The Washington Post has reported that US military chief Gen. Joseph Dunford, left, will meet his Russian counterpart in Helsinki to discuss “current issues between the countries.”


As was reported last month, interest from non-EU students towards Finnish universities has hit an “all-time low”. Study International takes a closer look at just why this is the case.

This week also saw the story of Afghan migrant Mojtaba Hassani cause a stir in the international media. TOLOnews has reported that the 21-year-old is due to be deported by the Finnish police, despite the fact he has a full-time job.

In other news, Helsinki will play host to an important military meeting, Chinese money is being sought to fund the Helsinki-Estonia tunnel, and Finnish startup Space Nation has designed the world’s first astronaut training app.

Why interest in Finnish universities has hit an ‘all-time low’
Study International

Throughout the last decade, the world hasn’t been able to get enough of Finland and its education system. It’s where top teachers deliver a refreshing curriculum (or lack of) with no homework, but its students still come top in international assessments. Here, schools are even removing classroom walls so learning takes place in an open-plan environment.

Naturally, global interest and applications to its universities have grown. Interest among students considering either a bachelor’s or master’s degree within continental Europe exceeded the supply of programmes offered in the country’s universities.

That is, until 2017. What happened?

For a long time, Finland was one of the few countries offering free tuition to international students. Together with the prospect of living in an Insta-worthy Nordic location as well as its many universities lauded for academic performance, this proved a highly attractive combination for many students looking to further their studies abroad.

Last year, the Finnish government removed one significant element of that winning combination. It introduced tuition fees for students from non-EU/EEA countries. At a range of around €4000-18000 per academic year, a Finnish education is still, for the most part, relatively cheaper than more traditional study destinations like the US, UK and Australia. Doctoral programmes still allow Ph.D. candidates to enrol for free.

But for many international students, this is simply not cheap enough to warrant their interest anymore.

Original article was published by Study International on 06/06/2018 and can be found here.

US, Russia military chiefs to meet in Finland
The Washington Post

The Finnish Defense Forces says a top U.S. military chief will meet his Russian counterpart in Helsinki to discuss “current issues between the countries.”

The Finnish military says the meeting Friday of Gen. Joseph Dunford, current chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Russia’s chief of the military’s General Staff, Gen. Valery Gerasimov, “takes place on the initiative of both countries.”

In Thursday’s statement, the Finns said they also will meet separately with Finland’s president and the Nordic country’s military chief. The Finns will not take part in the U.S.-Russia meeting.

In April, NATO’s top military officer, U.S. Army Gen. Curtis Scaparrotti, met with Gerasimov in Baku for the first such encounter since relations between Moscow and the alliance sank to post-Cold War lows over the Ukrainian crisis.

Original article was published by The Washington Post on 07/06/2018 and can be found here.

Finland to deport Afghan migrant with full-time job

Finnish police are preparing to deport 21-year-old Mojtaba Hassani back to Afghanistan although he has a full-time job and all of his other family members have been granted Finnish residence permits, Yle reported.

Hassani has lived in Finland with his mother, stepfather and three siblings since 2015 and is currently employed full-time as a cleaner while attending Finnish ninth grade.

The Finnish Immigration Service Migri decided to investigate Hassani's age, although he had a "tazkira", an Afghan identity document, which was also used to confirm his siblings' ages.

However, the result of the age tests spelled bad news for Hassani: overnight, the test raised his age, declaring him to be an adult.

According to Valtonen, in international jurisprudence a person's age should be determined within a two-year range, because the age-testing method does not produce precise results. In Finland, immigration officials examine the teeth or wrist to determine age.

In Hassani's case, the test determined that he was 10 months older than his identity documents stated.

The tazkira is an Afghan identity document. It was enough for Finnish authorities to establish age and identity for Hassani's siblings in 2011. However, Hassani had to undergo an age test four years later.

Hassani appealed the test results at the EU Court for Human Rights, but lost the motion.

After his family reunification application foundered, Hassani applied for a residence permit as an asylum seeker. However this application was also rejected – immigration officials said it was because he failed to meet the criteria for international protection.

Valtonen said that a positive outcome would have been almost impossible for someone in Hassani's position, since he had left Afghanistan when he was just 15 years old – at that age he had not yet been personally threatened or assaulted.

"Even the Taliban doesn't persecute children," the activist said.

Hassani challenged that decision in the Supreme Administrative Court, but that motion was also turned down.

Original article was published by TOLOnews on 05/06/2018 and can be found here.

Finland open to plans by ex-Angry Birds executive for China funding of Estonia tunnel

Finland’s government is open to plans by a former executive at the Angry Birds game maker Rovio who wants to seek Chinese funding for an undersea train tunnel to link Helsinki with the Estonian capital Tallinn, a minister said.

The former executive, Peter Vesterbacka, wants to seek Chinese funds for the long-standing project that has a price tag of 15 billion-20 billion euros ($18 billion-$24 billion) and which has yet to secure financial backing from the two governments and the European Union.

“I’m very open to his plans,” Finnish Transport and Communications Minister Anne Berner told Reuters by telephone. “He needs state contribution and we need private sector presence. Private money often accelerates projects.”

“It is important that this is a European project, but by stating that, we are not ruling out Chinese money,” the minister who is in charge of the project said, adding that the government was in “open dialogue” with Vesterbacka about his plans.

Berner also said more studies were needed before the two governments could determine next steps by the end of 2018.

Finland and Estonia have for years considered linking their capitals that are divided by the Gulf of Finland. A feasibility study published in February said the planned 100-km (60-mile) tunnel would cost up to 20 billion euros and could open in 2040.

Original article was published by Reuters on 08/06/2018 and can be found here.

Finland unveils world's first app to train anyone to be an astronaut

A Finnish company has launched a new smartphone application designed to help ordinary people develop the skills required to navigate space as an astronaut.

Space Nation, a Helsinki-based startup, said the Space Navigator aims to help anyone prepare for the age of space tourism.

"Space is not far away. It's in our backyard," Mazdak Nassir, the company's founder and chief content officer, was quoted by Finnish national broadcaster Yle as saying.

The application offers a variety of tasks, games and quizzes for astronaut wannabes. The training package, which is intended to make users both physically and mentally space-ready, is suitable even for those who "begin from zero," according to the company.

Space Nation will select 12 people from the fittest users of the app for further training and give the best among them an opportunity to get an actual space tour.

"Our aim is to dispel the notion that an astronaut is super-human," said Nassir.

Original article was published by Xinhua News Agency on 07/06/2018 and can be found here.

Dan Anderson – HT

Photo: Lehtikuva / Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Dominique A. Pineiro / DOD Photo