Afghan-born would-be student caught in catch-22 situation
Immigration Service: no residence permit without place to study / School: no studying without residence permit
Afghan-born Naser Hussein, 19, who had applied to study social services and health care at the Omnia Vocational College in Espoo, was not allowed to take part in the aptitude test even though he had easily passed the language test.
The reason given by Omnia for not allowing Hussein to take part in the test was that he did not yet have a residence permit.
The core of the problem is, however, that to get a residence permit for the purpose of study, the Finnish Immigration Service requires that the applicant should be approved for study.
“We do not do immigration policy”, says Omnia director Juha-Pekka Saarinen.
He said that Hussein was not accepted to the entrance exam because “the result was known in advance”.
“The student would not have been chosen in any case. We have a policy that a person who does not have the right to live in the country cannot be chosen.”
The policy is that of the institution – not one that has been mandated by state officials.
Saarinen says that a residence permit is required already at the application stage. The reason for this is that a few years ago many foreigners came to Finland as students, even though study was not necessarily their actual goal. Getting a place to study was seen as an easy way to get a residence permit in a Schengen country.
Some students had to drop out of school before graduating because of deportation.
Saarinen also says that problems have also been caused by the fact that to secure themselves economically, immigrant students go to work, and fall behind in their studies, “because they spend their nights cleaning, and their days trying to stay awake while studying”.
He laments that there are not enough openings for students in Finland.
National Board of Education official Juhani Pirttiniemi found that it is strange that the applicant was not allowed to take part in the entrance exam. “An applicant’s ability to cope with studies should be determined in the entrance exam.”
National Board of Education official Marget Kantosalo says that similar cases have emerged before.
“The applicant should have been given the possibility to take part in the exam if his language skills were shown to be sufficient, and his economic security was in shape. Why were his language skills even tested?” Kantosalo asks.
Naser Hussein, who has lived in Finland since 2008, was not discouraged by this latest setback. He decided to try his luck at the Helsinki Diakonia College, and after a successful aptitude test, he received his letter of acceptance on Friday.
Previously in HS International Edition:
Foreign Ministry suspects some West African study applicants may have used forged certificates (25.8.2009)
Suspected document forgery centre uncovered in Helsinki student flat (4.8.2008)
Record number of foreign students apply to Finnish universities this autumn (30.8.2006)
Student spends thousands of euros in vain for trip to university entrance exams (9.8.2011)
Helsinki Diakonia College