Studying and Living in Finland LUT Alumni Experience by Aisulu Harjula

Different countries, different teachers

I continue to describe differences in study approach in the countries where I’ve studied. This time I would like to share thoughts about student-professor relationships.


In Russia professors are treated as high ranked professionals by state. Many professors rely on their subjective opinion when grading students. A professor can give a good mark if he/she likes a student as a person. Also it may turn to happen that questions on the exam day are unexpectedly new and unknown. Lecture attendance is a must, professors have scheduled limited consulting hours. Things are not repeated twice and some questions considered as a sign of silliness. To some extent it’s also child-parents relationships.

55Each student has to hold a personal record book in which exams and tests scores are recorded immediately after an exam or a test.  Each student needs to take certain amount of tests before an examination period. When s/he collect enough of scores in the book, s/he gets an official stamp from the faculty administration which gives an exam attendance right. Without this stamp students can’t attend the exams. After each student completes all exams successfully s/he gets a new stamp in the record book.

European professors on the other hand are generally OK to explain things again and again until you get good understanding. They give grades based on the quality of answers, evaluate piece of work objectively. They are open and grow in their field and open to learn more. An outstanding feature in Finnish education is that professors treat students equally and there is no psychological distance between. There is no pressure from the academic side.


In Finland professors and students may socialize together. Integration, equality, trust, experience, open-mindedness are Finnish values.

For example, the academic staff from our faculty organized for students an evening with dinner and sauna. We students had the opportunity to communicate in an informal atmosphere together with the academic staff as we didn’t know each other well. In contrary, students in Russia do something for professors such as bringing dark chocolate, drinks and flowers to show their respect. It might help to raise people’s mood and professors may become less severe and more adequate to students.

Our academic director of Master’s programs, Paavo Ritala, shared a funny story that happened to him during his lecturing practice.

I teach basically always in English since all my courses are part of international Masters’ programmes at LUT School of Business. After couple of years of doing that, I had a lecture for Finnish student audience. To my surprise, I noticed that lecturing in my mother tongue was somewhat difficult and I struggled with communication and finding words at first. After a while, it got better, of course, since I know (or I should know!) the Finnish language pretty well 🙂


“Forget what you have learned at the university” is the typical slogan in Russia when you enter to the working life. Here it’s more important to show your skills and experience rather than personal traits. For the older generation it’s not important at all what kind of person you are, it’s important that you can do the things. In Europe it’s more important to get to know you as a person. HR looks for those individuals who suit the company’s culture. The logic is “we can teach you special skills but we can’t teach you to be a person”.

About The Author

Researcher at LUT, Master of Economics, LUT & GSOM Saint Petersburg State University. Focus on Strategy, Innovation and Sustainability. Background in natural sciences.


  1. Idorenyin Blankson 2.7.2014 at 13:45

    Would you please guide me through gaining admission into a Finnish university to study an oil and gas related course. The first time I tried four years ago was not successful.

    • Aysulu 8.7.2014 at 09:06

      Hi, I suggest if you contact a university of your interest directly. This site should be also helpful for you =)

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