Category Archives: Academic and campus life

Studying the future to help organisations and the planet

As Study Advisory’s vision lies in helping future and current students to craft their own future, we decided to write a piece on future studies, which is, actually, a field in its own right.

Ever considered studying the future?

Future studies seek to explore potential options for the future, and also likely scenarios. Sometimes a normative method is also used: which scenario is to be chosen or favoured, and why? The Finland Futures research centre is one of the few of its kind in the world. Others like-minded centres include the research centre for future studies at the University (of Hawaii) at Manoa and the more recent Taiwanese Graduate Institute of Future Studies, at Tamkang university (where the whole university has “futurizing” as an essential part of its mission statement).

stuyding the future
Planning and creating the future is all about solid scenarios and picking the preferred outcomes among various future options

But back to Finland. The Finnish futures research centre boasts a long tradition for the field, with research on the future happening in Finland from the 1960s. The centre itself was founded in 1992 in a forward-looking moment for the world and for Finland. The Finnish futures research centres organises and a yearly conference that attracts specialists from around the globe. The 2017 conference will be about complexity with a focus on globalisation. Also, interestingly, the UN organisation Study Advisory gives money to thanks to students’ reviews, UNESCO, is the same one Finnish futures research Markku Wilenius was recently appointed to. Wilenius’s UNESCO professorship’s aim is to support futures studies in developing countries.

A unique doctoral programme in Turku

According to Dr Jari Kaivo-oja, research director at the Finland Futures Research Centre (FFRC), the number of foreign students in both the master and PhD programme has risen in recent years, showing the global impact of a forerunner in this original, multidisciplinary subject. In Turku (the centre is hosted by the University’s School of Economics), the doctoral programme in futures studies is unique in Europe.

Master and PhD students of futures studies in Turku come from all walks of life: engineering, economics, business research, natural sciences… They have started a blog, Black Swans, inspired by a 2011 book by Nassim Taleb on highly improbable events.

studying the future
Highly improbable events can shake countries, organisations, individuals or even academic subjects.

Upon graduation, these Turku trained students set up their own companies, or work in bigger organisations, while some join family businesses. Often, fresh graduates find themselves using the skill set of future studies tools they have been trained in. Futures methods are valued by research centres across Finland, in particular, including for internships and research positions, and are of course valuable for PhD candidates.

The Finnish Futures research centre also has offices in Tampere and Helsinki.

A universal field with a wide range of potential implications

Future studies are increasingly attractive to Latin American and Chinese universities and research centre, though China has its own tradition that dates back to about 100 years ago. And the Finnish parliament has its own committee for the future, science and technology policy with 17 members of parliament advising the government on the foresight using a long view.

Many management methods can be used to conduct future studies. Foresight, network and decision-making analysis are usually steps that ensure all aspects are taken into account by the organisation seeking to get insight into its futures. As a holistic field, futures studies can encompass topics such as food, sustainability, or security.

studying the future
Sustainability in particular is at the core of the Finnish Futures Research centre’s values and projects. The creation of Sustainable Development Goals has led to a pioneering exercise in integrating strategic foresight to sustainability.

Futures studies and higher education

Asked what trends are the most disturbing in higher education at this point in time, Dr Kaivo-oja answered that students will need to learn to use big data in the coming years, and the upcoming generation of youngsters is already being redefined as ‘artificial intelligence natives’ (with the Internet of things) rather than ‘digital natives’. And it is true that many classrooms already use tablets, interactive polls and games (Kahoot, which Study Advisory uses too during high school visits). But currently, most university students might still be “good old” digital natives, so what is at stake?

For Dr Kaivo-oja, a future studies perspective on higher education also unravels two trends: which proportion of private vs public education do societies want for the next generations? (an open question which is central to many reforms in education these days), and a fact: more and more people need tertiary education. This is particularly true of ‘developing nations’, while some free, efficient university systems like Finland are at a crossroads, with the introduction of fees for international students next year.

Another take-home point from Study Advisory’s meeting with the Finnish Future research centre lies in the ‘weak signal’ (first sign of a trend) that cultural interaction is being transformed by artificial intelligence and that more and more people can, through the Internet, engage with others while using their own language. This hints at a post-globalised world in which (native and non native) English ‘was’ the common language.

studying the future
Has the Internet already caused a revolution in universities? Digital natives are co-creating their learning environment, and as digitalization has already reached a point of no return, languages can be seen as a factor in improved digitalization and online communication across cultures.

