University of Oulu

Fee-paying international masters’ students in Finland : challenges, resilience, support, and the COVID-19 pandemic

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Author: Barrionuevo Bonini, Bárbara1
Organizations: 1University of Oulu, Faculty of Education, Educational Sciences
Format: ebook
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 1.1 MB)
Pages: 84
Persistent link:
Language: English
Published: Oulu : B. Barrionuevo Bonini, 2021
Publish Date: 2021-08-20
Thesis type: Master's thesis
Tutor: Lehtomäki, Elina
Reviewer: Haapakoski, Jani
Lehtomäki, Elina


This research explores the challenges faced by fee-paying international master’s students enrolled at the University of Oulu, in Finland and how the COVID-19 pandemic impacted their lives. Finland’s shift to a market-oriented approach, by institutionalizing tuition fees for international students from outside of the EU/EEA area, has affected them financially and their well-being by aggravating challenges that were already faced by non-paying students in Finland and bringing new ones. The study also unravels how these students coped with challenges, as well as their resilience during their studies and while living through the pandemic. Lastly, the study presents the support, or lack thereof, available for fee-paying students at the University of Oulu. This study uses phenomenographical research to unveil perceptions and understanding of the phenomena, by analysing the data collected through 15 interviews with international fee-paying master’s students from different programmes at the University of Oulu.

This study found out that international fee-paying master’s students chose Finland, mainly, because they secured scholarships. These students face an array of challenges, being the financial burden, the general lack of jobs and internship opportunities, something that was worsened with the advent of the pandemic, being the main ones. These financial challenges tend to enhance challenges to their well-being, with students reporting constant worry about their finances, and feeling guilty when unable to work during their studies. The pandemic also brought feelings of loneliness, diminished motivation to study, and impacted their overall experience in Finland. In terms of support, students reported being supported by teachers but made it clear that the university lacks support in different areas. This study also discusses students’ proposals to increase support that could impact their overall experience while studying in Finland.

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Copyright information: © Bárbara Barrionuevo Bonini, 2021. This publication is copyrighted. You may download, display and print it for your own personal use. Commercial use is prohibited.