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Almost all vocational high school students have paid employment at some point before graduation.A doctoral thesis in education warns of the harmful effects of tertiary-level students being forced to balance work and study.

FINDING a balance between paid employment and study is often difficult for tertiary-level students. The more studies become prolonged through work commitments, the greater the risk of dropping out, claims recently-graduated Doctor of Philosophy (Education) Riitta Kalima. Kalima teaches at the Helsinki Metropolia University of Applied Sciences.

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When working life grinds down your motivation and even vacations don’t help, it might be time for a change of pace.

“THE TROUBLE with the rat race is that even if you win it, you’re still a rat.” Lily Tomlin’s words may resonate now more than ever, as people face longer hours on the job with fewer rewards. The understanding used to be that one would work hard and play hard: the harsh toll of a career would be compensated with an ever-increasing standard of living. That particular equation has broken down, as corporate practices, financial crises, recessions, higher costs of living and a host of other factors have eroded the link between work and fulfilment.

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Nikki Enriquez came to Finland from the Philippines two years ago in a group of about thirteen cooks. She now works at the Memphis restaurant.To get a job in Finland, Filipino cooks have to undergo months of training.

SOMETIME in October a customer will sit down in a Helsinki restaurant and begin enjoying a good meal. Little will he know that the preparation of that meal began months earlier on the other side of the world, when a Filipino cook answered an advertisement looking for help in understaffed Finnish restaurants.

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Students at the University of Lapland in Rovaniemi.THE Finnish education system has acquired a strong international reputation for quality. There are currently 15,700 international students enrolled here in Finland, a number that is divided almost equally between university and polytechnic institutions. However, this constitutes just four per cent of the students nationwide. More worryingly, 70 per cent of all non-Finnish graduates are leaving the country upon the completion of their degree, which begs the question: is Finland merely preparing students – for free – in order for them to benefit other countries and economies?

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Students are kept busy in a Finnish class provided by adult education centre Axxell.LEARNING Finnish is every foreigner’s nightmare. Speaking from personal experience, there is a real desire to learn the language upon arrival in the country, mainly due to the excitement of arriving in a new country and the eagerness to fit into a new society and adapt – not to mention excel.

However, while courses are often aimed at new arrivals, what about those who are lucky enough to find gainful employment immediately or who already have a job organised before they arrive? Why is it that only the unemployed should benefit from affordable tuition, while those in work are forced to seek expensive classes that are often at unsuitable times? Indeed, the Finnish government doesn’t even financially support Finnish classes for non-natives in employment, while those without a job are offered a real long-term advantage.

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