Trends and scenario analysis might not help us determine what tomorrow’s university will look like (will more students use MOOCs for their whole degrees, will we speak Mandarin instead of Chinese in international MBAs? Or even will future studies still attract master and PhD students?). But, in a world that seems to be changing at a faster pace than before, the long view of the discipline might be valuable to take hindsight and ponder what to keep and what to change from a current society or organisation. In this respect, making sense of the future proves crucial to predict – and then decide – what emerging needs a country or company ought to be prepared for.

-Pauline Trabuc

Why studying the future may be valuable

  • You can work in many organizations, public or private, large and small
  • Your degree will be original yet traditional (research methods can be applied in other contexts), and you will have been taught original ways of thinking
  • A small but close-knit community of specialists around the world
  • A door to sustainability careers
  • A multidisciplinary cohort and impact, with a unique understanding of scenarios, including improbable futures.

More information

Finland Futures Research Centre

Note that future students at Turku also take part in an intensive short summer school in June, where they will hone their thinking about complexity and discuss the upcoming future studies conference.

Master’s degree in future studies and doctoral programme in future studies

University of Turku on Study Advisory (148 reviews, you can also rate)

University of Hawaii at Manoa, Honolulu, on Study Advisory (5 student reviews, you can also rate)

University of Tamkang on Study Advisory (be among the first ones to rate)

Strategic foresight and sustainability on Sitra, the Finnish innovation fund’s website

Classements d’employabilité et d’innovation

Les classements Universum, ça vous dit quelque chose ? Si vous pensez que cela n’a rien à voir avec l’éducation, l’université de vos rêves, ou avec les avis Study Advisory, eh bien, vous n’avez pas complètement raison. Les tests Universum comprennent des questions sur le type d’employeur et les entreprises précises qui vous attirent ou correspondent à votre personnalité et à vos objectifs de carrière.  Cette année 2016, LVMH arrive en tête des désirs des jeunes commerciaux français, et Airbus est quant à lui favori des futurs ingénieurs. En Belgique et en Suisse, Google est favori de ces deux types de profil … Et inutile de préciser que les géants nationaux de certains pays (ou de leur pays voisin) attirent leurs ressortissants, comme Kone (géant des ascenseurs) pour les étudiants ingénieurs finlandais ou Bayer pour les jeunes chimistes autrichiens.

Par ailleurs, pour les plus férus de classements, quoi de mieux que de savoir que son université attire les recruteurs ou que ses brevets sont reconnus pour se projeter dans l’avenir ?

attractive universities
Les tests Universum comprennent des questions sur le type d’employeur et les entreprises précises qui vous attirent ou correspondent à votre personnalité et à vos objectifs de carrière.

Certes, à la fin du lycée, on est sans doute un peu jeune pour avoir une idée de l’entreprise dans laquelle on voudrait entamer sa carrière, ou en général, pour savoir quelle organisation correspond à ses valeurs.  Il semble y avoir encore du chemin à faire pour améliorer le passage entre l’orientation et le début d’une carrière. Pourtant, les employeurs regardent attentivement les classement comme Universum sur les universités et grandes écoles dont rêvent les jeunes.

Parallèlement, en fin de lycée ou durant votre parcours universitaire, vous visez peut-être une entreprise dans laquelle vous aurez vos chances. En effet, les grandes entreprises en particulier attribuent une valeur à votre institution si elle est bien classée, par exemple dans le classement Emerging-Trendence, duo franco-allemand spécialiste de l’employabilité. La tendance est bien à classer les universités en fonction de leur force d’attraction pour les employeurs, en plus de forces académiques intrinsèques comme les publications.

Le dernier classement Emerging Trendence a ainsi interrogé près de 6000 employeurs dans 20 pays du monde. Comme Emerging l’explique, le classement décrit uniquement le “point de vue du marché”; autrement dit, celui de managers internationaux et cadres specialisés en recrutement en charge de faire entrer sur le marché du travail 50 jeunes professionnels, au moins, par an. Les managers sélectionnés pour répondre aux questions d’Emerging exercent dans la quasi-totalité des secteurs de l’économie.

