TYY International conducted housing survey for international students during September. The survey was sent to the exchange students of The University of Turku through International Office’s mailing list and forwarded to the international master students through coordinators.
The survey received in total 113 responses. 53,1 % of the respondents were exchange students, most commonly studying in TSE. 41,6 % of responses were given by international master students, most commonly studying in the faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences. Doctoral students gave 5,3 % of the responses. New international students were most active respondents: 70 % of them had come to Finland in 2016, 13 % in 2015, 2 % in 2014, 5 % in 2013 and 10 % earlier than 2013.
In total 36 different nationalities participated in the survey, biggest groups being from Germany, China, USA, Spain and India. Out of exchange students 78 % were citizens of EU/ EEA and 7 % of the master degree students were EU/ EEA citizens. Out of doctoral students 25 % were EU/EEA citizens.
One of the most interesting questions in the survey was inquiring the reasons why students had chosen The University of Turku as their study destination. Most common answer was related to the programme or course content or research possibilities (mentioned 36 times). Finnish educational system was mentioned as a second important reason (17 times). Other reasons mentioned were the city of Turku (15 times), reputation of The University of Turku (12 times), Nordic country (12 times), Finland (9 times), The University of Turku as a partner university (7 times), size of the city (6 times), curiosity towards something different (6 times). Less than 5 times mentioned reasons were friends’ recommendations and cost of living, Turku’s reputation as a student city, teachers’ recommendations, Finnish people and possibility to improve English, possibility to learn Finnish or Swedish, international place to study, weather, nature and good website of the university. Job opportunities, rankings, free education, non-touristic country and living standards were each mentioned only once. Both exchange and master students mentioned same characters although the exchange students’ answers were with greater variety whereas master students underlined more often programme’s contents and study related issues’ importance in decision making.
Even 68 % of the respondents had lived on their own before moving to Turku. There were some students arriving in Turku without having apartment and some of them stayed at first at friend’s or tutor’s place. This autumn University Chaplains organised emergency housing in Camp Sinappi but the continuation of the concept has not been decided yet.
According to the survey it was more challenging for the master students to find the apartment as some of the degree students got results of study place and possible residence permit later than exchange students. This issue is already taken into account as new degree students starting in autumn 2017 should get their results of obtained study place earlier in spring. All doctoral students who took part in this survey had apartments before arriving in Turku. The reasons why students did not have an apartment before arriving were for example late applying time, they could not find apartment at all, contract started later than arrival, offer was too expensive or apartment was not suitable for living.
TYS still most common housing option, majority of students pay monthly € 251-300 for rent
Out of respondents 64,9 % live in TYS. 15,8 % live in Retrodorm, 11,40 % in private market, 4,4% sublease someone else’s apartment and 3,5 % live in TVT. Although use of Facebook housing groups (such as Turku Accommodation and Turun omatoiminen asuntovälitys) seems to increase year by year, students seem to find applying apartment directly from TYS most convenient. 50 % of the respondents had a room in a shared apartment, 30 % lived in a studio, 9 % lived alone in a bigger apartment and 11 % lived together with their partner or family. The level of rent was also asked in the survey and 42 % of respondents pay € 251- 300 for living costs. 26 % pays € 351-400, 8 % € 301-350 and 7 % pays € 201-250. This is also important information for the future students: apartments under € 200 are practically non-existent.
In the end of the survey students were asked to give opinion on several statements in Likert scale (1= strongly disagree, 2= disagree, 3= no opinion, 4= agree, 5= strongly agree). All students are satisfied with their apartment (score 4,0-4,2 in all groups). Students were also happy with the making of contract process (4,1-4,7 in all groups). Students living in Retrodorm got the lowest score (3,6) on statement “My apartment is suitable for studying” but on the other hand, Retrodorm’s common spaces got the highest score (4,3).
Lower scores but yet satisfied scores received statements such as “my apartment is silent enough” (scores varying between 2,5-4,0) and “the temperature of my apartment is satisfying” (scores varying between 3,5-4,0). Students were also more critical whether the apartment was clean when moving in (scores varying between 3,4-4,3).
The Student Union will use the gathered information in improving international students’ living conditions in Turku. We will spread the information also to our housing partners, the University and the city of Turku and discuss about problematic issues so that living and studying conditions in Turku can be improved. Feedback on specific problems faced by individual respondents will be anonymously directed to our housing partners.
TYY International thanks all the participants of the survey. Winner of 2 movie tickets have been contacted via e-mail.
Tuomas Dahlström, Member of the executive board, international affairs: firstname.lastname@example.org
Satu Nurmi, Specialist in international affairs: email@example.com