Winter School, a joint excursion to learning by Russians, Norwegians and Finns
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
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
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