Winter School, a joint excursion to learning by Russians, Norwegians and Finns
Three northern universities are running a joint study module – Travel and Tourism Management – for the sixth year. Students and teachers come from Norway, Russia and Finland. Next spring, the 60-credit module will be opened to all those interested in the field.
As part of the studies, Winter and Summer Schools are organised every year in turns in Arkhangelsk Russia, Harstad Norway or in Tornio on the campus of the Lapland University of Applied Sciences. This year, the week-long Winter School was organised in Tornio. The theme of the week was Santa Claus as a travel phenomenon.
- Santa Claus is a familiar product for the participants with still some unutilised potential, says Head of Education Mirva Juntti regarding the Winter School’s theme selection.
In the previous Summer and Winter Schools, the students have developed, among other things, the Malinka Karelia (Small Karelia) travel entity in Arkhangelsk, commercialisation of the tourism in the Lofoten Islands and combining tourism and oil business in Harstad.
Students of the programme are studying international commerce or tourism at university level in Russia and Finland. The Norwegian students, however, have already got their degrees and are already working tourism professionals who want to learn more and get ideas for travel production and management.
Each university takes 20 students into the programme every 18 months. Due to great distances, teaching and studying take place mainly online. Teaching is provided from either Norway, Russia or Tornio and the teaching language is naturally English.
To the Dragons’ Den with Santa Claus
During the Winter School, the students and teachers visited the Arctic Circle in Rovaniemi and brainstormed development innovations for the business activities of the companies operating there. On the last day in Tornio, the teams presented their ideas in the style of the popular Dragons’ Den television format. Teacher Teresa Chen gave the students precise and constructive feedback on both the innovations and presentation of the team members, not forgetting their body language.
Students Ekaterina Radina and Anna Derbina from Narfu University in Arkhangelsk speak fluent English but speaking and performing in English still make them nervous. These young women are attending the first year class at their university studying tourism only in English so the culture is still new to all.
The Winter School week is Anna’s first visit to Finland.
- Virtual studying is handy and practical but meetings are also incredibly important, says Anna Derbina.
Teacher May Kristin Vespestad of Harstad University College agrees with her.
- There is no ordinary class room teaching at all. Online studies occupy one day of the week but the cultural spectra are truly opened up only by travelling and in the meetings, she says.
For Ekaterina, Finland and Lapland are already a bit more familiar, since she is completing a three-month exchange programme at the University of Lapland in Rovaniemi at the same time.
The group that attended the Tornio Winter School will receive their diplomas in Harstad in June, which is also the time for organising the Summer School for the new group starting next February.
A separate diploma is awarded for the Travel and Tourism Management study module with the stamps of the three universities and the signatures of the rectors of Narfu University, Harstad University College and Lapland University of Applied Sciences.
Universities also awarded with internationality points in Russia
Ljudmila Siluanova works as Deputy Director at a separate institute of Narfu University, and she has been involved in the Travel and Tourism Management study module since the very first plans.
– In 2008, we started a planning project and the first group of students started in spring 2009. Originally, the programme was planned as additional studies but it became too hard for the students. Later on, the programme was embedded in degree studies, says Ljudmila Siluanova about the different phases of the programme.
In creations like the Travel and Tourism Management module, all the participating universities are winners, not to mention the opportunities open to the students.
- We are all losing our young people to the south. We need to be able to demonstrate to young people that happiness and prosperity can also be achieved in the north, says Mirva Juntti. She is already thinking about new collaboration models for turning Arctic border co-operation into reality.
For the first time, students other than the business students of the Lapland University of Applied Sciences will be accepted into the group starting in February, since the study module will become part of the offering of the Open University of Applied Sciences.