Dennis recommends the University of Oulu: “Succeeding in here is rewarding”

Dennis Kelley and Ahnaf Ahmad have experienced the tough winter and the gentle summer of Oulu. They are international students who do not lack in arctic attitude.

Respondents to the international student barometer stated they are satisfied with the University of Oulu. No less than 96 % felt happy with their life at the university. Students felt welcome and told they could get help fairly easy from the teaching staff.

Dennis Kelley, 32, who studies marketing in OBS, agrees with the majority.

"I love it here in Oulu. The closeness to nature is wonderful. OBS has incorporated many sustainability aspects into our classes. More universities should be as forward-looking as the University of Oulu", says Kelley.

Ahnaf Ahmad, 28, who is studying in the International Master's Programme in Wireless Communication Engineering (WCE), tells he has found friends at international events and student societies.

“I have been part of the UniOulu Ambassadors, Oulu Entrepreneurship Society, and volunteered in the Polar Bear Pitching. During my studies, I have participated in all kinds of projects, and through those experiences, I have managed to network with both the international student and locals", says Ahmad. Networking and involvement have brought self-improvement skills to Ahmad's studies, which are otherwise more focused in the technical side.

Responsibility and involvement create meaning

The education at the University of Oulu is high-quality, for satisfaction with education has improved throughout the research period from year 2010. This year, the university placed second of all the universities in Finland in satisfaction in education.

Man with laptop in Tellus

Ahnaf Ahmad is pleased that the University of Oulu offers opportunities to dive into the business world via different courses, such as Avanto program.

Students were also happy with the aspects of free time. The internet connection, student societies' activity, and living costs were ranked significantly higher than  in other Finnish universities. At the same time, students felt that they were not able to find friends from the local students.

"It is the same everywhere; international students hang out with other international students," Kelley says.

Even though finding friends amongst the locals is not easy, it too can be accomplished. Kelley has found a Finnish girlfriend. Ahmad too reveals that he has found close friends by getting involved in different activities.  

Finding a job is not that easy

International Student Barometer (ISB) is a survey aimed at international students through which feedback on matters such as university services, studies, and free time activities are collected. International students would like to have more career services available. Students appreciated the research of the University of Oulu but felt that the connection to the working life was not visible. Job search had proven to be difficult for a lot of international students.

Both Kelley and Ahmad tell they are both understanding and unhappy that the local companies do not hire more international students.

"I understand the perspective of the local companies. If the job requires communication with Finnish-speaking people, of course, they rather hire a Finnish-speaking person to that job. On the other hand, if the job is purely technical and the company is international, I hope that the business would hire the most suitable person without thinking about the nationality", Ahmad says.

Kelley thinks the companies should hire more international students. As a marketing student, he thinks he could offer local companies expertise from an international viewpoint.

"Especially if the company is trying to break through the international market, the international perspective can be a good thing," Kelley says.

Both Kelley and Ahmad say they are too busy with their studies to learn Finnish at the same time.

"I would like to stay here, but if I do not find a job in a year after graduating, I lose my residence permit. It is very stressful, but I have not had the time to do both; learn Finnish and do well in my studies," Kelley says.

Arctic Attitude

All in all, 85 % of the respondents would recommend the University of Oulu as a study place. Kelley agrees.

"I would recommend the University of Oulu. The University of Oulu promotes that "if you can make it here you can make it anywhere", and it is true. The environment is not forgiving here, but if one wants to succeed one really can, and it's rewarding. Winters are tough with the darkness and everything, but the summers are amazing. Summer makes it worth it", says Kelley. 

Man sitting University of Oulu 

Dennis Kelley says that Oulu feels like a university city. "The whole city gathers around the university and lot of the events are university-based. The previous students are heavily involved in entrepreneurial ideas and companies."

ISB is organized yearly

International Student Barometer is a thorough study on the experience of the international students about their studies, the services of the university and free time.

The questionnaire was sent to all international students at the University of Oulu, and 626 students answered it. The response rate was 41 %.

Last updated: 2.5.2019