Une université allemande dans le top 10 mondial de l’employabilité : TU Munich

La plupart des finalistes du classement de l’employabilité sont américaines, mais ce constat n’est pas systématique. Par exemple, l’université technique de Munich se classe au 8ème rang, juste devant Princeton. Si vous étudiez en Corée du Sud, par exemple, vous pouvez aller en échange à l’Université technique de Munich depuis 5 universités. Pour filer la métaphore des degrés de connection, si vous êtes, disons, français(e) ou étudiant en France, TU München est une université où vous pouvez envisager un échange depuis la prestigieuse Ecole Polytechnique, mais également depuis l’Ecole des Mines de Nantes, et l’université d’Aix-Marseille. Donc il n’est pas indispensable de chercher à postuler dans les universités les plus chères si l’on vise avant tout une meilleure employabilité.

Mais que signifie au juste l’employabilité ? Bien sûr, il s’agit de l’obtention d’un poste. Qu’il s’agisse d’un poste en multinationale, dans une PME, ou même un poste que vous créez vous-même dans votre start-up… Peu importe. L’enjeu se situe plutôt ailleurs, dans les compétences moins techniques (dites “soft” ou “social skills”) qui sont presque tout aussi importantes que les compétences techniques que peut (doit) vous apporter votre diplôme. Les  compétences sociales peuvent être très tangibles comme des langues étrangères, ou encore des compétences informatiques, et également plus difficiles à mesurer comme l’adaptabilité, l’intelligence émotionnelle, ou encore des facultés de présentation.

attractive universities Et comme les universités ne sont pas seulement utiles aux employeurs et futurs employés, mais aussi à la société, il est intéressant de mesurer les innovations, elle-mêmes mesurées par le nombre de brevets, leur qualité, leur portée et leur impact. Dans ce contexte, un autre classement revêt une importance singulière : le classement Reuters de l’innovation dans les universités européennes, mené sur la base d’informations de Thomson Reuters Intellectual Property & Science (publications et brevets).

L’université belge KU Leuven arrive en tête de ce classement en 2016, devant Imperial College London, l’université de Cambridge (toutes deux au Royaume-Uni), et devant l’Ecole Polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne (Suisse). La cinquième université la plus innovante peut être de nouveau mentionnée : TU Munich. Par ailleurs, d’autres partenaires de Study Advisory figurent dans le top 50 des universités innovantes : Erasmus University Rotterdam et la néerlandophone Vrije University of Brussels.

A l’échelle mondiale, le classement Reuters de l’innovation présente une surreprésentation des établissements américains, mais également une université coréenne: le Korean Advanced Institute of Science and Technology à la 6ème place. Pour les étudiants français ou wallons, KAIST est une destination d’échange que vous pouvez envisager si vous êtes, par exemple, inscrit.e à l’INP Grenoble ou encore à l’Université catholique de Louvain.

Car ouvrir vos horizons peut être aussi simple qu’un échange en gardant en tête les perspectives d’innovation ou d’employabilité.

Intéressé par les classements d’innovation en plus des universités préférées des recruteurs mondiaux ?

Voici un tableau regroupant les 15 premières universités en matière d’employabilité et d’innovation :

Employabilité (ordre repris du classement mondial Emerging) Innovation (classement européen de Reuteurs des universités les plus innovantes)
Université de Cambridge  Royaume-Uni KU Leuven Belgique
Université d’Oxford  Royaume-Uni Imperial College London
TU Munich Allemagne Université de Cambridge  Royaume-Uni
Imperial College Royaume-Uni Ecole polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne
HEC Paris France TU Munich Allemagne
Kings College London Royaume-Uni Erlangen University Nuremberg Allemagne
Université de Manchester  Royaume-Uni Delft University of Technology Pays-Bas
Université IE (Instituto de Empresa) Spain Université d’Oxford Royaume-Uni
EM Lyon France University of Munich Allemagne
ETH Zurich Suisse University of Zurich Suisse
University of Munich Germany University of Copenhagen Danemark
Université d’Edimbourg Ecosse, Royaume-Uni Technical university of Denmark Danemark
Ecole Normale Supérieure France  ETHZ Suisse
EPFL Suisse Université Paris 6 Pierre et Marie Curie  France
Mines Paris Tech France Paris 11 Paris Sud France

Même si les brevets et les publications des jeunes diplômés de demain donneront lieu à un classement certainement différent des classements 2016, les tendances peuvent être amorcées aujourd’hui et toujours valables dans cinq ans. La coopération entre les universités et les entreprises est forte, traditionnellement, dans certains pays et dans certaines universités ou universités de technologie. Ces coopérations ne changent pas du jour au lendemain, et dépendent plutôt de facteurs comme des financements européens.

