Services of the University of Turku is already working on.
New survey coming up in autumn
Although international students are mostly satisfied with TYY’s communications, there is still room for improvement. TYY will take into account the feedback received from its first communication survey and uses the given ideas in developing its activities. Second survey will be conducted in autumn semester. Thank you all for participating!
Board Member, International Affairs
Specialist, International Affairs