Understanding towards the exchange students too – Blaming the students has been going on for too long

In the public debate, most students who have followed the rules responsibly are forgotten.

This text has been published in Finnish in Aamulehti on 30 January. Find it here.

In the autumn, first-year students were blamed for the deteriorating coronavirus situation. When coronavirus cases were identified among the exchange students who came to the Tampere Universities community, the traditional discussion about irresponsible students began again.

It is unfortunate that there are people among the students who have not approached the coronavirus situation with the seriousness it requires. When the public debate is making a fuss about “students partying without a mask”, most students who have followed the guidelines responsibly are forgotten.

What is hidden from the discussion is that so many exchange students experience great concern, loneliness and even shame about the coronavirus situation.

Many exchange students are young and have moved to a completely new country and culture, some have moved away from their parents for the first time.

It is understandable that the timing of the exchange during a pandemic raises questions, but for the student, this may have been the only possible time for the exchange during the degree. Studying is now also possible seamlessly at a distance, but exchange studies completed only in the home country do not serve the learning goals of the exchange.

The responsibility for the consequences of mobility of people lies with the university that has made the decision to accept exchange students.

Tampere Universities community has handled the situation well: all exchange students have been offered the opportunity to take a corona test, students have received comprehensive quarantine instructions and tutors have been encouraged to remotely support worried exchange students.

Blaming the students has been going on for too long.

As the goal of the city of Tampere is to be an attractive destination for international experts, international students now need our support, not blame.

Aliisa Toivanen

Specialist in International Affairs and Advocacy, the Student Union of Tampere University

Olga Teräväinen

Board member, the Student Union of Tampere University