De la même façon, une université peut vous aider à trouver votre premier emploi, mais pas forcément à le garder (ou l’inverse). D’autres facteurs dans l’employabilité entrent aussi en ligne de compte, comme l’expérience pratique (stages durant les études, notamment). Toutefois, ainsi que l’a précisé le vice-président de l’avancement institutionnel à la prestigieuse Hong Kong University of Science and Technology à Times Higher Education: une université devrait pouvoir vous aider à produire un travail satisfaisant vos employeurs dans la durée. C’est pour cela, qu’en plus des stages, travailler sur des projets de recherche ambitieux, dans votre université, dans une entreprise ou dans le cadre de projets conjoints, peut être déterminant. Les compétences techniques et les “soft skills” comme la résolution de problèmes que vous accumulerez seront autant d’atouts pour votre employabilité.

-Pauline Trabuc

Plus d’informations :

Emerging-Trendence: classement mondial d’employabilité 

Reuters: universités les plus innovantes du monde et d’Europe

Studying with a baby on board – combining studies and a child

Sometimes there are situations in life when you need to — or want to — combine different life phases, that are equally important to you. Combining studies and building a family might sound complex, but it can also give you the most precious memories of your life. Here are three different true stories told by anonymous people, two mothers and a father, who have experience in studying with a baby on their lap.

Studying with a baby
Building a family and finishing your studies are a combination that might sound messy. Read the true stories.

Language student reads epic poetry to the newborn

I am studying Finnish language in a humanistic faculty and am just about to graduate. I started my studies in the autumn 2011 and my daughter was born in December 2012. At the same time, I was still finishing my studies in the University of applied sciences. I didn’t have any maternity leave, but my husband was taking care of the baby, as I was attending to my exams. For a long time, I was not able to stay outside the house, only enough to write the examinations!

The best memories of those times came from the baby, of course! I realized I started to deal with my studies in much more relaxed way, as I noticed there was something even more special and valuable in my life. I was doing my literacy studies while my child was a newborn, so I read out loud some of my exam books, for example the Finnish epic poetry Kalevala. My life in general felt quite laid-back and carefree. I was doing as much studies as I could, and sniffing the baby’s pink smell.

Studying with a baby

The biggest challenge for me was to really get myself to the uni and to find time for the studies, since being a mother is quite holistic and all-encompassing. Usually I was trying to finish my exams before the baby would get hungry again, cause she wouldn’t eat from a bottle. I was always doing my study tasks while she was sleeping. Actually, I have done all my studies in the evenings, after she has fallen asleep — it can get quite tough! What I am looking forward to about my graduation, is that I am finally going to be able to have a moment in the evening when I don’t have to do anything.

Coffee and bun, makes a happy student-mom

My husband’s parents have been priceless help for us. They have been helping me the whole time and supporting me with my studies. It has been so lovely that every time after each of my exams, my husband’s father has served me with coffee and bun! Then we have discussed about the topics of my exam. I was also lucky that during my husband’s parental leave, I was able to attend to a few courses at the uni. There is also a very nice Children’s Stop at my university, where I could leave my baby, before she went to a proper daycare.

Studying with a baby

Journalist mother of two got strength and inspiration from her studies

I studied broadcasting journalism by the time my son was born, and I already had a daughter aged four. I wasn’t planning on having another baby, and the times were extremely hard. I had no maternity leave, I had to both study and work part time at the same time, when taking care of the kids. I was basically always the sole guardian. I don’t really even remember much of the times when my son was a baby; it’s all a blur and too traumatic to remember —  a black hole in my life.

Studying with a baby

The studies were a life-saver — both in a symbolic and practical meaning

I was extremely unhappy, but having a burn out or giving up was not even an option. My social life was somewhat non-existent, I had nothing of my own. I lived only hoping that once I pull through, I can one day build a life I can be happy with.

My studies were a gateway to another kind of life, to independence, to self-value. It was really important to study something I was so keen on, it gave me hope and meaning! Of course I didn’t really excel in my studies because of my situation, and I regret that. But for me, the most important thing was that my studies helped me to get there where I’m today professionally. I think being so young as I was helped me in a way, to manage the physical stress that the situation caused me.

Studying  — “the best possible investment in the future”

The children motivated me into working hard and developing my skills, so I could have a career and a job I actually like, or even love — a thing not many young, teenage and /or single mothers can achieve. At the moment, I enjoy my current professional status and the fact that my children are already in school age, getting more and more independent all the time. Other women of my age are starting to stress about having kids, but I can focus on my career and my own personal happiness.

Studying with a baby

Sometimes I do feel a bit saddened by it though: I never got to experience a maternity leave nor was I able to offer a prosperous start in life for my kids. And who can say where I’d be in my life — both professional and personal ways – without my kids. Then again, had I not had them that time, maybe I never would have experienced motherhood.

Studying was the best possible investment in the future —  both for me and my kids. The cost was my youth, but in situation I was in, it was the best thing to do.

Statistician father — the small things made the days

Studying with a baby and multitasking

When my son was born, I was finishing my university studies majoring in statistics. I was able to stay home for eight months after he was born, because I was writing my Masters’s theses. It was a great thing, that the theses were the last task for my study program, so I was able to study at home before I started to work.

The best memories of that time, were the moments when I got to see how my baby was developing every day and learning new things. The small things made my days — and they still do. For example the moments when I saw how the child was making contact with a lion toy. He was afraid but making contact at the same time! I also got a good buddy to join me with my hobbies.

Studying with a baby

The biggest struggle for me was to realize, how the feelings can change so rapidly. Especially when I was trying to get him to sleep and I was not succeeding — he struggle is real! What helped me the most, was to acknowledge that the baby is not doing things difficult just to piss you off, there is a true matter and need behind the behavior. It was also helpful to know that the baby-times are not going to last forever.

Studying with a babyIf you are planning to combine your studies with a baby, you should know that the graduation might take more time than the usual, but it is still possible to go on one step at a time.

4 Points business students should pay attention to

“Business” is one of the most common and popular study fields, but nevertheless, for some students it may be difficult to understand what they can achieve with their business degree. In this post, I am going to give four key points to help business students get the most out of their degree. These goals are achievable and measurable, and will help you pursue your studies further. You can try to change them into practical tasks and add them to your to-do list.

I am sure that by reading this, the business degree will become a bit more meaningful to all of you!

1. Pay attention to classes

Business students may want to achieve different goals in universities. Some may want to get a good grade so that they can be promoted to a better job. Some may want to receive tertiary education so they can be improved spiritually and knowledgeably. Some may want to try every new thing so they can develop their potential. Going to class, especially for the business students, would be the easiest way to accomplish the above-mentioned goals. Apart from learning hard facts from the books and PowerPoints, in class you will also get the chance to discuss with your fellow students. You can learn from other business students and review your own ideas. It is also a golden opportunity to develop your own network!

business students having lessons

2. Take part in different activities

If you are planning to achieve a business-related career, I would recommend you to join some business-related societies or consulting clubs. You can meet more students and professionals in different fields and you may also sniff some career information. If you dream of getting a work related to technology, it might be a wise idea to join some seminars about new technologies. This is an excellent way to learn more about the current trends. It’s good to always bear in mind that your current friends may become your colleagues one day.

business students having discussion

3. Don’t bound yourself

As a university student, you should keep an open mind to every new people, environment or study field. By going to different lectures, you can learn something completely new that you can possibly apply in your future projects. For example, marketing skills are essential to all the disciplines. I recommend all of you, no matter what is your major, should go to have some marketing lessons.

Furthermore, you can also join some sports club to keep yourself always energetic and your body in a good condition to accept different challenges. It would also be a great occasion for you to widen the social cycle. While exercising, you can share your innovative ideas to other outstanding students. A tip for you: Mark Zuckerberg loves playing tennis !


3rd point

4. Join more discussions

You can meet so many professors, staff members and experts in business when you have lectures or seminars. Grab the chance and rdon’t hesitate to ask any questions you have! I am sure that they would be pleased to share their knowledge, experiences and personal connections with you. These can certainly bring new insights to your academic research and future career path.
business students sharing ideas

I know all of you must share the same question right now. “How can we have so much time to achieve all four goals? I wish I could have 48 hours a day!” There is no doubt that we only have limited time while we have plenty of tasks needs to be done! However, as mature students, we should have the ability to prioritize the tasks according to their importance and emergency. It is reasonable that you focus on the tasks that you consider the key to your success! You may also check out our other blog posts about time management to utilize your time!

Written by Ching Fung Nicholas, Li